By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Joshua Murray
Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) earned the Retention Excellence Award for fiscal year 2015, which marked the second year in a row the ship can proudly display its “golden anchor” status.
Commander, U. S. Fleet Forces Command grants the award to commands that met the reenlistment benchmarks set in the annual Career Information Program Review (CIPR) during the previous year. These specific goals track the command’s commitment to the growth and development of Sailors.
Ford exceeded the standards of the CIPR, with a retention rate of 81.3 percent for Sailors with six years or fewer in the Navy, 100 percent for Sailors with six to 10 years, and 90 percent for Sailors with ten years or more. Ford’s crew also had an attrition rate of less than five percent.
Master Chief Navy Counselor Gene Garland, Ford’s senior career counselor, attributed the command’s exemplary retention and attrition rates to the command climate cultivated by leadership.
“Sailors will tend not to tell you they don’t like the Navy, they’ll say they don’t like their command,” said Garland. “We’re blessed here with a command where Sailors feel important. The commanding officer literally takes the time to talk with everyone coming in.”
Garland credited Ford’s success to Sailors feeling welcome into the Navy, with every Ford Sailor going through a career development board within thirty days of checking aboard.
“If you went to a restaurant and you were never welcomed or greeted, and you didn’t enjoy your time there, you didn’t feel appreciated, why would you want to go back? The Navy is the same way,” said Garland.
Garland said that Sailors’ positive attitudes toward the command are also a contributing factor to the low attrition rate, stating that Sailors are more likely to think through decisions and their outcomes based on the potential detriments to their careers when they are happy at work.
Machinist Mate 1st Class Frederick Overbay, a departmental career counselor for Ford’s Reactor Department, cites financial security, affordable healthcare, and job stability as reasons for reenlisting this past October.
“There’s such a positive command climate here,” said Overbay, adding that most new Sailors he works with say they want to reenlist because they have such a good first impression of the command.
As a Retention Excellence awardee, Ford is authorized to paint its anchors gold and fly the Retention Excellence pennant, signifying its accomplishments in keeping talented and experienced Sailors in the Navy.
Ford is currently under construction at Huntington-Ingalls shipyard and scheduled for commissioning in 2016.