USS Higgins
First to Fight!
SWO Boss Talks Sound Shipboard Operating Procedures with Destroyer Crew
SAN DIEGO (Sept. 25, 2017) Commander of Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Vice Adm. Tom Rowden speaks with the crew of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76) during a visit to the ship. This visit was part of Rowden’s continuing initiative to engage the leadership and crews of surface combatant ships across the Pacific Fleet and enforce the use of sound shipboard operating principals and their core processes as the path to safe and successful maritime operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Trevor Welsh)

SAN DIEGO – Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Forces visited the guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76) Oct 25, as he continues to engage the leadership and crews of surface warships across Pacific Fleet waterfronts.

During this all-hands call in San Diego, Rowden spoke frankly to the crew regarding the current environment around the world and what it means to be on the crew of a ballistic missile defense ship. He enforced sound shipboard operating procedures (SSOPs) and relayed how following these core principles is the path to success in everything they do.

“What’s wrong with this picture,” Rowden asked the crew, quoting a critical thinking question from the core principle of questioning attitude. “That’s hazard identification,” Rowden said.

“Every member of this crew is crucial to mission success and every single one of you has a voice. No matter what you are doing, what your role is or the level of involvement, you need to have the integrity to ask yourself and your shipmates that question. This ensures what you are doing is safe, right, and upholding procedural compliance.”

The six principles: formality, procedural compliance, level of knowledge, questioning attitude, forceful backup and integrity, focus on human performance and create the foundation for highly effective commands where errors that could lead to minor or catastrophic events are identified and stopped early. Used together, these six principles form the bedrock on which the Surface Force implements the three operating processes: operational risk management; plan, brief, execute, and debrief; and hazard reporting.

“Those pillars ensure we understand ship condition and readiness to train and operate safely, and that you, the crew, know what ‘right’ looks like.” Rowden continued. “It’s your job to apply these core principals and use the operating methods in everything you do.”

In September, Rowden visited Forward-Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF) ships and commands in Yokosuka and Sasebo, Japan, and Singapore. Rowden conducted similar all-hands calls and held discussions with leadership to better understand forward-deployed readiness challenges and to discuss the role of the new Naval Surface Group Western Pacific organization.

In October, he visited Pacific Northwest to talk with the crews of USS Gridley (DDG 101) and USS Momsen (DDG 92), two of the five guided missile destroyers stationed in Everett, Washington. While in Everett, he spoke to the staffs at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Intermediate Maintenance Facility Detachment Everett, Regional Support Organization Pacific Northwest, and Afloat Training Group Pacific Northwest. The focus of Rowden’s discussions were the maintenance and training support to the five Naval Station Everett-based destroyers, as well as to review with the ships the specific actions being taken across the Fleet as a result of the Navy-wide operational pause directed by the Chief of Naval Operations. Following his visit to the Pacific Northwest, he visited with crew of USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) in San Diego.

For more information on sound shipboard operating principals and procedures, view the Surface Force’s Safety Instruction at:

For more information about how the Surface Force is improving safety and readiness of Navy warships, click on the following link:

For more information on the Surface Force, visit:

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