Monday, October 4, 1999



By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
The USS Port Royal, moored at Pearl Harbor.

Royal cruise

From ship to shore, Navy
reforms are making a big difference
in the lives of sailors

By Gregg K. Kakesako


WHEN Navy Petty Chief Jay Magers joined the crew of the Aegis cruiser USS Port Royal two years ago, he was required to remain on the warship every four to six days even when it was docked at Pearl Harbor. The Navy required the 567-foot guided-missile cruiser to have enough crew on board 24 hours a day to provide a security force and be available to handle unforeseen situations such as shipboard fires or hazardous waste spills.

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
Master Chief Petty Officer Karen O'Connor said Navy-wide reforms
have "paid off in big dividends," allowing sailors "more time to do
other things such as studying for advancement exams and pursue
more time with their families." O'Connor, standing, is shown with
Capt. Rick Easton, left, commanding officer of the USS Port Royal,
and Senior Chief Petty Officer Richard Cass.

Since May, all that has changed. Now Magers can spend more time with his wife and two children. The 350 officers and enlisted sailors of the Port Royal now have the duty every eight days.

That's not the only change initiated last year by Adm. Jay Johnson, chief of naval operations.

Besides giving sailors more personal free time between deployments and after their daily work is done in port, Johnson initiated reforms designed to cut costs, streamline the bureaucracy and make training more meaningful.

In announcing the change, Johnson said he was convinced the Navy could "maintain readiness, continue to safely and effectively execute our many missions and at the same restructure the way we do business to reduce the workload on our sailors."

The Port Royal shows that the changes are making a difference.

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
Jay Magers, petty chief, works on the cruiser USS Port Royal,
currently based at Pearl Harbor. These days, Magers has more
time to spend with his family thanks to the
streamlining of Navy operations.

Capt. Rick Easton, Port Royal's commanding officer, said prior to Johnson's actions, "there was in excess of 100 inspections, reports and tests" each training cycle.

"He (Johnson) removed the redundancy of things by not requiring them to be checked more than once and by consolidating inspections," said Easton, who now has the authority to determine whether his crew has mastered a certain task without repeated checks.

"Before, even if I reached a standard early, I still had to repeat the training four or five times."

In addition, personnel from the Pearl Harbor Naval Station are now tasked to do some of the work that Port Royal's sailors were required to perform during their late-duty watches.

"I haven't lost the ability to train the crew in the areas where I believe it needs it," said Easton. "I can now focus on the areas where I believe we need more training."


'If a sailor is happy,
their families are happy. ...
in the long term the Navy
will see this thing
pay off.'

Karen O'Connor


Despite the change, Easton doesn't believe it will impact the readiness of the crew to fight.

"The standards haven't changed," said the 23-year Navy veteran. Command Master Chief Petty Officer Karen O'Connor, senior enlisted member of the Port Royal, said the change has "paid off in big dividends."

"It has allowed the crew more time to do other things such as studying for advancement exams ... and pursue more time with their families."

"If a sailor is happy, their families are happy," she said. "That enhances retention in the Navy ... I think in the long term the Navy will see this thing pay off."

And O'Connor said even the single members of Port Royal's crew will reap some benefits. About 55 percent of the cruiser's crew is single.

Cruiser's crew counting down
3 months to aloha

The USS Port Royal is completing an 18-month training cycle in preparation for a six-month deployment that will begin in January.

The Port Royal will join the USS John Stennis aircraft carrier battle group which is normally homeported in San Diego. Joining the Port Royal's crew will be a helicopter squadron from Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay.

Also part of that operation will be the USS Russell and the nuclear attack submarine USS Asheville from Pearl Harbor.

Gregg K. Kakesako, Star-Bulletin

"They will be able to capitalize on the adventure side of the Navy," she said.

Petty Officer Doug Callaway, 33, agreed. He plans to use his time away from the Port Royal to pursue a college degree.

Fewer duty days will mean more time for Petty Officer Mary Smith, a computer display technician, to work toward an associate degree.

But like many of the younger members of the Port Royal's crew, Smith, who has been in the Navy for only three years, doesn't have anything to compare the new regulation to.

But Senior Chief Petty Officer Richard Cass, a 14-year Navy veteran, said "there is a huge difference."

"I wasn't there when my 6-year-old girl was born," said Cass, a senior enlisted member of the ship's operations department.

"On my last ship, the USS Vicksburg, I was away for 220 days ... But now I can attend my daughter's dance recital, Girl Scout meetings and get involved in their PTA."

Cass also likes the new system because he has more say in the operations of the Port Royal.

"I've gotten a more rewarding experience in doing things that I know needs to be done," he said.

"It's made for a better ship."

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