>Feeding the beasts underway!

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My name is Mark Cushing. I am a Senior Chief Petty Officer Food Service Specialist and the acting Command Enlisted Representative aboard the Munro.

As the Command Enlisted Representative (CER) I act as the direct representative for the crew of the Munro to the ship’s Command.

It is my job to keep my finger on the pulse of the crew. I monitor the physical and mental state of the enlisted crewmembers and make note of any issues that may be affecting them and present this information to the Command.

I work as a “Go-Between” for the Command and the crew and as such, one of my duties is to assist the Command on writing and enforcing policies.

The most recent example is the liberty policy for the ship’s port calls in Japan. The First Class Petty Officers had some problems with old policy and expressed their concerns to me. I challenged them to write a new liberty policy that they thought was fair and I would route it up through the chain of command for review.

All the First Class Petty Officers came together and rearranged the liberty policy, making changes they believed made the policy more feasible and reflective of the responsibility crew members show while underway towards each other and towards the mission. They routed it up through the Chief’s Mess for review and approval before it was forwarded onto me.

I took a representative from the First Classes up to the Command and they pitched the policy to the Captain. This allowed the First Classes to hear the Captain’s concerns and understand his process first hand.

The policy was approved and used during the subsequent port calls in Yokosuka and may go on to become the standard Munro Liberty Policy for future port calls in Japan.

As CER, I meet everybody who reports aboard the ship. I encourage new folks to experience life off the boat and out of the bar, to go out and explore the beautiful state of Alaska where we live.
I also find out a little about newly reported folks, where they’re from, what their job entails onboard Munro and what they expect from their time onboard.

It’s important to establish a rapport with new crewmembers immediately. I want them to see me as someone outside their chain of command that they can come to with any problems or situations that they may not be comfortable with bringing up to their chain. I encourage the crew to use their chain of command, but I simply provide an alternative for the crew to come to and vent their frustrations or provide help that can’t necessarily be provided by their chain of command.

I also see every person before they leave the boat. I can never decide what I like more: Checking out with crewmembers as they leave or checking in with new crewmembers. I like to see how people have grown and changed during their short time here.

I ask everyone the same question before they leave, “If you were king and could change one thing about the boat, what would it be?”

I rarely have somebody without an answer, and most of the answers I get are truthful, well thought out and constructive. The surprising thing is that a lot of the issues they touch on are the same issues discussed by the Command at the top level.

It’s very interesting to be in the position to hear the same concerns of the Command from the point of view of the crew. I find it both encouraging and satisfying to know that when I hear the concerns of the crew, the Command is often on the same page.

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