New CNO connects with sailors in Bahrain on first overseas tour
By CHRIS CHURCH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 18, 2015
MANAMA, Bahrain — Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson told sailors in Bahrain Sunday the purpose of his round the world tour of naval bases is to get a sense of what sailors are thinking and what he can do to facilitate their needs as he settles into the job he took over barely a month ago.
During town hall meetings at Navy bases in Virginia, Hawaii, Japan, South Korea and now Bahrain Richardson has discussed issues ranging from paternity leave to shorter sea deployments and new uniforms.
It was no different during his stop in Bahrain where he and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens spoke only for about 15 minutes before turning it over to the sailors to ask questions and voice their concerns.
“A primary focus of mine early in my CNO tenure is to connect with as many sailors as I can,” Richardson said. “It’s really just to get a sense of how are things going, what’s on our sailors' minds, how’s the fleet doing; what can I do to enable them to do their job better.”
Sailors didn’t shy from the opportunity, asking questions and expressing their opinions about a wide range of topics including performance evaluations, advancement and the new physical fitness assessment standards.
At one point, Richardson asked the sailors to raise their hands when asked if they liked the new physical fitness standards, disliked them or just didn’t care. Though a fair number liked the changes, quite a few voted that they didn’t like them or didn’t care. The new standards, beginning next year, will relax body weight standards.
Stevens said sailors should expect more changes in the future to the physical fitness assessment, though he did not elaborate on what those might be. He said the Navy is brainstorming possible ways to integrate technology, such as the Fitbit, into physical fitness programs.
Bahrain is home to U.S. 5th Fleet which is responsible for 2.5 million square miles, including the strategically important and conflict-prone Persian Gulf.
Richardson’s next stop is Naples, Italy, home of the U.S. 6th Fleet.