New Navy MCPON Selected
Fleet Master Chief (SS/SW) Rick West has been named the 12th master chief petty officer of the Navy.
A career submariner and 27-year Navy veteran, West was tapped by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead on Friday. Roughead was West’s former boss at Fleet Forces Command and Pacific Fleet before the admiral became CNO.
West served for 11 years as a command master chief and has seen duty onboard five submarines and one destroyer.
He will take over for retiring Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (SW/FMF) Joe Campa on Dec. 12, when Campa departs on terminal leave. Campa shocked the fleet Nov. 3 when he announced he was leaving, saying he was concerned about losing his connection with the deck plates and becoming a lame-duck MCPON. At two years and five months, Campa will have served the shortest tour as MCPON in the 41-year history of the job.
“I’m awed and humbled at the opportunity to succeed Joe Campa, who is a longtime friend and trusted shipmate,” West told Navy Times on Dec. 5. “He made tremendous contributions to our Navy and chief’s mess — as I see it, he laid the foundation and it’s up to us now to build the structure.”
West will pick up a number of Campa’s final initiatives in various stages of completion.
Still in the works are chief’s standards and conduct boards — a chief’s mess alternative to captain’s mast; an overhaul of enlisted evaluations that would see junior sailors and petty officers graded on separate criteria; and the groundwork for an extensive overhaul of all enlisted warfare qualifications with an eye on making them mandatory for all sailors, and making them more rigorous.
Campa has relied on West as a key sounding board and member of his “leadership mess,” a group of 121 senior enlisted sailors who work directly for flag or general officers.
As a result, West has been directly involved with developing at least two of these three initiatives. It was West who oversaw the pilot program for the standards and conduct boards — and did much of the work laying out the policy for final approval, sources tell Navy Times.
In addition, Campa told Navy Times that West and Pacific Fleet Master Chief (SW/AW) Tom Howard were both key players in developing the concepts for the new E-6 and below evals.
“I’ve got a great feeling about this,” said Master Chief Machinist’s Mate (SW) Mike Gwinn, with the carrier Kitty Hawk. “He’s a quality guy, someone I saw as willing to go the extra step and get things done right.”
West began his career as a submarine quartermaster and rose to become the senior enlisted sailor at Submarine Forces Pacific after being both a chief of the boat and a squadron command master chief.
His career headed for the surface when he became the command master chief of the destroyer Preble, operating out of San Diego — a tour he completed in 2005 when he was picked for the Pacific Fleet job.
A native of Chattanooga, Tenn., he joined the Navy on Aug. 14, 1980, spending nearly six months in the delayed entry program before reporting to recruit training in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 4, 1981.
After Campa announced his retirement, West immediately became the clear favorite in a field of 17 candidates during a month-long selection process.
Sources say other candidates considered by Roughead included:
• Howard, at Pacific Fleet.
• Command Master Chief (AW/SW) April Beldo, with Naval Service Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill.
• Command Master Chief (AW/NAC) Jon Port, with the carrier George H.W. Bush.
Name: Rickey Dale West
Home: Chattanooga, Tenn.
Enlisted: Aug. 14, 1980
Date of rank: June 16, 1997
Career history: Tours aboard the ballistic missile submarine Ethan Allen from 1981-82; the boomer Thomas Edison from 1982-83; the fast-attack sub Sea Devil from 1984-86; worked for Commander, Naval Activity United Kingdom from 1986-89; served aboard the boomer Tecumseh from 1989-1992; worked for Commander, Submarine Forces Pacific Fleet from 1992-95; served aboard the fast-attack submarine Portsmouth from 1995 to 1997; worked for Commander, Submarine Squadron 11 from 1997 to 2000; worked for Commander, Submarine Forces Pacific Fleet from 2001 to 2004; served aboard the destroyer Preble from 2004 to 2005; worked for Commander, Pacific Fleet from 2005 to 2007 and became Fleet Forces command master chief on June 30, 2007.
Awards and decorations: Legion of Merit; three Meritorious Service Medals; four Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medals; two Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medals; two Navy ‘E’ Ribbons; Five Good Conduct Medals; National Defense Service Medal; Antarctica Service Medal; Humanitarian Service Medal; Sea Service Deployment Ribbon