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USS Maine CPO Mess Awarded Best In SUBPAC 2021

Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Phillip Pavlovich 

Commander, Submarine Group Nine

NAVAL BASE KITSAP-BANGOR, Wash. – Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC), Force Master Chief Jason Avin presented the Gold Crew Chief Petty Officer’s Mess of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Maine (SSBN 741) with the Master Chief Hugh McCracken Leadership Award Oct. 5.

The award recognizes the Maine Chief’s mess as best in COMSUBPAC for their performance throughout 2021.

“I’m a big believer that Chief Petty Officers should not be source sponsors. Chiefs need to be the first resource,” said Avin. “We need to be the ones that the officers and crew go to when they need something… and these Chiefs are doing that,” he added.

Every year, Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic (COMSUBLANT) and COMSUBPAC recognizes two top chief’s messes per coast. One fast attack submarine and one ballistic missile submarine or guided missile submarine is evaluated and selected as the recipient of the Hugh McCracken Leadership Award.

Every nomination is assessed according to their performance to lead their respective commands through training, qualifications, day-to-day operations, personnel readiness, medical and dental readiness, and the success of operational mission requirements. The award criteria defines a high-functioning Chief’s Mess as proactive in preventing destructive behaviors and aggressive in ensuring personnel are fully trained and fully qualified subject matter experts.

“This award means my chiefs were able to ensure the crew was taken care of and were able to do their job,” said Maine Chief of the Boat, Master Chief Joseph Ward. “It took a lot of deck plate communication and late nights, but my chiefs made sure our Sailors knew what right looked like.”

“I’m lucky to have chief petty officers that matured, mentored and trained the crew and that the crew responded very successfully,” added Ward.

The award is named after the first Submarine Force Master Chief, Hugh E. McCracken, but is also in remembrance of Chief Gunner’s Mate William H. Reader, who served as the first Submarine Force’s Chief of the Boat. These two leaders are revered in naval history as senior enlisted leaders who set the expectation for what it means to be a Chief Petty Officer today.