USS MILIUS, At Sea - A 'Khaki Auction' was held aboard guided-missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69) to help raise money for the command Family Readiness Group (FRG), March 23.
During the auction, Sailors were given a chance to exchange position with an officer or chief and take over that khaki's position, while having that officer or chief assume all of their duties and responsibilities for five hours.
Fire Controlman 3rd Class Ryan Smith, the highest bidder during the event, took control of the ship by assuming the role of commanding officer (CO).
The Navy expression "khakis" refers to officers and chief petty officers (CPO) who, traditionally, wear the khaki colored uniform.
"When Smith 'bought' the position of CO, I determined which afternoon would work best," said Cmdr. Nicholie Bufkin, USS Milius' commanding officer. "Then I sat down with the executive officer (XO) and command master chief to come up with a plan, ensuring he would have some fun while at the same time handling the many calls and requests I receive as the ship's captain."
The unofficial change of command ceremony, complete with banners and a cake cutting, took place on the mess decks during lunch.
Upon assuming command, Smith exercised his authority by implementing a uniform change. He allowed crewmembers to wear any shirt instead of their Navy working uniform blouse. Crew members scrambled to change into their new uniform of the day.
"In the short, but very effective, reign of 'Captain Smith,' I felt free to support my team, the Philadelphia Eagles," said Operations Specialist 3rd Class Jeremy Perussi. "Wearing a jersey while standing my watch was definitely a morale booster."
However, not all of Smith's hours as CO were fun and games. In addition to the privileges of being in charge, he had to assume many new responsibilities.
He oversaw events, including man overboard drills, tomahawk mission plans, personnel working aloft and engineering evolutions. He was called upon numerous times by the officer of the deck, tactical action officer, and executive officer (XO) for his expert recommendation and approvals.
"It was fun and demanding doing things I had never had a chance to do before," said Smith. "It was a challenge because I didn't want to say yes to the wrong things. It really made me understand the responsibility that being the CO carries."
Additionally, Ship's Serviceman Seaman Blake Turner got a chance to assume a major role in the command by buying the title of command master chief. While Smith was revered for his uniform change, Turner enforced some shipboard standards which led to him securing the crew's Internet Café, when unauthorized drinks and snacks were discovered in the crew's computer room.
"It wasn't fun. It was a lot more pressure than I expected" said Turner. "I felt overwhelmed with everyone's professional and personal problems."
"He did well," said Command Master Chief Lisa Thomas. "I think the biggest lesson he learned was the cascading effect of his decisions, and how much the CO, XO, and I work together as one team to run the ship."
Even though Smith was the highest bidder, the real winners of the Khaki auction was Milius' FRG, who received more than $6,500 from the fundraiser.
Milius is on a routine deployment supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.