Windshield decals, motorcycle gear and training opportunities for retiring Navy personnel were among the many topics discussed Wednesday, Sept. 12, as Rear Adm. Dixon Smith, commander of Navy Region Southwest, led a question-and-answer session at Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) Point Mugu.
Smith also formally presented base officials with two awards that had been previously announced: the 2011 Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Safety Award for bases in the large non-industrial category, and an environmental award for restoring seabirds on San Nicolas Island by capturing and removing all the island’s feral cats.
Smith said the safety award was a tribute to everyone on base.
“Safety is an all-hands effort,” he said. “If you don’t focus on safety, accidents happen.”
He presented the award to Safety Officer George Egeler, who stood next to the theater stage with nine other members of the safety office.
Smith gave the second award to Dan Shide, the installation environmental program director, commenting that the feral cat removal project was just one of many environmental success stories at the base, from protecting endangered species to last year’s massive cleanup after a fuel tanker crashed near sensitive wetlands at Point Mugu.
“You do phenomenal work,” he told Shide and nine members of his team who joined him at the front of the theater to receive the National Military Fish and Wildlife Association award.
Smith then provided updates on issues currently facing the Navy and opened up the session for questions.
First, he reassured the group of about 200 that while the Navy is indeed trying to do more with fewer people and less money, Naval Base Ventura County isn’t destined for closure anytime soon.
“We’re on the West Coast,” he said, adding that the Pacific Region is now the Navy’s top priority.
But budget cutbacks are coming, he said, and they’ll probably be noticed first in groundskeeping and facilities maintenance.
“The grass will probably get longer,” he said.
Another area that warrants examination, he added, is food service.
“The galley model is old and outdated,” he said. “We are not making money on it.”
In essence, he said, “We’ve got to figure out how to do things differently. We’ve got to be more efficient and save money.”
Smith said the Navy is following in the footsteps of the Air Force and will soon be eliminating car-windshield decals. At NBVC, details are still being worked out as to when they will no longer be required and how the old ones are to be handled.
Smith also told motorcycle riders to expect more stringent requirements in safety gear.
“I have a real hard time with those uniforms on bikes,” he said, pointing to Sailors wearing the blue Navy Working Uniform. “You can’t see them.”
He said the installations under his command will soon be ordered to require motorcycle riders to wear reflective vests on base 24 hours a day and to ban lane-splitting.
In response to a question, he said change is coming to the Fleet & Family Support Center’s Transition Assistance Program.
“The transition program we have now is broken,” he said.
FFSC personnel will soon be undergoing training in a new program that he hopes will be more effective in not only helping Sailors learn job-seeking skills but also in stressing to local businesses the benefits of hiring veterans.