The Navy’s USS Preble CO wins the Navy Innovation Award. Commander Jeffery Heames, commanding officer of USS Preble – who also was awarded the Secretary of the Navy’s Innovation award for his leadership- and the Preble’s Fire Controlman 3rd Class Andrew Bugaj talk about it.
Commander Heames says, “Innovation is an attitude, and the ability to come up with solutions to complex problems from the bottom up. We always need fresh new ideas, creativity and critical thinking. Some of our best ideas come from our junior Sailors. This award is a team award; the 54 innovative ideas and initiatives are from Preble sailors.”
Fire Controlman Bugaj gives examples of some of the ideas put in place aboard USS Preble here in Pearl Harbor. “Our first priority is warfighting, so Sailors on our ship focused on new tactics and ways of operating – how we use helicopters, how we do anti-submarine warfare, for example.”
He says one of the division officers developed a”whiz-wheel” device to better understand how wave-action can affect the ship while maneuvering in heavy seas. This is a safety-related initiative
“We applied innovative thinking to how we do administration and navigation, even on the “mess decks” – which is where we take meals. We implemented a ‘mess decks mash up’ to force officers, chiefs and enlisted crew – in a fun way – to sit with people they might not otherwise hang out with. It works great on a long deployment. Something simple, but it had a big positive effect,” he continues.
Commander Heames says this focus on innovation is not new for the Navy. “Our ship’s namesake is Commodore Preble, who sailed in a wooden ship to take on the Barbary pirates, using innovative techniques to achieve victory more than 200 years ago. Our Navy has been innovative in submarine, aviation, and surface warfare ever since, and especially recently in cyber and special warfare.”
He adds, “We have been innovative in diversity in our ranks; we recognize everyone wants to – and can- make a difference. We have a serious job to do, but we can have fun doing it. That’s innovation, too!”