Surface Warfare Magazine
Sharing stories and news from Sailors across the U.S. Navy’s Surface Forces
 
7/1/2015
"Petty" Officer of the Deck
Sailor Becomes First Enlisted Crew Member to Obtain the Qualification

USS ARLINGTON, At Sea (NNS) -- Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Peter Whitaker made history March 20 when he became the first enlisted crew member to be qualified as underway officer of the deck (OOD) aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24).

"I remember when I was a deck seaman standing watch in the pilot house; I always wanted to be the OOD," said Whitaker. "It has been a dream of mine and I hope that my junior Sailors will dream big like I did and continue to reach for higher goals."

The OOD stands watch in the pilot house and is the captain's direct representative for carrying out the ship's mission, including the safe navigation, control and execution of the ship's daily tasking.

"The importance of the OOD cannot be overstated," said Lt. Cmdr. Emily Bassett, Arlington executive officer. "The person standing the watch is not only responsible for the ship, but the lives of every Sailor and Marine aboard. The commanding officer must be able to implicitly trust the OOD to keep the ship running effectively and safely."

"Typically, on a smaller deck you would see a senior enlisted Sailor standing those advanced watch stations," said Arlington command master chief Brian McDonough. "On a ship like Arlington however, it is a pretty rare thing to see a first class standing OOD while underway. The motivation and drive has to be very strong to achieve the level of knowledge that is required to be an OOD."

The leading petty officer of Arlington's Deck Department, First Division, it took Whitaker approximately eight months to complete his OOD qualification. Having a support network that motivated him helped make the difference in realizing his dream.

 

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"I received so much support from both my chain of command and my junior Sailors as I was studying and meeting the requirements for the qualification," said Whitaker. "The other first class petty officers stood in for me during the various special evolutions I couldn't attend and my junior Sailors kept the division running and the work going anytime I was on watch."

McDonough hopes Whitaker is only the first of many Sailors to reach for higher qualifications both inside and outside their ratings.

"I'm hoping that this lights a fire under everyone aboard," said McDonough. "We want every Sailor on Arlington to know that if they are motivated and driven enough, there is no qualification out of reach, no matter what their rank. Whitaker has set an excellent example for the rest of the crew and I hope everyone follows that example." Surface Warfare Magazine

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