SEATTLE (NNS) -- Nine Seattle area educators, along with leadership from Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Seattle and USS Momsen (DDG 92), visited Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Howard (DDG 83) for an educator luncheon and tour during the 65th Annual Seafair celebration on July 31.
The area high school and university educators were briefed by the three commanding officers who spoke on topics ranging from personal stories of their desire to serve to recruiting efforts and available opportunities. One of their main discussions centered on understanding on how Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) is incorporated in today's modern ships.
Cmdr. Elaine Collins, a native of Shoreline, Washington, and the commanding officer of USS Momsen, served as the guest speaker for the luncheon and expressed how her role as a leader is much like that of a parent.
"As the ship's (commanding officer), I need to constantly ask myself if my decision is the best for my ship and the Sailors I lead, just like a parent when faced with a challenge must make choices that are the best for their home and family," said Collins.
When one of the educators asked why somebody today should join the Navy, each CO took a moment to retell their personal story. All came to a similar realization best summarized by Cmdr. Jack Fay of USS Howard.
"We all join for different reasons but most of us stay for the same reason: to be part of something bigger than our own self and contribute," said Fay.
Collins echoed that sentiment and added that in regards to women serving, "We do better now generationally because the Navy has become so gender neutral in regards to where we can serve and what we can do. In the end, it's about who is most competent to do the demanding job."
Following the luncheon, Fay took the visiting educators on an exclusive tour of the bridge, combat information center and central control for engineering not offered to the general public so that he could focus their attention on the varying STEM elements of the ship.
"Hosting the educators is an important function for the Navy and recruiting," said Cmdr. Christopher Sutherland, commanding officer of NRD Seattle. "The smarter they are about the Navy, the better they can advise our future Sailors about the opportunities we provide," he said.
Some of the educators attended because they feel it is important to be able to give students accurate information about the military.
"Touring Navy vessels such as USS Howard allow me to understand the many facets and career paths that one of my students could possibly take," said Scott Pinkham from the University of Washington Engineering Department.
The luncheon was held in conjunction with Seattle's 65th Annual Seafair festival. Howard, along with the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) and the guided missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) are the Navy's vessels in this year's visiting Seafair fleet. Seafair is an annual celebration that allows the local community to meet and interact with maritime forces from the U.S. and Canada while celebrating the rich history of maritime activity in the area.