Seabees Visit USS Ronald Reagan for “Bees to Badges” Tour

By MC3 Cody Hendrix, USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs                                                                                                                                          

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Seabees stationed at Port Hueneme visited the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), San Diego, Calif., June 16, to learn about serving as a master­at­arms (MA) on an aircraft carrier.

Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. William Moran announced a new program – Bees to Badges – in January to help improve Seabee advancement and retention opportunity, while also meeting new requirements for the MA community.

This program offers Seabees the opportunity for conversion to MA prior to their Career Waypoints Re­enlistment (C­WAY) window. The tour aboard Ronald Reagan provided the ‘Bees an up close and personal opportunity to experience ship life for an MA.

The Seabees who toured the ship included those whose packages had already been accepted, packages awaiting approval and those who were simply interested in the program.

Builder 2nd Class John Montecalvo, Naval Construction Group 1, reports to MA “A” school in October. The ship tour was the first time he stepped foot on an aircraft carrier.

“I think a tour aboard this ship was absolutely beneficial for us Seabees,” said Montecalvo. “A requirement for this program is to be stationed on an aircraft carrier, so seeing how these MAs do what they do gave us a better understanding of how things will go once we get out there.”

Equipment Operator 2nd Class Stacy Williams, Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 303, plans on putting in her package as soon as she gets her recommendation letter, and is hoping it gets accepted.

“I think the program is an amazing opportunity,” said Williams. “It gives good Sailors the chance to stay in the Navy and keep honing our skills. I also think the tour was a phenomenal experience for us all.”

Because Seabees have experience in security patrols and small arms they are more closely aligned with the MA mission than other communities.

“It’s a seamless transition,” said Master Chief Arcolia Raines, leading chief petty officer of Security Department aboard Ronald Reagan. “With their combat skillsets, Seabees are perfect candidates for this program.”

Enlisted community managers intend to open this opportunity to all Seabee rates, targeting year groups 2012 and 2003­2008. As the program matures and the community health strengthens, targets will start to narrow. The target number for fiscal year (FY) 2015 is 30­35 Seabees; for FY 2016 it increases to 90­110.

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