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NEWS | Feb. 1, 2021

Chief Heritage Training Fights Through COVID-19 Aboard Battleship New Jersey

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Gina Danals 

Chief Heritage Training Fights Through COVID-19 Aboard Battleship New Jersey
SLIDESHOW | 1 images | Chief Heritage Training Fights Through COVID-19 Aboard Battleship New Jersey CAMDEN, N.J. — The Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial is pictured moored in Camden, New Jersey. For more than a decade, Navy chief petty officers and chief selects from around the globe have traveled to the Battleship New Jersey, to participate in its annual Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Heritage Academy. This year, due to COVID-19, the program was redesigned to accommodate a virtual event. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Gina Danals.

For more than a decade, Navy chief petty officers and chief selects from around the globe have traveled to the Battleship New Jersey, affectionately known as “Big J”, to participate in its annual Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Heritage Academy. This year, however, brought a unique challenge — one Navy chiefs were determined to overcome.  

Undertaking the social distancing challenges brought about by COVID-19, chiefs comprised of active duty, Reserve and retirees, from around the fleet came together to hammer out a plan to ensure the Fiscal Year 2020 chief selects could still participate in one of the most anticipated events of the chief initiation process. 

The end result was the Big J’s Virtual CPO Heritage Week — an online event designed to immerse chief selects in the lives of battleship Sailors as well as provide leadership development training.  

The five day virtual event placed 34 chief selects, calling in from across the country, into five teams. Each training day began with reciting the Sailor’s Creed followed by presentations on the previous day’s assignments. The various assignments were designed to build and enhance leadership abilities and included such tasks as creating a virtual representation of the POW/MIA table, developing physical fitness videos, and organizing a virtual remembrance ceremony honoring the 20-year anniversary of the USS Cole bombing. The final project for the teams was developing a Big J Navy Pride presentation, highlighting what the chief selects had learned throughout training.   

Chiefs lead training daily on a variety of topics including the value of effective communication, Sailor empowerment, damage control and funeral honors. Each training ended with a question-and-answer segment for deeper discussion. 

Closing out the long day of training was a virtual charge book signing. During this time, chief selects were given the opportunity to break into smaller teams, speak with chiefs and ask questions or seek advice about what it means to be a chief in the United States Navy. The chief selects could then download and print charge book entries. 

In addition to training and homework, senior Navy mentors joined the conversation, including Chief of Navy Reserve Vice Adm. John Mustin, Reserve Force Master Chief Chris Kotz, Vice Chief of Information Rear Adm. Paula Dunn, as well as command master chiefs serving around the world. Additionally, the chief selects had the honor of speaking with several special guests, including Master Chief (retired) James Parlier, former command master chief of the USS Cole and Army Chief Warrant Office 5 Phillip Brashear, son of the renowned Master Chief Navy Diver Carl Brasher.   

Big J’s CPO Virtual Heritage Academy graduation ceremony rounded out the week’s events. Photos of each chief select were displayed along with a map showing their locations. As their names were read, each Sailor was officially welcomed to the legacy of battleship leaders who have come before them.