Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mason Gillan // Staff Writer
Since 1775, Sailors have always been a mainstay in the effort to project Naval power and maintain freedom of navigation and trade around the world. The Navy was originally made up of three rates that have lasted through centuries of change and innovation, one of those being the Boatswain’s Mate. Aboard aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) the Sailors of Deck department handle and upkeep the ship’s 100,000 tons of steel, showcasing the standard for what it means to be a Sailor.
“This is probably the most humbling experience I’ve had since I joined the Navy,” said Lt. Cmdr. Russell Goff, Deck department’s first lieutenant. “This team has truly embraced the Navy core values. The leaders who work beside me are of high moral character. They truly believe in molding and shaping a Sailor from the inside so our Sailors will learn what it means to be successful.”
U.S. Sailors have built a reputation upon the core values: honor, courage, and commitment. However, that proud heritage wasn’t built overnight. It has taken 240 years to reach this point.
“Our Sailors are known for their hard work and dedication, it’s been that way for hundreds of years,” said Senior Chief Boatswain’s Mate Louis Peters, Deck department’s departmental leading chief petty officer. “It is by no means easy to be a Boatswain’s Mate, but the Sailors of my department do a great job because they love what they do and I’m proud to be a part of this community.”
A chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link and Goff said he couldn’t be more proud of his fellow leaders who ensure that every Boatswain’s Mate is forged of the toughest mettle.
“It has been a real privilege to work with my officers and chiefs because of their leadership abilities,” said Goff. “They are extremely qualified, bad to the bone and the best Boatswain’s Mates in the fleet. I have never seen a more outstanding group of leaders in my whole 30 years of service.”
Joining the military is a big commitment with many responsibilities. For some Sailors it might even be their first job as an adult. That’s why it is important for the chain of command to establish a good foundation early in their Sailors’ career.
“We have the opportunity to be an extension to the parents of these 18 to 19 year olds who come out to the fleet,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Erik Allison. “When a parent sends their child into the Navy the expectation is that someone, somewhere, will guide these young men and women. That’s us. From the Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Classes up we develop leaders at a young age. There are 3rd Classes who are responsible for the safety and production of up to 15 Sailors. Our mindset, here, is that when we go pierside we will be the best looking ship in the fleet, it’s a pride our Sailors hold dear in all our evolutions.”
For some Sailors, deck department is a stepping-stone to their next job. Deck’s chain of command supports those Sailors who wish to strike into different ratings and offer skills that positively impact them for the rest of their military career.
Our unit cohesion and desire to fight through the challenge of starting our careers undesignated, or ‘from the bottom’ as some might say, is our responsibility,” said Lt. j.g. Kent Roseman. “We train every Sailor equally no matter what future a Sailor might desire. Even if a Sailor is going to leave the department for another rate, they still need a professional foundation to grow upon. No matter where you end up in the Navy you will never forget your time in Deck.”
Long days, hard work and black bitter coffee are things to expect while serving aboard an aircraft carrier. It’s not an easy life, but according to Chief Boatswain’s Mate Dena Reese, it’s the hard work from deployments that has brought Sailors together since the earliest days of the Navy.
“Deck department has always been a big family,” said Reese. “We work hard and we are professionals. When it is our time to shine we rock it. Being aboard this particular ship at this particular time especially takes it up a couple notches. We are on the front lines fighting the war on terror and not many people can say that. I’m really proud to be a part of this department.”
According to Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Jeffrey Ellis, there is a great sense of pride that comes with years of working with quality leadership.
“It has been an honor to serve in Deck department aboard Truman,” said Ellis. “Deck department has always been good to me. I love being a Boatswain’s Mate and if there’s one thing I know it’s the amount of respect going up and down our chain of command that makes the Deck department aboard Truman the best in the fleet.”