PACIFIC OCEAN - Naval Surface Forces Command Master Chief embarked USS Peleliu June 27-29 for a three-day underway period to gather information and deliver some too.
Command Master Chief Eric Page is interested in ascertaining the level of understanding on several topics that affect Sailors.
"I wanted to come out and spend time on the deckplate and in their environment," said Page. "I want to take a litmus test about what Sailors think about some programs such as PTS, ERB and the recent Don't Ask, Don't Tell training."
Page said he discovered a lack of knowledge about some of the programs that can be easily fixed with some education and communication. He spent time with Sailors, the Chiefs Mess and Wardroom explaining these programs, but said this is a job for the Chiefs and First Class Petty Officers who know best how and when to communicate with their Sailors.
The most confusion and frustration stems primarily with PTS and ERB, or Perform to Serve and Enlisted Retention Board, respectively. These force shaping tools are responsible for most of the involuntary separations the Navy has implemented.
"The information is there. If someone is in a target group for separation or conversion, all they need to do is call their enlisted community manager - who can give realistic career advice about remaining on active duty - and get the options for accomplishing that," said Page.
Page said the unexpectedly high retention rates coupled with a smaller budget has forced leadership at the highest levels of the Navy to have to make hard decisions in shaping the force end strength.
"The Navy is working to maximize manning in a responsible way," said Page. "Education and foresight, along with planning will considerably reduce the surprises we now see when Sailors are selected for involuntary separation. We have the management tools to better track career progression and plan for reenlistment, conversion or separation."
Sailors can avoid confusion by knowing more about PTS and ERB. According to Page, it's the responsibility of the Sailor to ask questions if they are unsure, and the Chiefs and First Class Petty Officers are obligated, as their frontline leaders, to answer them accurately.
The Master Chief plans to make more visits to ships during the summer as the opportunities arise. He said the Peleliu embark was his first underway in nearly four years.
"This is a great ship," said Page. "I can see the pride and professionalism in the crew. I was pleasantly surprised to see how well maintained some of the spaces are, especially the JP-5 pump room. It was immaculate!"