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Commander, Naval Surface Forces Atlantic

USS Oscar Austin Crucible Tests Sailors’ Mettle; Welcomes Them to the Team

by By CMDCM(SW/EXW) Clayton Alek-Finkelman
22 April 2021

NAVAL STATION NORFOLK (April 15, 2021) - The command patch for the Arleigh Burke-class, guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79). Newly-reported Sailors undergo a series of evolutions and drills testing their knowledge following command indoctrination. The Sailors then receive their command patch at the completion of drills and evolutions. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of USS Oscar Austin Public Affairs/Released)
SLIDESHOW | 5 images | OSA Crucible NAVAL STATION NORFOLK (April 15, 2021) - The command patch for the Arleigh Burke-class, guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79). Newly-reported Sailors undergo a series of evolutions and drills testing their knowledge following command indoctrination. The Sailors then receive their command patch at the completion of drills and evolutions. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of USS Oscar Austin Public Affairs/Released)
 
On board the Arleigh Burke-class, guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79), newly reported Sailors receive their command ball cap and become members of the ship’s crew as soon as they check aboard.  However, the ship’s newest Sailors soon learn that there is another, much more coveted item, which they must earn the right to wear: the Oscar Austin uniform patch for the Type III Navy Working Uniform.
 
Embracing the concept of warrior toughness and in order to build greater resiliency, self-sufficency, and trust in their shipmates, new DDG 79 Sailors are tested during a crucible-style training event at the completion of command indoctrination.  This crucible is designed to test the functional knowledge and core skills learned during indoctrination, regardless of rank, rate, or time in the Navy.  This event sets the Oscar Austin standard for every Sailor.
 
A multi-hour, integrated, realistic training event, Oscar Austin’s crucible is designed by the ship’s first class petty officers to challenge Sailors in several vital surface warfare areas. Overseen by the ship’s command master chief, all Sailors are assessed in their ability to operate as individuals and team members in complex maintenance, emergency egress, damage control, force protection, and first aid drills.  Only those who successfully finish the indoctrination curriculum and then complete the crucible, earn their patch.
 
The crucible ends with an all-hands call, where the entire crew is assembled to congratulate the newest tried and tested shipmates as they exit from their final drill of the day.  Crucible graduates enter the all-hands call applause and cheers and are then proudly and ceremoniously presented their hard-earned patch symbolically welcoming the Sailors as fully qualified members of the Oscar Austin family. 
 
The patch earned during the crucible is not one that can be purchased, so the crew knows the basic skillset and mettle of anyone authorized to wear the Oscar Austin patch.
 
“The crucible was a very fun and challenging event” said Culinary Specialist Third Class Gerardo Chavez.  “I worked with different Sailors from different departments, places, and countries. 
 
“Anti-terrorism and force protection were the best training for me.  We were put in real world situations and really have to work as a unit in order to complete the mission safely, quietly and quickly.  After the crucible, we went out and got recognized by everybody and were congratulated for going through the stressful environments that could potentially happen at any time.  It was very rewarding going through the crucible and completing it with my shipmates by my side.”
 
To the untrained eye, the patch may not seem like much, but to those who have been through the qualification process, it is more than just an indicator of what ship the Sailor is assigned to.  It is a visible reminder of the skills required at sea; a memory of what each individual Sailor and the team are capable of; and an acknowledgment that the wearer has the skills needed to act, to assist their shipmates.
 
The crucible initiative was introduced to help train, educate and imbue the ship’s newest professional Sailors with the values that the ship’s namesake, Marine Corp Private First Class Oscar Austin, who embodied the motto “Honor and Sacrifice” and reinforced the command’s philosophy of “Stronger Together. Never Quit!”
 
Austin selflessly gave his life in protecting his fellow Marines near Da Nang, Vietnam on February 23, 1969, and was posthumously recognized with the Medal of Honor. 
 
The ship is homeported in Norfolk, where the ship is conducting a maintenance and modernization availability to increase the ship’s readiness and warfighting capabilities.


 
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