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.