January 19th, 2007 13:33 EST
Boxer Reaches Tipping Point
ABOARD USS BOXER, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Boxer (LHD 4) has reached numerous milestones during its current deployment, achieving what Boxer Commanding Officer, Capt. Bruce W. Nichols refers to as "The Tipping Point."
Nichols began the deployment by borrowing “The Tipping Point” philosophy from the best-selling book of the same name by economist Malcolm Gladwell, added last year to the Navy Professional Reading List. The book explains what happens when a chain reaction of positive events influence the attitudes and behavior of people in a community.
According to Nichols, a new liberty tracking system, an update of Damage Control Training Team (DCTT) requirements, a pioneering online dental tracking system, a helicopter “hot load,” and the honor of acting as the flagship for the first amphibious strike group to participate in exercise Malabar ’06 helped prove how small things can come together to make big differences.
“They understand how important it is to ensure that the ship is constantly evolving into something unique,” Nichols added.
At the start of Boxer’s deployment, Nichols energized the ship’s enlisted surface warfare (ESWS) program and encouraged Boxer crew members to earn their qualification as a way to maintain Boxer’s high standards, and reach new levels of motivation and excellence.
“ESWS motivated Sailors to excel on this deployment,” said Nichols. “By the second month, nearly all Sailors wanted to be a part of the ESWS program.”
Currently 93 Sailors have achieved their surface warfare qualification, and 78 have earned air warfare qualifications since the ship left San Diego in mid-September. Over half the crew currently holds dual qualifications, and most are on track to join them by the end of deployment. Sailors credit the program in place, and a steady increase in enrollment, to building enthusiasm for qualifying.
“This is the first time I have seen anything like this,” said Storekeeper 1st Class (SW/AW) Demetrio Kalaw, Boxer’s ESWS coordinator. “Boxer Sailors are showing that they genuinely want to excel in the command.”
Another innovation introduced was the Personal Accountability System for Common Access Card (PASCAC). The system quickly scans crew members’ military IDs and stores the information in a database when crew members leave and return to the ship. It ensures the safety and accountability of Boxer Sailors while the ship is far from home.
“It’s a good tracking system for Sailors,” said Senior Chief Store Keeper (SW/AW) Wilberto Vinzon. “It’s important for me to know where my people are, especially in the event of an emergency.”
Boxer implemented a more stringent requirement to serve on its DCTT because of lessons learned during Afloat Training Group’s (ATG) assessment of Boxer during training and evaluation periods. The new process requires an interview, on the job training, personal qualification standards, and sustained superior performance before a Sailor is recommended to join the team.
“I have worked hard to become a DCTT member. I look forward to all the training opportunities,” said Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Jessica L. Bacak, DCTT’s newest member. “I have gone through the new process and gained a sense of pride knowing I am part of a team that saves lives.”
To help maintain dental readiness, Boxer pioneered the Dental Common Access System (DENCAS) which tracks dental records online. DENCAS stores a patient’s dental record and can also be used to share patient information with other dentists worldwide to help diagnose difficult cases.
“This new system is more efficient, faster and user friendly,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SW) Patrick Dabuet. “It puts us at 100 percent dental readiness with our Sailors.”
Boxer also uses a shore-based weapons loading technique, known as a weapons “hot load.” A hot load is when ordnance is loaded onto an aircraft with its engine running.
"It’s the new, more efficient way to load aircraft with ordnance," said Marine Chief Warrant Officer Scott Roland, Aviation Combat Element’s ordnance officer. "It keeps flight deck traffic to a minimum during combat operations, allowing schedule flexibility and faster turn around time."
The growing enthusiasm helped Boxer successfully complete Malabar ’06, a multinational and multi-service exercise in India involving more than 6,500 Navy and Coast Guard personnel that helped strengthen ties between American, Canadian and Indian forces.
Malabar was the first time that an amphibious ship had taken part in the exercise, which added a new element to the scope of the exercise.
“Malabar ‘06 was a success,” said Lt. Jonathan Shannon, action officer for Malabar ‘06, and operations officer for Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 5. “We incorporated an expeditionary strike group for the first time and included the full spectrum of its capabilities. Malabar ‘06 stepped up to a new level of interoperability between nations.”
Boxer Sailors are determined to build on their track record of excellence, and its captain plans to maintain it by using "The Tipping Point" philosophy that small things come together to make big differences.
“Boxer Sailors are thinking outside the box on this deployment,” said Nichols. “They understand how important it is to ensure that the ship is constantly evolving into something unique.”
Boxer is the flagship for Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group which is currently conducting maritime security operations (MSO) in support of U.S. 5th Fleet. MSO help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. These operations deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.
Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander U.S. 5th Fleet’s area of responsibility encompasses about 7.5 million square miles and includes the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean. This expanse, comprised of 27 countries, includes three critical chokepoints at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.
By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman James Seward, USS Boxer Public Affairs