By Mass Communication Specialist Ricardo R. Guzman, USS Antietam Public Affairs
WATERS NEAR GUAM (NNS) -- The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) frocked 31 Sailors and pinned two senior chiefs to their new pay grade during a frocking and pinning ceremony at-sea on the ship's flight deck, May 29.
One first class, 12 second class and 18 third class petty officers stood in ranks as Capt. Michael McCartney, Antietam's commanding officer, congratulated each frockee one by one. The two senior chiefs were then called up to the front and received their new senior chief collar devices and combination covers.
"The frocking ceremony was a proud moment for our Sailors," said McCartney.
The frocking ceremony is a historical tradition that dates back to the 1800s and authorizes Sailors the right to wear the rank, insignia and assume the responsibilities of their next pay grade. Frocked Sailors do not receive the pay of their new grade until actually promoted.
"It was a surreal feeling standing up there. I thought I was in a dream," said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Kyle Woolf, from Antietam's supply department. "Getting it my first attempt was a great feeling. Most of the second classes I know got in on their fourth try."
With higher rank comes more responsibilities. For newly pinned Senior Chief Gas Turbine Systems Technician Travis Miller, from Antietam's engineering department, the level of that responsibility only becomes greater.
"I won't be in charge of just one engineering division in the department anymore," said Miller. "I'll be in charge of the whole department. It's going to be a little more challenging, but you need to get to know your people, stand by them and they'll do the same for you, no matter what rank they are."
One of the biggest challenges faced by recently advanced petty officers is overseeing peers of their former rank.
"I just need to be more professional with them now," said Woolf. "I've been in leadership roles for a while, but I need them to look up to me too. I feel that if they see me slack off or do something wrong, they'll think it's ok. I want to set them up for success."
In addition to on-the-job training, Sailors put many hours in studying bibliographies, in-rate manuals and instructions in order to advance. Sailors made time throughout the busy day to study.
"I never thought I would make it past fireman," said Miller. "Learning the rate, staying motivated, asking questions, never forgetting we all start from the bottom and having the drive to succeed are the key to advancing."
Both junior Sailors and seasoned chiefs waited months in anticipation before learning the good news.
"Looking and talking with our Sailors wearing their new rank insignia, made it exciting to be part of their success," said McCartney. "They joined our Navy to serve our country and to do something better with their lives. Today marks another step along their path of success."
Antietam is on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operation supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.