SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22) added another feather to its cap when Vice Adm. Thomas S. Rowden, commander of Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, presented the crew with the 2014 Chief of Naval Operations Afloat Safety Award, Oct. 15.
"It gives me great pleasure to recognize you for something that is really significant," said Rowden. "I wanted to make sure that I had the award, and I had the opportunity to look everyone in the eye and tell you exactly how proud I am of all the great work that you do in keeping the ship safe and keeping yourselves safe."
The award marks San Diego as having the top safety program of Pacific-based small and medium amphibious ships.
"I credit the crew and the fighting spirit of San Diego with this award," said Lt. Cmdr. Zubin Major, San Diego's safety officer. "It plays a role in all evolutions from high risk to everyday routine events and the crew of San Diego has made this the gold standard for safety."
During the prior calendar year, the ship deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility in support of various missions and national tasking.
"Safety is an ongoing challenge and we meet that challenge through our people and our ability to call out all infractions, no matter how small and insignificant they may seem," said Major. "They have proved themselves time and time again by their professionalism on deployment and they continue to display that dedication everyday."
During that time, San Diego and embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit safely executed more than 2,306 aircraft launches and recoveries with 882 mishap-free flight hours and 1065 hours of Landing Craft Air Cushion Operations.
"Our Sailors and Marines are the lifeblood that makes San Diego run so smoothly, and their consistent attention to detail is what brought home this award," said San Diego's Command Master Chief (CMDCM) Benjamin Faulise.
According to the official naval message released by the Naval Safety Center, this award recognizes outstanding contributions to fleet readiness, increased morale, efficiency and economical use of resources through safety.
"We were able to solve a problem with the ship's class in regards to faulty load center installation right out of the yards," said Major. "This should prevent any further related problems with this class of ship."
In addition to an outstanding safety record, ships selected had an aggressive safety program that actively contributed to reducing mishaps, including comprehensive and professional internal safety reporting.
"I often say that in the execution of my responsibilities, as we head off to whatever we're going to do, whether it is an underway replenishment or a long weekend, it takes all of us to get the job done," said Rowden. "And in order for all of us to get our job done we have to take care of ourselves, our ship and our shipmates, and a big portion of that is safety."
San Diego's safety team provides the ship with a safe environment to conduct all operations. They provide checklists, inspections and safety spot checks to keep the safety climate at its highest state of readiness.
San Diego has been taking part in an extended maintenance period at BAE Systems San Diego Shipyard since early May, in which safety continues to be the highest priority. When ships operate in an industrial environment new and dangerous evolutions and concerns become a part of everyday life.
"To truly continue to accomplish these great feats, we must all maintain our vigilance as we move out of the yards and start bringing San Diego back to life," said Faulise. "We've got a challenging year ahead of us as we collectively put our noses to the grindstone, but I'm confident that our Sailors and Marines will continue to improve upon our past successes given their high-level of dedication to our ship and our country."
San Diego will now display a plaque and a citation on board to represent the CNO Afloat Safety Award and will proudly paint her first green safety "S" on the bridge wing bulwark.