WASHINGTON -- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) (SS/SW) Rick D. West gave his last 'HOOYAH' during the change-of-office ceremony at the Washington Navy Yard, Sept. 28.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert was the guest speaker for the ceremony and highlighted MCPON West's accomplishments during his naval career while thanking him for his leadership.
"MCPON West, you made the Navy better through your willingness to listen and learn," said Greenert. "I watched you firsthand in the Pacific Fleet, at U.S. Fleet Forces, as VCNO, and I had the honor to serve with you for one year as CNO. MCPON West had the heartbeat of the Navy. Sailors communicated with him. He challenged Sailors and they loved it."
The ceremony marked the end of a nearly 32-year career for West, who had served as the 12th MCPON since Dec. 12, 2008. During his time as MCPON, West instituted the Senior Enlisted Continuation Board, introduced CPO 365, and implemented the mandatory enlisted warfare designation.
"MCPON West made a difference and led by example. He made a tangible improvement in our Navy," said Greenert. "I say to you and Bobbi (wife), thank you very much and our nation and our Navy thanks you."
West did not discuss personal accomplishments during his retirement remarks, instead focusing on thanking family, friends, shipmates and mentors who helped shape him into a leader and the memories he'll take with him of his years of service.
"There is simply no way I can mention you all. Just know that if you are here today, you played some part in the success that I have enjoyed," said West. "It has been an honor and privilege to serve our great Navy for nearly 32 years and especially to serve as MCPON for the last four. Thirty-two years is a long time, but when you are talking about the end of a fantastic journey, it was just a "flash of time." I've never had a "bad command" because I feel commands are what you make of them and how you choose to seize the opportunities."
"The thing I'm going to miss the most is, by far, the people and the energy and innovation of our Sailors and families. The 'engine' that truly drives our Navy is our people. Our Sailors are what makes our Navy the best that's ever sailed the world's oceans," said West.
MCPON (AW/NAC) Mike D. Stevens took the helm of the enlisted force as the Navy's 13th MCPON after receiving the ceremonial cutlass from MCPON West.
"I was honored to pick MCPON 13," said Greenert. "It was not an easy task. MCPON Stevens is a proven and effective leader. This is a guy ready to lead our Navy and I look forward to your insight and perspective."
Stevens, a native of Montana, joined the Navy in 1983 and most recently served as Fleet Master Chief for U.S. Fleet Forces Fleet Master Chief in Norfolk. His previous Command Master Chief tours included U.S. 2nd Fleet, Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Atlantic, Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14, and Naval Air Station Pensacola.
MCPON Stevens thanked Admiral Greenert for his trust and faith in his selection as MCPON.
"I am both humbled and honored to have been provided this magnificent opportunity to lead and serve our Sailors, their families and our government civilians as the 13th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy," said Stevens.
Stevens thanked West for his service, leadership and friendship and spoke to the Navy, saying he is excited about the future and looking forward to serving the Navy as MCPON by working together to carry out the Navy's mission.
The MCPON serves as an advisor to the CNO and to the Chief of Naval Personnel in matters dealing with enlisted personnel and their families. The MCPON is also an advisor to boards dealing with enlisted personnel issues; is the enlisted representative of the Department of the Navy at special events; may be called upon to testify on enlisted personnel issues before Congress; and maintains a liaison with enlisted spouse organizations.