24 Hours Aboard the USS Wasp
The First Briefing
We were invited to sit in on a briefing to the Commanding Officer, Captain Michael D. Hawley, given by the department heads. The 90-minute meeting, which reviewed preparations for bringing the ship into New York, provided a fascinating perspective on management methods in the Navy. About 60 officers and staff attended the meeting, which was held in the wardroom, where the officers have their meals.
When Capt. Hawley came into the room, all stood until “At ease” was called. Not many CEOs receive this recognition.
A PowerPoint presentation was projected onto a screen in the middle of the room. Large navigation charts of New York Harbor were placed on a table, and a series of officers, mostly in their early thirties or younger, briefed the Captain on different areas of preparation including navigation, schedule, harbor characteristics, weather, basic security threats, warnings to pass to sailors visiting NYC, etc. The meeting was similar to those any of us might attend just before the start of an important project, just usually not in front of such a large group. The risk level is sizeable when you are steering a billion-dollar ship into an infrequently visited port.
Keeping the Presenters on Their Toes
The captain asked each speaker one question; this appeared to be his method to see if they had their responsibilities well thought out. He asked that a list of “Lessons Learned” be kept for the trip, a reminder that learning needs to be a constant effort on a ship with many young officers and crew members at work. I was pleased that New York was described as “the safest large city in America,” although the basic common sense warnings were expressed. Amazingly, navigation into the harbor and up the Hudson River still utilizes landmarks to check the ship’s position like the Coney Island “Parachute Jump,” the Statue of Liberty, and the Woolworth, Empire State and Chrysler buildings.