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    ATLANTIC OCEAN — Every day an assortment of flags are flown on every U.S. Navy ship; from the ensign, which is flown highest on the mast (except the church pennant, the only emblem positioned above the ensign when flown), to a variety of signal flags that communicate shipboard operations to vessels sharing the same area of operation, to battle flags that display a ship’s unique brand on special occasions.
    One flag that few ships earn the right to fly is the Silver Enlisted Surface Warfare Excellence pennant, which signifies 80 percent of all eligible Sailors with Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialists (ESWS) as their primary designator, rank E-5 through E-9, qualify in ESWS.
    The pennant will be flown by the world’s largest aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) for the first time in the ship’s history upon its return to homeport at Norfolk, Va., after its more than eight months historical maiden deployment to the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations.
    The ESWS program is designed to create dependable, knowledgeable, and well-rounded Sailors who better understand a surface ship’s equipment and capabilities. That was always the goal for Retail Services Specialist 1st Class Steven Manrique, assigned to USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) supply department and one of the ESWS program coordinators.
    “We set a high bar amongst the coordinators at the beginning of deployment,” said Manrique. “One of our overall goals with the ESWS program was to earn the pennant. We wanted every eligible Sailor on the ship to earn their pin because we want the ship to be the most competent and capable ship possible. And, we wanted the world to know we have the greatest, most hardworking, and talented Sailors in the fleet – and now, we have completed all of our goals with the program once we return to homeport with the pennant flying high.”
    While the ESWS program is designed to develop Sailors, it is mutually beneficial for the Navy to have well-trained Sailors directing and managing shipboard programs and training junior Sailors, which is why the Navy also institutes a 30-month deadline for all eligible Sailors to complete the program.
    “It took a lot of hard work and planning to chip away at our goal of obtaining the pennant and to get every eligible Sailor enrolled to complete the program before they reached their 30-month qualification date,” said Senior Chief Electronics Technician (Nuclear) Amili Harris, assigned to Gerald R. Ford’s reactor department and currently the command ESWS coordinator. “I am so proud of every Sailor who earned their ESWS pin. I am even more impressed by our ESWS coordinators. [They] should be so proud of the hard work and dedication it took to get us this pennant. I personally cannot wait to come home showing off our major accomplishment to our friends and families.”
    Since Gerald R. Ford began its deployment on May 2, 2023, the ESWS program has qualified more than 300 Sailors, with more than 100 of those being Sailors assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8.
    “Flying the pennant is a ship-wide award, it’s not just for the people who earned it,” said Gerald R. Ford’s Command Master Chief Bryan Davis, the overall manager of the ship’s ESWS program. “We now have more than 500 ESWS warriors aboard the ship, with more than 300 of those newly qualified from this deployment - that is a testament to how well the program was run. I think everyone who is associated with [the ESWS] program has done a phenomenal job teaching our Sailors.”
    Gerald R. Ford is the U.S. Navy's newest and most advanced aircraft carrier, representing a generational leap in the U.S. Navy's capacity to project power on a global scale. The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe area of operations, employed by U.S. Sixth Fleet to defend U.S., allied, and partner interests.
    For more information about the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), visit and follow along on Facebook: @USSGeraldRFord, Instagram: @cvn78_grford, Twitter: @Warship_78, DVIDS and LinkedIn at USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).



    Date Taken: 01.10.2024
    Date Posted: 01.10.2024 08:47
    Story ID: 461567
    Location: ATLANTIC OCEAN

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