USS PELELIU, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Peleliu (LHA 5) introduced the first session of the Liberty at Sea program aboard the amphibious assault ship Aug. 2 to reward Sailors for their exceptional work.
Liberty at Sea is a program designed to allow Sailors, E-5 and below, an opportunity to take a day off from their duties, wear appropriate civilian attire and enjoy some personal time.
Peleliu Command Master Chief Brent Williams credited Peleliu's sister ship, amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4), with the development of the program.
"The Nassau seemed to do pretty well with this program, and I thought our Sailors could use the benefit," Williams said.
Information Systems Technician 1st Class Anthony Nixon, president of Peleliu's First Class Petty Officers' Association, introduced the idea to his fellow leaders.
"This is a new idea for a lot of us," Nixon said. "Some of us came up in the Navy when liberty wasn't as important to our leadership as it is today, and it's a challenge for any leader to allow a valuable member of the team to take time off while there's work to be done."
According to Nixon, part of the challenge stems from giving time off to Sailors who have proven to be vital to their respective shops.
"Leaders have to depend on their people to get the job done," Nixon said. "However, if you depend on that junior Sailor, why not show it by giving him or her the day off? It might mean a little more work for everyone else in the shop, but I think that people don't mind working a little extra, especially if they know they're going to get the same benefit."
The program selected 20 Sailors to participate in the program with another 20 to follow in the coming days. The goal is to identify two days per week to allow a different group of 20 deserving Sailors a chance to take a day off.
In addition to having the day off, participants get head of the line privileges for meals, the ship's store and barbershop. They will also have brunch with Peleliu's commanding officer, Capt. David Schnell, and have special hours dedicated for them at the ship's library and self-serve laundry.
"Right now, we're not in a position where we can send our Sailors ashore," Nixon said. "This is the next best thing we can do for them, and as we get feedback from participating Sailors we can tailor the program to them a little better."
Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group and the embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit serve as the theater reserve force for U.S. Central Command.