“I am so grateful for the opportunity to be able to learn and grow as a shiphandler in the 5th Fleet AOO,” said Ens. Tyler Hines, auxiliaries officer and newly qualified Officer of the Deck. “Being able to accrue so much experience on the bridge during our deployment will give me knowledge and experience that I will carry with me for the rest of my career.”
In an effort to recognize junior officers for their experience, highlight significant career milestones, and encourage young officers to drive forward, Churchill designed, created, and distributed a new patch as a symbol of their experience at sea. When a SWO completes 1110 hours of watch on the bridge, they will be awarded this patch, a powerful symbol of surface warfare pride which includes a SWO’s designator code.
American military patches have a rich and storied history with their first prominent use coming during the American Civil War. As our country and our military evolved, the patches became more colorful, more meaningful, and more storied. They are important across all military branches and their respective communities.
The Naval aviation community is widely known for exciting patches celebrating hours piloting aircraft. They represent a significant milestone in a pilot’s career and carry with them a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment. Churchill is hoping to instill some of that pride in its SWOs by being the first to award patches for time spent and experience gained on the bridge.
"Naval aviation has a proud tradition of commemorating significant milestones and qualifications in the form of uniform patches,” said Lt. Cmdr. Mark “Gramps” Kummer, Air Department officer in charge, Helicopter Maritime Strike 70.2, deployed aboard DDG 81. “I think this a move in the right direction for the surface community to instill pride in their accomplishments at sea."
SWOs are required to keep a Mariner Skills Logbook of the amount of hours they spend on the bridge, an initiative meant to improve basic mariner skills in the wake of the 2017 comprehensive reviews. This log allows SWOs to document and track progress and experience, giving them an opportunity to self-assess and understand what skills they need to work on. The hours in consideration for receiving the patch are calculated in accordance with these log books.
“Recognizing our bridge watchstanders for their experience is a long-awaited step in our community’s mission of training competent mariners,” said Lt. Cmdr. Charles Fuehrer, Plans and Tactics Officer and Senior Watch Officer aboard Churchill. “I’m proud to be a part of our ship and to watch these junior officers surpass each and every milestone.”
Winston S. Churchill currently has eight junior officers who have surpassed the 1110 hour mark, and eight more rapidly approaching the milestone. They are expected to surpass the mark before the conclusion of deployment.
“The patches the Churchill wardroom designed are ‘SWOtivating,’” said Cmdr. Tim Shanley, Winston S. Churchill commanding officer.
“Experience goes a long way in the formation of competent mariners,” he continued. “These patches allow us to recognize the hard work of these junior officers while safely navigating this multi-billion dollar warship in or near harm’s way.”
Winston S. Churchill departed Norfolk, Va., Aug. 10 for a regularly-scheduled deployment. The crew is conducting operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and Pacific through the Western Indian Ocean and three critical chokepoints to the free flow of global commerce.