By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kathleen O’Keefe
USS JOHN C. STENNIS, in port – Lt. Zachary Brown, the Assistant Navigator aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), has been named the Naval Air Forces Pacific Fleet Junior Ship Handler of the Year Mar. 28.
Each year candidates from different classes of ships are considered for this award; Brown was selected to represent all aircraft carriers stationed on the west coast of the United States.
“It is a great honor to win this award in such a distinguished field of ship handlers,” said Brown. “I’m sure that it was incredibly tough to pick a winner.”
Brown attributes his success not only to hard work, but the guidance and training of those who work with him.
“I had many expert officers of the deck (OODs) who were kind enough to spend many hours discussing ship handling theory and techniques with me,” said Brown. “My goal is to train future OODs and conning officers so they can be skilled ship handlers.”
Stennis’ commanding officer, Capt. Ronald Reis, voiced his approval of Brown’s selection.
“Lt. Brown has defined the bar by which others are measured,” said Reis. “His thorough preparation, in-depth knowledge, calm professionalism and mature decision-making have made him my most trusted ship handler and bridge team leader.”
Brown, a native of Ledgewood, N.J. and a 2002 graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, is an E-6 Mercury pilot, previously serving with Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 3. He has been awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (two awards), the Air Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal.
The award comes roughly one month after Stennis completed a successful seven-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operations.