Makin Island Leadership Stresses Responsible Driving During the Holiday Season 
By Seaman Matthew J. Hill, USS Makin Island Public Affairs 
SAN DIEGO - As Sailors and their families get ready for the upcoming holiday season, the leadership of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) kicked off a safe driving campaign with the construction of a powerful display on the pier near the ship, Nov. 6.

Personnel from Makin Island's Safety department coordinated the delivery and placement of a wrecked Sport Utility Vehicle on the pier to remind Sailors not to drink and drive, not to text and drive, and to follow the rules of the road during the upcoming holiday season.

"The point of the display is to raise awareness that drunk driving, texting and driving, and distracted driving have serious consequences," said Lt. Harriet Johnson, Makin Island's safety officer.

Johnson said she hopes Makin Island Sailors will take time to think about their own driving habits, as well as take an extra moment to help prevent accidents during the holiday season.

According to the Naval Safety Center's website, 42 Sailors were killed in privately owned vehicle accidents during fiscal year 2012.

"I hope that people see the extent of the damage done to the car and understand what can happen when bad decisions are made behind the wheel," said Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Brandon Starkey, assigned to Makin Island's safety department.

Starkey said he worked with a local towing company to find the vehicle, which was wrecked Labor Day weekend, and bring it to the ship. He said he hopes it will be a blunt reminder for Sailors to make good decisions when driving.

"Safe driving is a year round concern," said Starkey. "But around the holidays, it is especially important to get the word out."

Improving readiness and safety are two key elements of the Secretary of the Navy's 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative.

Makin Island recently returned from a seven-month deployment and was the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the ship saved over $15 million in fuel costs and the Navy expects to see fuel cost savings of more than $250 million, over the course of the ship's lifecycle. Lessons learned during Makin Island's maiden deployment prove the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation, and will positively influence future ship designs for several decades.

This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps that will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve the Secretary of the Navy's energy goals to improve our energy security and efficiency afloat and ashore, increase our energy independence and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy.
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