SAN DIEGO – Two service members assigned to Littoral Combat Squadron (LCSRON) 1 in San Diego were announced as individual recipients of the FY-2014 Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Shore Safety Award, April 2.
In an official naval message released by the Navy Safety Center, Lt. Josh Sando was named the recipient of the officer award and Operations Specialist 2nd Class Christian Turner was named the recipient of the award for enlisted personnel.
According to the Naval Safety Center message, these awards recognize outstanding support and achievement in safety and occupational health. Both the individual winners excelled in reducing mishaps and in demonstrating strong safety leadership.
For Sando and Turner the individual recognition is welcome, but creating a safety program and nurturing it into an award-winning and readiness excellence-worthy system is even more valuable.
“A big part of why 2014 was so significant was we did something that no one had thought to do before,” said Sando. “It was really a very simple solution. We took a check sheet, delineated responsibility then established a periodicity.”
Sando said LCSRON 1 is a unique squadron because of having nearly 300 personnel compared with a destroyer squadron which usually has less than 50 personnel.
“This allows us to leverage our robust departments responsible for specific administrative and material aspects to get the job done efficiently and effectively,” said Sando.
Shortly after reporting to LCSRON 1 in Sept. 2013, Sando said he was assigned as the afloat safety officer as a collateral duty. With Turner’s assistance, he immediately conceived, drafted and implemented multiple safety instructions to provide expectations to all subordinate ships, crews and detachments in relation to all aspects of safety and occupational health.
Sando said he contributes both his and Turner’s success and recognition to the support received from the LCSRON 1 leadership.
“Support from our chain of command was the biggest contributing factor and ultimately the reason we were able to win the award; nothing we did or do would have been possible without that back-up and support,” said Sando. “The biggest support we received was with enforcing programmatic compliance and understanding it’s not ok to just survive a safety inspection, but to go in with the goal to beat the number of discrepancies from the last time.”
With the goal of setting a new standard and creating a substantial safety culture base, Sando and Turner said they set out to achieve combat effectiveness in the form of the coveted “Yellow E” unit award for safety excellence.
Through their leadership, three subsequent safety inspections resulted in an average of 28 percent fewer discrepancies per ship and 47 percent fewer than the fleet average, allowing all eight eligible units to qualify for the Yellow E. This was a significant increased from 2013 where zero of six units met the requirements.
“We are setting a class standard,” said Turner. “We aren’t just setting a baseline for the current crews, but instead we are building a solid base and setting the standard for the LCS community and future crews.”
Shipboard safety programs help to prevent mishaps and injuries and improve combat readiness while supporting the "Warfighting First" tenet as directed by Commander, Naval Surface Forces and the CNO.