Returning Kitty Hawk sailors get reminders of conduct rules
ABOARD THE USS KITTY HAWK — Welcome home. Now tuck in that shirt, shipmate.
As the Kitty Hawk makes its way back from the Persian Gulf, crewmembers are being deluged with reminders to watch their step once they hit the pier: Don’t drink too much, don’t dress inappropriately and don’t get into trouble.
It’s part of a larger effort by Kitty Hawk and U.S. Naval Forces Japan leadership to remind the sailors of “military bearing” and to erase the bad memories lingering from last summer’s string of embarrassing incidents on shore.
“These sailors are ambassadors for the United States and the Navy,” said Kitty Hawk commander Capt. Thomas Parker. “They need to remember that every time they leave the ship.”
On Saturday night, as the ship made its way home to Yokosuka, the top enlisted sailor on board took to the carrier’s internal television system with a primer on proper dress.
“How about this one? Now that is a perfect model of what the clothing policy intends,” said Command Master Chief Marvin Dublin, gesturing to a clean-cut sailor in pressed pants and a tucked-in short-sleeved shirt.
For almost an hour, model after model cat-walked into the Kitty Hawk television studio, demonstrating what can and can’t be worn on liberty.
Tank tops? Nope.
Baggy jeans? Nope.
Midriff-baring tops? Not a chance.
The point, Kitty Hawk leaders say, is to remind sailors that Japanese perceptions of American sailors are important. More than that, the military sets specific guidelines for behavior and appearance.
“If a sailor fails to follow the dress code, his civilian clothing privilege can be revoked. He can also face disciplinary action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” read the front-page article on the Kitty Hawk Flyer, the ship’s daily news handout.
Clothing standards are spelled out in U.S. Naval Forces Japan Instruction 1020.3, the article reminded sailors.
But the regulations leave room for interpretation. What is too baggy? Depends on who is guarding the pier and checking sailors as they leave.
What’s an offensive or inappropriate design on a T-shirt? According to Parker, anything emblazoned with the Confederate flag, for instance, is off-limits. So is anything that promotes drug use or that is derogatory to a group, military service or nation.
“I think having this show was pretty informative and cleared up some of the gray area,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jose Silva, who served as one of the models for the show. “To have someone go and actually clear up the guidelines helps a lot.”
And the emphasis on liberty policies and off-ship behavior is being driven home, he said.
“You had some people who just weren’t acting right when they left the ship. Now they know that won’t be tolerated and that they’ll get restriction,” Silva said. “I think they are trying to isolate the problem areas on the ship so that everyone else doesn’t get punished, too. That will only increase morale.”