Surface Warfare Magazine
Sharing stories and news from Sailors across the U.S. Navy’s Surface Forces
Camaraderie and Competition

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors, Marines, and civilians from Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic and 23 of its subordinate commands and units came together for the Surface Line Week (SLW) 2014 closing ceremonies and awards presentation, May 16.

Following a four-year hiatus, SLW returned to Norfolk with a week-long series of competitions in which participants tested their professional and athletic skills.

The anticipation of the announcement of the winners of SLW was palpable as the chanting, cheering, and a bit of smack talking punctuated the ceremony.

"This is something special," said Force Master Chief Suz Whitman of Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic. "The camaraderie and the atmosphere in this room are abuzz. There's something special going on, and I know you're feeling it."

SLW opened May 12 with a two-mile Fun Run at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek. While competition was fierce from the start, the spirit of camaraderie was strong.

"In what we do, in the profession of arms, it's all about picking each other up, running side by side, and just showing that esprit de corps," said Rear Adm. Pete Gumataotao, commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic. "And that's why it's very important you are out here representing your command, representing the Navy, representing the Marine Corps. It's one team, one fight."

The professional-skills competitions included a Corpsman Relay, Seamanship Olympics, Damage Control Olympics, Search and Rescue Relay, and a .50 caliber gun shoot. The events were designed to allow Sailors an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in common shipboard evolutions while earning professional pride in a competitive environment.

"They see the way we train aboard USS Gravely (DDG 107) really works," said Command Master Chief Neal Olds. "They came back from these events saying: 'We do it so much better than the other ships! We really kicked butt!'"

Probably one of the most coveted awards of the SLW 2014 was in the Damage Control Olympics. During the event, teams completed a knowledge test; ladder, P-100 pump, and desmoking relays; pipe-patching; and a firefighting ensemble dress-out race.

"On Anzio, we take tremendous pride in damage control," said Damage Controlman 1st Class Tracy Thatcher from USS Anzio (CG 68). "We were excited to show the waterfront that we are the best!"

Surface Line Week 2014

Junior officers and Boatswain's Mates were at the center of the Seamanship Olympics competition, which included knot tying, Boatswain pipe calls, a line heave, a maneuvering board (moboard) challenge, ship handling, and a Rules of the Road test.

"I really enjoyed the moboard challenge because I love testing my skills" said Ensign Greg King, from USS Mahan (DDG 72). "I think SLW is an amazing opportunity for Sailors around the waterfront to show off their skills not only to other ships but maybe even to their own."

Winners were named in both the amphibious ship category and the cruiser/destroyer category for each professional-skills event. USS San Antonio (LPD 17) and Anzio won in their respective categories in the Seamanship and Damage Control Olympics. USS Wasp (LHD 1) and USS Monterey (CG 61) won the Corpsman Relay, USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) and USS Mitscher (DDG 57) won the Search and Rescue Swimmer competition, and San Antonio and USS Barry (DDG 52) took first place in the .50 caliber gun shoot.

Competition in the athletic events was just as fierce. Iwo Jima and Mitscher won the softball and masketball tournaments; San Antonio and USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) won the volleyball tournament; Afloat Training Group Norfolk and Mahan won the bowling tournament; and Iwo Jima won the golf tournament.

Concluding the week of competition, culinary events at the awards ceremony included a burger cook-off, chili cook-off, and a cake decorating contest. The cake submitted by the culinary team from Iwo Jima depicted a three-dimensional rendition of the flag-raising on Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima. The large cake was a team effort, created by Culinary Specialist 1st Class Danalyn Foster, Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Sarah Nyamgero, Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Jakelia Owens, and Culinary Specialist Seaman Apprentice Kiasia Wilson.

"It was exciting to just be on the team, since baking cakes is normally a one-person job," said Owens. "I was excited to work with CS2 Nyamgero and see her vision come alive."

Shortly after announcing Iwo Jima as the winner in the chili, burgers, and cake competitions, Gumataotao was ready to announce the overall SLW 2014 winners.

"Thank you all for the energy and the passion that you showed today and this entire week. Thank you for taking the time out to celebrate who we are as surface warriors," Rear Adm. Guamtaotao said as he announced Mitscher as the number one ship in the cruiser/destroyer category and Wasp in the staff/amphibious ship category.

With cheers of "We are Wasp! We are Wasp!" resounding though the room after Gumataotao announced their win as the overall winner of SLW 2014, Sailors immediately began talking about next year's events.

"I can't wait," said Ship's Serviceman 1st Class Bryant Wise from the Iwo Jima. "It's going to be even bigger and better." Surface Warfare Magazine

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