Friday, June 14, 2013

New book recommendation


                                SALTWATER LEADERSHIP

                                by RADM Robert O. Wray,Jr.,USN 

                                         CLICK ON THE SMALL BOOK COVER ICON TO ORDER 



Rear Admiral Robert O.Wray Jr., USN was President of the U.S. Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey at the time he wrote and edited this book for publication by the U.S. Naval Institute (USNI). He is nearing retirement and this work is a parting gift to shipmates. Profits from your purchase are another parting gift from the Admiral to maritime charities. We have described many times before our trust in the Naval Institute's Board of Editors and professional editorial staff. As you know we frequently link to Naval Institute publications even before we read them, and consider virtually all USNI publications to be American Admiralty Books "RECOMMENDED" even if we haven't yet prepared a review .  This one we have read cover to cover. However we probably couldn't pen a better endorsement than this by a former WWII era junior naval officer:

              "I wish I had this book when I was a junior officer at sea. I hope you'll read it, and be a better officer for it. Our nation needs that"- Former Lt (jg) USNR and former Commander in Chief U.S. Armed forces, President George H.W. Bush.

 Now note the underlined portion of this recommendation from Admiral Gary Roughead,USN, former Chief of Naval Operations. 

 "Saltwater Leadership" is more than a terrific, relevant leadership primer for young officers. It's a worthwhile read regardless of seniority and a book to be perused often as a valuable, practical leadership course check"
To these recommendations we would like to add some observations, and suggestions.


(1)The book addresses junior officers of the Navy, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine. The author does state that because of his background the book does tend to be somewhat "navalcentric." There is another very small but important uniformed naval type service that could benefit from this book and that is the NOAA Corps, consisting of just over 400 uniformed commissioned officers who carry naval rank, are subject to integrated duties with the armed forces as needed and commanding the oceanographic research ships, some of the marine sanctuary enforcement vessels, field teams and aircraft of NOAA. These are the officers who are in charge of the units gathering the data, often in difficult and dangerous environments that go into the Charts and Coast Pilots that all of us use aboard ship.In the past they have also been seconded to various operations within the Navy, Coast Guard, and even the Army. 

 (2) The senior enlisted corps is not addressed in the book, yet at and above the First Class Petty Officer level many positions, especially in the Coast Guard may be filled by  either a junior commissioned officer or a senior enlisted member. Many small Coast Guard units and elements have senior enlisted "Officers in Charge", "Executive Petty Officers", or "Operations Petty Officers." Sometimes these small units will have a commissioned officer in the Commanding Officer, Executive Officer, or Operations Officer billets, and sometimes within the span of less than a year the same billets may be filled by Chief and First Class Petty Officers. The actual job requirements may not change at all. For example some small ships and boat stations traditionally "commanded" by E-7s through E-9s  under a "Group Command" commanded by a Chief Warrant Boatswain get reorganized under an expanded group or sector with a more senior commissioned officer as Commander. The various officer like billets assigned to senior petty officers previously are reassigned to junior officers to "provide early career command and leadership experience". Sometimes reorganization at group and sector levels reverses the process, reintroducing the non commissioned structure. On both Navy and Coast Guard ships, but very prominently on Coast Guard ships senior boatswains mates and operations specialists serve as deck watch officers underway. 

(3) Within the Coast Guard, Senior Chief and Master Chief job descriptions include "augment the officer corps in administrative duties not related to rate". The suggested reading list for advancement above E-7  has included over the years various versions of Officer Handbooks. There are many Coast Guard commands with only a single commissioned officer and Chief through First Class Petty Officers fill the usual subordinate officer billets. 

(1) Saltwater Leadership should join the reading list for Senior and Master Chief Petty Officer advancement and for NOAA Corps commissioned Officers and those NOAA civil service mariners with "Chief" titles such as "Chief Boatswain", "Chief Boatswainsmate", "Chief Engineer" .

(2) Future updated editions ( and we believe there will be many) should address our proposed expanded audience of both junior officers and senior petty officers and some effort should be made now to encourage senior petty officers, NOAA Officers, and NOAA civil service shipboard "Chiefs" to read this book.


 We observe that this is a work broadly applicable to a wide variety of maritime leaders across more service lines and ranks than originally imagined. We think it will eventually become one of the Naval Institute's classic multi-generational references like the BLUEJACKET'S MANUAL and will undergo many editions over generations. Its format lends itself to assignment to new author/editors for updates far into the future long after Rear Admiral Wray and his various contributors have been piped aboard the final landing.

RECOMMENDATION: If you are presently serving between the grades of First Class Petty Officer to Lieutenant in any of the naval services read this book now! If more senior, or even if retired read this book as soon as possible in order to keep up with the rising generations of naval leadership for whom this will be a first, or early, and sometimes only work on naval leadership read at the time you encounter them in their career.  


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