New Mark VI Patrol Boat Command Opportunities: Q&A

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From Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Public Affairs

Last year, U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officers (SWOs) learned of two new and exciting opportunities in the Coastal Riverine Force. Junior SWOs on track to successfully complete their second division officer tours were notified of the opportunity to screen for command-at-sea billets serving in one of the Navy’s newest platforms, the Mark VI Patrol Boat. Following in the footsteps of the PT boats of World War II and the Riverines in Vietnam, SWOs now have a cutting edge platform and new opportunities for small unit leadership. Additionally, department heads requesting to screen for command early were notified of an opportunity to be slated to serve as a Mark VI company commander, commanding three of the boats. Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) Public Affairs Officer Cmdr. Cate Cook recently sat down with Capt. Stan Chien, commander, Coastal Riverine Group 1, and Lt. Cmdr. Tim Yuhas, the second tour department head and early command SWO detailer at Navy Personnel Command, to learn more about this opportunity in the Coastal Riverine Force.

Q1. Tell us more about this new opportunity and how it came to be.
A1. (Yuhas) In August of last year, Commander Naval Surface Forces announced the first opportunity for post-division officers and post-department heads to screen for command-at-sea billets as Mark VI Patrol Boat commanding officers and company commanders. These billets add to our early command inventory of Patrol Coastal Ships (PCs) and Mine Countermeasure Ships (MCMs) located around the World. The surface warfare community values command at sea – it’s the pinnacle of leadership – and for a talented group of board-screened junior officers they get to command as early as year five of commissioned service. Mark VI Companies are located in Little Creek, Virginia, and San Diego and deploy forward to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet Areas of Responsibility. The Mark VI Patrol Boat commanding officer (lieutenant command) will have a crew of 11 people and be responsible for operating the 84-foot craft. The company commander (lieutenant commander command) will deploy with their three craft and provide operational command and control of the Mark VI as well as provide administrative and materiel support. They can expect to get underway with their company for one to three day patrols as the boats expand the operational reach of the Mark VI.

(Chien) The command position was created because operation of the Mark VI requires dedicated, resourceful leadership to safely maintain and fight these advanced patrol craft. The Mark VI is transforming the Coastal Riverine Force through extended reach and increased combat power. Currently junior officers that are part of the Mark VI crews are very capable of operating the platform, but the command position was created to attract the top performers of the surface community needed to seize the initiative and lead the Mark VI program through the maturation process required to fully integrate into the Chief of Naval Operations’ (CNO) Maritime Design.


IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. (February 2, 2018) Capt. Stan Chien, commander of Coastal Riverine Group (CRG) 1, speaks during a change of command ceremony held onboard Naval Outlying Landing Field Imperial Beach Feb. 8. The Coastal Riverine Force provides a core capability to defend designated high value assets throughout the green and blue-water environment and provides deployable adaptive force packages worldwide in integrated, joint and combined theaters of operations (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Boatswain’s Mate Nelson Doromal/Released)

Q2. Who is eligible?
A2. (Yuhas) This is a tremendous and rewarding opportunity that is open to the best and most fully qualified officers. The screening for lieutenant commander command (Mark VI company commander, PCs, and MCMs) remains unchanged – in fact, the screening board does not define who is screened to which assignment; slating is a function of the officer’s timing, preferences and needs of the Navy.
Division officers who wish to apply for Mark VI Patrol Boat commanding officers must meet the following requirements:
a) Attain formal designation letter as a SWO
b) Serve at least 36 months in a ship
c) Complete at least one deployment
d) Complete Basic Division Officer Course
e) Complete Advanced Division Officer Course (nuclear-qualified officers exempt)
f) Earn their Engineering Officer of the Watch qualification
g) Demonstrate sustained skills in shiphandling and seamanship while assigned to their ship
h) Screen for department head
i) Complete the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command screening

Q3. Some SWOs are unfamiliar with the Mark VI. What can you tell us about this platform?
A3. (Chien) Mark VI patrol boats are the newest platform in Navy Expeditionary Combat Command’s inventory. Eighty-four ft. in length, the Mark VI is a highly capable platform whose primary mission is to provide capability to persistently patrol littoral areas beyond sheltered harbors and bays for the purpose of force protection for friendly and coalition forces and critical infrastructure. Missions include security force assistance, high value unit shipping escort, visit board search and seizure support operations, and theater security cooperation. Crew sizes are small at maximum of 12 personnel, affording an opportunity at small unit leadership not found elsewhere in the Surface Warfare community, coupled with a strong sense of camaraderie. The crew consists of two full watch teams, each with a patrol officer, boat captain, coxswain, engineer/gunner, navigator and communicator/gunner.

Q4. When looking at what might be called the “traditional” career track of a SWO, the opportunity to command a Mark VI comes after a SWO’s second division officer tour at sea – a time when many SWOs are assigned a shore tour. What would you say to an officer who is hesitant to follow their second division officer tour with another tour at sea?
A4. (Chien) This new opportunity is not going to be for everyone – but if you are someone who thrives at sea and in leadership positions, we would consider it a privilege to have you join our team in the Coastal Riverine Force. The platform provides a unique opportunity to experience a small, tight knit community that integrates with other Navy units such as Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD). Your experience in the “blue water” fleet will contribute significantly to the design of future mission sets realizing the full capability of these outstanding boats.

(Yuhas) Every situation is different – as such, Division Officers approaching the end of their 2nd DIVO tour need to assess their personal and professional goals. From the professional standpoint – you are correct – one can expect to leave their 2nd DIVO tour – spend approximately six months in their training pipeline before reporting to their craft. They will go through workups and should expect to have two deployments over the two year window they will be in Command. Our community has always valued “WUK” – water under the keel – there’s only one way to get WUK and that is at sea! I had a great friend and phenomenal SWO once say to me “Experience comes only after you need it” and it is the truth! You must build your experience base to become – more experienced! Why wouldn’t you want to start that as early as possible? By putting your name in the hat and being screened for early command – whether that is lieutenant or lieutenant commander command – you’ve signaled your intent and so has the Navy by trusting in you to lead our future. As that leader you will ensure our combat readiness and the solemn stewardship of our nation’s most prized possession – its sons and daughters. Who wouldn’t be humbled and honored by such an opportunity?

Q5. What are the professional and personal benefits of requesting to screen for Mark VI Patrol Boat Command? Will this tour make SWOs more competitive than their peers when it comes to future screening and promotion boards?
A5. (Chien) As any SWO knows, look for opportunities to lead early and often if you want to break out from the pack. The Mark VI Patrol Boat commanding officer tours are going to be extremely challenging but rewarding – there is no better place to hone your leadership and shiphandling skills while leading a dedicated team of Sailors than in the Coastal Riverine Force on one of the Navy’s newest platforms. The Surface community has generally rewarded those officers who command early with additional opportunities at the O-5 and O-6 level… and we expect to see the same thing for our Mark VI early command officers.

(Yuhas) When it comes to future promotion and screening boards, PERS-41 is working to ensure precepts are updated to clearly articulate to a board the value of Mark VI Command. We believe that an officer who has been screened by community leadership and successfully completes Command will be very competitive at any screening board. Further it’s worth noting that in a case where an officer screens but is not slated, that officer’s records will be updated with an early command screening code. That officer should also make sure that the words “SCREENED FOR LT COMMAND” are at the top of every FITREP that follows until they are screened for the next higher milestone. There are two reasons why an officer might be screened but not slated: their career timing and billet availability. If this happens it is not considered a negative reflection of that officer’s record, nor is there any indication of non-selection in the officer’s official record. By applying for Early Command, your record will get a hard look by some of our community’s strongest leaders. These are the same people who sit on commander command boards, etc. – it’s a free look to see how you are doing!


GUAM (April 6, 2017) A MK VI patrol boat, assigned to Coastal Riverine Group (CRG) 1 Detachment Guam, maneuvers off the coast of Guam April 6, 2017. CRG 1 Detachment Guam is assigned to Commander, Task Force 75, which is the primary expeditionary task force responsible for the planning and execution of coastal riverine operations, explosive ordnance disposal, mobile diving and salvage, engineering and construction, and underwater construction in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy Combat Camera photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alfred A. Coffield)

Q6. Aside from individual benefits, how will the Surface Warfare Community benefit overall from this initiative?
A6. (Chien) The surface warfare community will see real dividends from this early command opportunity. The junior officers selected to command Mark VI Patrol Boats will have a tremendous opportunity to mature their leadership, tactical and shiphandling skills throughout their tour with the Coastal Riverine Force. As these men and women grow in their Navy careers and advance to positions at sea with more responsibility, the skills they honed in the Mark VI will enhance the operational effectiveness of any ship in which they serve.

Q7. What kind of officer is the Coastal Riverine Force looking for to command its Mark VI patrol boats and companies?
A7. (Chien) For both the company and patrol boat command positions, we’re looking for bold, innovative and tactically-astute officers who are comfortable in positions of great authority and responsibility. The crews are small, so we need officers who can build a cohesive bond with and among the crew. Most importantly, and in keeping with the CNO’s focus upon toughness, we need officers who can fight and win with this incredible new patrol boat. The Coastal Riverine Force is professional group of Sailors with a unique mission spanning a variety of missions not found in any other communities. Coastal Riverine sailors will deploy to various locations throughout the world, in unit sizes ranging from five sailors to over 200, fulfilling the missions of embarked security teams, aircraft security teams, port and maritime infrastructure security, landside security, high value unit escorts and overt unmanned aerial systems surveillance missions.

Q8. What is a typical tour like?
A8. (Chien) Mark VI Patrol Boat tours will be 24 months in lengths and located in Little Creek and San Diego. Mark VI crew members should expect to deploy for seven out of every 18 months to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operations. Deployments to 5th fleet will be to Bahrain where Mark VI’s conduct exercises and operations with the Explosive Ordnance Disposal community and Joint units, provide High Value Unit escorts, maritime Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions, littoral patrols, and support to maritime interdiction operations. Deployments to 7th fleet vary significantly from 5th fleet due to the geography of the Pacific. Mark VI deployments initiate from Guam and the main effort will be to expand the range and capabilities of the Patrol Boat to participate in Theater Security Cooperation efforts.

Q9. What does the training pipeline look like for the new Mark VI Patrol Boat Commanding Officer position?
A9.  (Yuhas) Slated Mark VI commanding officers can expect to go to the Surface Warfare Officers School for a portion of the Surface Commanders Course (SCC) – take a revised command assessment, attend Command Leadership School at The Naval Leadership and Ethics Center, also in Newport, and then proceed to NECC for follow-on training in order to give them the foundation they need to be successful. For those slated to lieutenant commander command, the pipeline will look much the same as it currently is: senior officer legal, command leadership, SCC, Shipride, TYCOM Indoctrination, command assessment (as needed) and NECC training (as appropriate). The pipeline for Mark VI commanding officers will generally take six months. Company commander training may take a little longer based on course availability.

Q10. If you could go back in time to the days when you were a Lieutenant, would you have pursued the opportunity to command a Mark VI patrol boat? If so, why?
A10. (Chien) Without hesitation. Trailblazers who compete for these positions have the opportunity to join an exclusive club comprised of some the Navy’s most respected leaders who also cut their teeth leading small, fast boats at sea. Just look at President John F. Kennedy and Adm. John D. Bulkeley…no one can deny the legacy they created in their leadership of small boat crews as Navy lieutenants during World War II. This is an incredible opportunity for a young officer and I would have considered it an honor and a privilege to have been given the chance to lead a small boat crew at sea.

(Yuhas) I wish it was available when I was leaving my DIVO tours! Command of a PC was challenging and yet the most rewarding tour I have had in the Navy so far. How awesome would it be to drive and lead a crew of Sailors in today’s version of a PT boat!

Q11. What should a DIVO and SWO do if they’re interested?
A11. (Yuhas) The first step is meeting all the prerequisites we discussed earlier – once you meet them please reach out to me so I can send you some templates for the Command Board that you will need to complete as well as the letters you need to get which will clear your way for the Early Command Board. The board is held semi-annually in June and November. I’m standing by to help get you into command – please send me an email (timothy.yuhas@navy.mil) or give me a call and we can talk (901.874.3485)!


MILLINGTON, Tenn. (Feb. 14, 2018) Lt. Cmdr. Tim Yuhas poses for an environmental portrait in his office at Navy Personnel Command at Naval Support Activity Mid-South. Yuhas details board-screened Early Command officers to MK VI, Mine Countermeasure and Costal Patrol Ships around the world. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matthew Riggs/Released)


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New Mark VI Patrol Boat Command Opportunities: Q&A

Making a Navy Sailor

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Rear Adm. Stephen C. Evans
Commander, Naval Service Training Command

Navy Sailors have a long history of being tough and that is no different today. They are physically fit, strategically smart and more resilient than ever.

GREAT LAKES, Ill. (March 13, 2017) A recruit division commander motivates and instructs his recruits on marching safety in inclement weather at Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Ill. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Seth Schaeffer/Released)
GREAT LAKES, Ill. (March 13, 2017) A recruit division commander motivates and instructs his recruits on marching safety in inclement weather at Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Ill. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Seth Schaeffer/Released)

How do they do it? It starts with basic military training, where our most experienced Sailors instruct our newest Sailors. To continue our legacy of toughness, experienced Fleet Sailors need to join our training team.

We have more than 320,000 Active Duty Sailors around the world. Nearly 265,000 of those Sailors are in the enlisted ranks, all of them performing vital functions.

GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Feb. 6, 2017) A recruit division commander motivates recruits during warm-up exercises at Freedom Hall fitness center onboard Recruit Training Command (RTC). (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Seth Schaeffer/Released)
GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Feb. 6, 2017) A recruit division commander motivates recruits during warm-up exercises at Freedom Hall fitness center onboard Recruit Training Command (RTC). (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Seth Schaeffer/Released)

Whether they serve on an aircraft carrier, an amphibious assault ship, a cruiser, a Littoral Combat Ship, a destroyer, a submarine, in an aircraft squadron or in an ashore unit, our Sailors are highly capable operators who help protect the world’s sea lanes and keep America safe.

How do we train Sailors to be effective Navy professionals, no matter the type of ship, aircraft or unit in which they serve?

Recruit Training Command at Naval Station Great Lakes is the Navy’s only boot camp where all of our enlisted Sailors start their professional naval service.

From the moment each recruit steps off the bus, all of them with a different background, hometown and upbringing, they are challenged to uphold the Navy Core Values of Honor, Courage and Commitment.

GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Oct. 30, 2012) Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Sonseeahray Walker, Recruit Division Commander of the Year, performs a recruit uniform inspection at Recruit Training Command. (U.S. Navy Photo by Lt. Liza Swart/Released)
GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Oct. 30, 2012) Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Sonseeahray Walker, Recruit Division Commander of the Year, performs a recruit uniform inspection at Recruit Training Command. (U.S. Navy Photo by Lt. Liza Swart/Released)

Over the course of eight weeks, recruits are trained by the Navy’s best Sailors known as recruit division commanders and navigate the crucible of high stress training evolutions designed to push them beyond their mental, physical and emotional limits, preparing them for the operational demands of our warfighting fleet.

By the time they graduate Boot Camp, Sailors will understand the basics of Navy customs and courtesies; grasp the tenants of seamanship and watchstanding; receive weapons training; and be skilled in shipboard firefighting and damage control all while maintaining a physical fitness regimen, in which every Sailor must be able to pass the Navy’s Physical Fitness Assessment before graduating and proceeding to in-rate training.

Furthermore, before graduating boot camp, every enlisted Sailor since 2007 has been battle tested aboard USS Trayer during Battle Stations (BST) 21. Trayer is a 210-foot replica of an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, stocked with state-of-the-art special effects. Recruit toughness is put to the test in this overnight crucible that includes fighting real fires and flooding, simulated missile attacks, mass casualties and ship survivability scenarios.

Just as recruits receive basic military training and mentorship from their recruit division commanders, their transformation continues in the fleet under the supervision of their division leading petty officers and chief petty officers.

GREAT LAKES, Ill. (May 30, 2017) Steelworker 1st Class Zachary Joyce, Recruit Division Commander and leading petty officer of the USS Pearl Harbor barracks at Recruit Training Command (RTC), instructs new recruits on the proper way to fold their blanket when making their racks. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Susan Krawczyk/Released)
GREAT LAKES, Ill. (May 30, 2017) Steelworker 1st Class Zachary Joyce, Recruit Division Commander and leading petty officer of the USS Pearl Harbor barracks at Recruit Training Command (RTC), instructs new recruits on the proper way to fold their blanket when making their racks. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Susan Krawczyk/Released)

We are all accountable to maintain our force readiness through advanced training in the Fleet. To achieve our mission and constantly prepare for the next generations of Sailors, we must continue to invest our most talented Fleet personnel as trainers for our future.

I challenge our fleet Sailors to take up the mantle of responsibility, make a difference for the future of our Navy, and serve a tour of duty as a recruit division commander at Recruit Training Command.


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Making a Navy Sailor

Navy Live

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By Vice Adm. Bill Moran
Chief of Naval Personnel

Vice Adm. William F. Moran, Chief of Naval Personnel, speaks to Sailors during an all-hands call aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43).

Vice Adm. William F. Moran, Chief of Naval
Personnel, speaks to Sailors during an all-hands call aboard USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43).

Next week we will announce the names of about 20,000 Sailors selected for advancement to E-4 to E6. Sailors and COs routinely ask about the notification process –answers to two of the most frequent are below:

Q: Why not provide command triads the chance to notify those who did and didn’t advance, before publicly releasing the results?

A: In response to feedback from the fleet, we are going to make a change to the notification process. Many COs, XOs and CMCs tell us that by simply releasing the results on the web and via social media, they lose a valuable opportunity to counsel and mentor their Sailors–before they get the news from their Shipmates. An advance heads-up, that doesn’t slow down the notification process, allows time to reach out to congratulate and counsel as necessary.

Q: When can we expect to see the advancement results?

A: Typically, Navy tradition is to release E4-E6 advancement results prior to Memorial Day and Thanksgiving; however, the timing does not always work out.  We do try to meet these timelines and releasing the results via Navy social media helps expedite the process.

Given fleet feedback and consistent with efforts to continue to reinforce the roll and authority of command triads, the goal for advancement results release for this cycle will look like this:

-Monday, May 19 – Quotas released publicly

-Thursday, May 22 (morning Eastern Time) – Command triad notified via BOL of their command’s results.

-Friday, May 23 (morning Eastern Time) – Individual Sailor advancement notification on BOL, Navy Enlisted Advancement System (NEAS) and NKO.

-Friday, May 23 (approximately 1000 Eastern Time) – Public release via Navy social media, web and news sites.

Feedback will be important–let us know if this improves the process and how we can continue to meet the collective needs of our leadership and our Sailors.

Q: The designation, conversion, and advancement opportunities for Professional Apprenticeship Career Track (PACT) Sailors are lower than in the past–why is this and what advice can you offer?

A: First off, PACT Sailors are absolutely necessary to accomplishing the apprentice-level work required in the Fleet. Over the last two years we brought in a large number of these Sailors to help improve at-sea manning levels to reduce gaps at sea.

Engineman 3rd Class Malcolm Price, center, assigned to the littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1), is pinned by his mentors Gunner's Mate 1st Class Michael Davis, left, and Engineman 2nd Class Miguel Cantu during a frocking ceremony.

Engineman 3rd Class Malcolm Price, center, assigned to USS Freedom (LCS 1), is pinned by his mentors Gunner’s Mate 1st Class Michael Davis, left, and Engineman 2nd Class Miguel Cantu during a frocking ceremony.

As a result of these manning shortfalls, we were able to designate PACT Sailors in an expedited time frame, well below the 24-months onboard guarantee. We now recognize that this may have created an unrealistic and unsustainable expectation.

In our efforts to stabilize communities and ratings, and to avoid unpredictable and unwelcomed advancement rate swings (the ones we all recognize as unproductive–100% for several cycles and then single digits for years to follow), we have reduced the immediate reliance on our PACT inventory to quickly fill rated apprentice-level gaps.

Feedback is clear, this progress may be viewed as double-edged. Many view “stability” as helpful and needed, but to those who signed up with the understanding and expectation that they would quickly and easily convert, this “stability” has slowed down what appeared to be an expedited conversion timeline.

PACT Sailors should still anticipate being on track for designation by 24 months at their initial duty station (and probably not much earlier) but should be encouraged to start the conversation process as soon as possible.

Continued command and unit level leadership mentoring will help set expectations and prepare Sailors to achieve transition goals–encouraging Sailors to utilize Command Career Counselors, Career Development Boards and the Career Exploration Module within the Career Waypoints system, https://careerwaypoints.sscno.nmci.navy.mil.

Additionally, PACT Sailors should be familiar with the Job Opportunities In the Navy (JOIN) interest battery, https://join.sscno.nmci.navy.mil, to aid in job identification and subsequent designation into communities that best fit with their abilities and interests.

These resources along with continued mentoring and guidance from the chain of command will help to ensure our Sailors are aware of their options and the steps required to optimize their opportunities (e.g. retake the Armed Forces Classification Test (AFCT) to improve their scores and/or earn a driver’s license). In most cases, transition success is influenced at the unit level–by the leaders who know these Sailors best.

Fleet Beldo and I leave this weekend to meet with Sailors and their families in Japan and Hawaii–in fact we will be there during the advancement notifications. Please keep the feedback and suggestions coming on these and other issues of interest.

See you around the Fleet.
CNP

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Navy Live

Here Comes the BOOM!

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U.S. Marines assigned to Lima Company, Battalion Landing Team 3/2, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit conduct a squad assault exercise in Al Galail, Qatar, during Operation Eagle Resolve.

Eagle Resolve is an annual multilateral exercise designed to enhance regional cooperative defense efforts in the Gulf Cooperation Council nations and U.S. Central Command.

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