SAN DIEGO – The Navy’s top surface warfare officer says health and safety programs are key to maintaining warfighting readiness, the subject of his latest warfighting serial message to the fleet released March 2.
Vice Adm. Thomas S. Rowden, Commander, Naval Surface Forces, said he is committed to developing better warfighters and that health and safety programs play an important role in accomplishing this mission.
“Mishaps and injuries both on and off duty are preventable detractors to warfighting,” said Rowden. “By avoiding them, we directly improve our warfighting readiness.”
In his message to the fleet, Rowden talked about the importance he places on health and safety programs and highlighted some of the best practices he has seen on the most effective ships.
“In my book, safety is about setting and knowing standards in order to be mission effective the first time, every time,” said Rowden. “As warfighters, we are in the charge of innovation and taking smart risks – that’s what we do for a living.”
Rowden said in order to be consistently successful at taking smart risks one must adhere to the six shipboard operating principles and the three proven methods of accomplishing the mission.
“The six principles are integrity, procedural compliance, level of knowledge, forceful backup, questioning attitude, and formality,” said Rowden. “The three methods are ORM [Operational Risk Management], the plan/brief/execute/debrief cycle, and hazard reporting.”
In the message Rowden addressed the human factor of cutting corners and how not following established procedures leads to future problems. He said it is often the gradual and repetitive nature of small transgressions and breakdowns of discipline that allows corner-cutting behavior to propagate and grow.
Rowden also encourages all commanding officer, executive officers and senior enlisted leaders to review and critique their current health and safety programs, examine both what works and what does not, and share best practices with the fleet.
“Our tradition as a can-do surface force Navy does not mean we cut corners, even when we are pressed for time,” said Rowden. “Mishaps and preventable failures cause further time crunches, increased pressure to perform, more temptation to cut corners, and a loss of focus on our first priority of warfighting.”
Material readiness, personal readiness and combat readiness are the focus of Rowden’s efforts at the type command level to support the CNO’s three tenets of Warfighting First, Operate Forward, and Be Ready.