NEWS | Jan. 29, 2021

Initiation Innovation: Navigating Chief Season in the Midst of COVID

By MC3 Aron Montano C7F Public Affairs

U.S. Navy -- Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Navy has persistently found ways to continue operations while still adhering to mitigation efforts. This persistence is not just shown in operations, but also in traditions.

Master Chief Jason Haka, command master chief of U.S. 7th Fleet, virtually connected with chief selects from over 30 commands in the 7th Fleet area of operations to discuss the importance of becoming a chief petty officer and to prepare them for the responsibility they are soon to assume.

The meetings were conducted using various platforms to allow Haka to reach a wide coverage of units, including those on mainland Japan, Guam, and ships that were underway.

“This allowed everyone to maintain distance and stay safe,” said Haka. “I found it to be very effective. Some connected from their offices, topside of their ships, or at home. We were able to have some great back-and-forth dialogue.”

During their dialogue, Haka reminded the selectees that, even though some in-person aspects of the initiation process were missing, the foundations and standards remained the same.

“The pandemic limited us from having the large group interactions, but it doesn’t take away from what we’ve done for past chief petty officer initiations,” he said. “These chief selects that are going through their capstone event are still being held to the same standard as chiefs in the past. They’re still being trained to the standard of being a chief petty officer.”

Haka expressed his pride in the performance of the fleet-wide chief’s mess ability to adapt to the conditions of the pandemic.

“It’s almost eye-watering to see how the fleet-wide chief’s mess rallied and took on this challenge,” said Haka. “COVID didn’t stop us from taking care of business and doing what we felt was important. These new chief petty officers are going to be ready to rock. I couldn’t be more proud to be a chief petty officer right now.”

Haka also attributed the resiliency shown this chief season to the overall mettle of the Navy.

“You’re not ever going to hold us down as a Navy,” he said. “We’ve been through a lot of adversity. When presented with a challenge, we’re going to rise up to the occasion.”

As the U.S. Navy's largest forward-deployed fleet, 7th Fleet employs 50-70 ships and submarines across the Western Pacific and Indian oceans. U.S. 7th Fleet routinely operates and interacts with 35 maritime nations while conducting missions to preserve and protect a free and open Indo-Pacific Region.