Greetings from Honolulu! With my classmate Andy, I arrived to the CGC Sequoia safely last Saturday afternoon. She is currently in Honolulu for drills and training, and this first week has been a blur, but a blast! We jumped right into the system, integrating ourselves with the wardroom and the other members of the bridge team. Andy and I have spent the week being medical accident victims for the drills and learning the various duties and responsibilities of the bridge team—this means we’re navigating, we’re steering the ship, we’re talking on the radio, and we’re being a lookout.
This summer, our 1/c summer (crazy to think that it’s already here and in a short year we’ll be graduating…), we are placed at units where we can fill the role of a junior officer. We have collateral duties as well as watch-standing responsibilities on the bridge. Over the next 10 weeks, Andy and I will work toward earning qualifications for underway junior officer of the deck (JOOD) and in-port security watch-stander. We will be busy all the time—but not too busy that we won’t get a chance to explore Hawaii, and later in the summer some of the other islands, including the homeport of Guam!
The crew and the wardroom (the group of officers in charge) are great—they welcomed us graciously and have been very helpful in getting us acquainted with the ship and our duties. I’m definitely looking forward to the next few weeks. As part of the summer training program, we are required to write a weekly reflection, so I figured I’d tailor them for the cadet blogs audience and send them in! (Not sure why I didn’t think of that during my 3/c summer…guess that goes to show that I’m growing wiser and more experienced, right?)
So, now for the reflection part:
In the role of a JO: I definitely felt that I was observing more than I was doing this week. Because we were being evaluated on our drills and trainings, this week was definitely a little more hectic than a normal cutter would be upon first arriving to it. One of the junior officers on board said that Andy and I did well at getting acquainted with the cutter this week. We both have much more “acquainting” that we have to do (learning certain requirements about the ship for the general safety and upkeep), but with a week under our belt, we’ll be able to just do them, instead of having to ask someone to show us, or at least point us in the right direction. I definitely felt that I could have been more aggressive in working on my “quals” (qualifications) by asking more people to show me what I need to learn and signing off that I’d mastered that information or knowledge. Nonetheless, I think I did well at putting myself out there, offering to help, and simply asking questions. Next week I’m definitely going to ramp up how “aggressive” I am at getting my qualifications complete.
Leadership: I also observed the officers and senior enlisted with regard to their leadership, especially our commanding officer. Our CO is great—she is friendly, personable, and knows how to balance the needs of the ship and the mission with the needs of her people. In talking with the crew, several members have mentioned (on their own) that her command is much better than others. She and the other officers have integrated themselves with the crew and the ship. They are not too busy to talk to you, see how you’re doing, and even help you stand a watch so that you can get a little extra rest. To the crew, this is invaluable, and they love it. That’s definitely something that I have noticed—putting people first (that is, treating them like people first) is key to keeping morale high and motivation strong. The climate on the bridge and in the wardroom (with the officers) is much different than other cutters I’ve seen. The focus is more on learning and becoming proficient—it’s OK to make mistakes, do not do something properly or completely right. Instead of responding as if “You should have known better,” the officers and crew take the opportunity to impart knowledge and information so that you can do whatever you were doing better the next time. It’s about training, teaching moments, and recognizing that we as humans make mistakes and need practice to become proficient at things. This is clear in the CO’s command philosophy: training, proficiency, and teamwork. I’ve definitely seen all of those this week. I love learning (in this case, via observing) leadership!
See you next week!
More about Justin.