USA: Guided-Missile Destroyer Junior Officers ‘Get in Game’

The guided-missile destroyer USS Cape St. George (CG 71) implemented a training program aimed at giving junior officers a better understanding of the ship’s engineering spaces during the Ship’s Restricted Availability (SRA) maintenance period at the shipyards in San Diego, July 25.

The program trains ensigns in spotting and documenting maintenance discrepancies within the ship’s engineering spaces regardless of their specialties.

The training lasts approximately two weeks and is considered a stepping stone for an ensign to earn their surface warfare officer pin. It’s part of the crew’s larger effort to extend the life of the ship to more than 30 years by encouraging a culture of knowledge about the ship’s material condition of readiness.

“We owe the [Junior Officers] training and skill sets in order to be credible leaders,” said Capt. Don Gabrielson, commanding officer of the Cape St. George. “If we’re operating at capacity and we know our ship with the little things, then the big things will take care of themselves. Then we have a ship that’s more combat ready and able to do its mission because everybody is in the game.”

In addition to increasing the knowledge of junior officers, the training program also provides relief to the engineers and technical experts who previously searched for discrepancies.

“Now instead of one person finding the problem and the same guy fixing the problem, we have one person finding the problem and the technicians can focus on fixing it,” said Lt. Cmdr. John Hamilton, Cape St. George’s chief engineer. “It’s a 50 percent time in reduction for the technician, so it provides that necessary relief.”

Hamilton also stressed the importance of the program and how it could be beneficial to other ships.

I think this is definitely something other ships should do, because it’s a good use of my time and (Junior Officers) training. It helps with the self-assessment and the self-sufficiency of the ship,” he added. “It teaches a brand new ensign how to get into the books and helps reinforce the physical application of the book knowledge.”

Gabrielson said he’s considering expanding the program to include all spaces.

“We’re going to be working ship-wide, and frankly it’s going to encompass the entire wardroom,” he said. “We started in the engineering spaces because it’s a straightforward way to get your arms around something and it’s what I like to call a target-rich environment for learning. It can help them make a big difference in a short amount of time.”

Ens. Helen Tanehill, administration officer aboard the Cape St. George, reported to the ship in May and said the program helped her get familiar with the ship.

“It put me in spaces where I haven’t been before,” she said. “I learned things about my ship that I probably wouldn’t have learned just sitting in the office.”


Source: navy, July 28, 2011;