A story being repeated by Sailors aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) is that Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Chad Williams, from Norfolk, Va., is a motivated and inspiring junior Sailor who proactively takes on responsibility and effectively leads by working alongside his shipmates to guide them.
“In order to be a good leader you have to be a good teacher, a good listener, and BM3 has done those things,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Rickey Brown, the ship’s Bos’n. “He takes pride in helping Sailors, showing them the right way to do the job and giving good guidance.”
The boatswain’s mate is what many may think of when describing a traditional Sailor. They are in charge of the ship’s deck and duties such as line handling, dropping anchor and ensuring the outside of the ship is well maintained.
Lately, Williams has been proving himself by working to get the ship ready for an upcoming Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) mid-2018.
“INSURV is the biggest inspection that a ship will go through,” said Senior Chief Boatswain’s Mate Jeffery Brooks. “It’s a congress mandated inspection. We go through every piece of equipment, every piece of gear that we own and make sure that it’s maintained and operates the way it’s designed.”
Brooks said Williams has taken on more responsibility and has performed flawlessly by getting the ship’ gear ready to be at its best when it’s time for presentation.
“He’s a great young boatswain’s mate, and he’s multifaceted,” said Senior Chief Boatswain’s Mate Jeffery Brooks. “He does everything that a young BM3 needs to do, and he performs well above his pay grade. He is one of our more respected, more qualified third class petty officers.”
Outside on the ship’s forecastle, Williams is working alongside Seaman Brianna Solomon-Murray, his deck hand, in the dripping humidity and 90-degree, tropical heat of Guam.
With sun-beat skin and a layer of sweat on their faces, both Sailors pass lines over the ship to lower equipment to Sailors who are painting the anchor. Williams tells Solomon they have more tasks to finish, but first it’s time for water break.
“BM3 understands what it takes to be leader, and at the same time, he knows what it’s like to be one of us, one of the junior Sailors,” Solmon-Murray said. “He’s very fair and firm. He gets work done when it needs to be but he understands that sometimes the work is hard, and he gives us breaks when we need them.”
Solomon-Murray, who has been in the Navy for one year, said she has been working with Williams for over seven months.
“I wouldn’t say these things if they weren’t true,” said Solomon-Murray. “BM3 is awesome. He’s very compassionate and a great mentor. He’s somebody that I have been honored to meet in the Navy.”
Williams explained that his leadership style is built on experience.
“I will never tell you to do something that I’m not doing myself or I haven’t done before,” said Williams. “BM3’s are working supervisors, we work but we’re also supervising. You can’t tell a Sailor to do something and just stand there watching because they’re not going to respect that. You need to be there with them so they can see you doing the job and learn the right way.”
Williams’ own supervisors said he has a lot of potential, and his leadership qualities will open up more opportunities in his Navy career.
“You’ll see him probably as a BM2 and BM1 later on in life if he keeps it up,” said Brown. “As a third class you train to be a second class and he’s training Sailors to be in his spot.”
Williams said he has a lot of gratitude toward his shipmates for where he’s at today.
“I would like to say thank you,” said Williams. “The BM2s, BM1s, Senior [Chief] and Chief, have always pushed me, and it goes on to those below me. I see how hard they’re working and sometimes I want to stop but I look at them and they also push me. They motivate me. Where I am now is because of them.”
Williams’ motivation to work hard and help others may be in his nature but he attributes his success to the Sailors around him. He gives gratitude to the leaders who have taught him how to be a boatswain’s mate but also the Sailors he is now teaching to eventually take his place.