That is exactly what two commanding officers conveyed after learning their teams won first place in the 2023 Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) Installation Excellence Award competition. Naval Station Mayport won top honors in the large installation category, while Commander, Fleet Activities Okinawa claimed first place in the small installation category.
“Please join me in congratulating each of our winners for a job well done,” said Vice Adm. Yancy Lindsey, commander of Navy Installations Command. “Nominations were highly competitive, and it was very difficult to select only three finalists in each category this year. To all of our installations and activities across the enterprise, thank you for your outstanding leadership and world-class support of the ‘Fleet, Fighter and Family.’ I am extremely proud of all you do, day-in and day-out, for our Navy and our nation. Bravo Zulu!”
The excellence award program recognizes the top three installations in large and small categories for outstanding performance consistent with enterprise strategic goals and Secretary of Defense criteria during fiscal year 2022.
Large Installation Category
For Capt. Brian Binder, serving as Naval Station Mayport’s commanding officer has been rewarding due to a team he describes as motivating and with synergy.
“I see it every day and I'm amazed at the collaborative innovation that our Sailors and civilians bring to the table,” Binder said. “They are tireless, positive and I am honored and humbled to be part of this exceptional team that truly inspire me daily.”
With a commitment to being the “Finest Service to the Finest Fleet,” Team Mayport consistently and around-the-clock supports the Navy’s first Triton squadron, 21 warships, three helicopter squadrons, and more than 80 tenant commands.
Considered the most operational base in Navy Region Southeast’s area of responsibility, the installation also supports the quality of life of Sailors and families. Mayport’s Fleet and Family Support Center, for example, continues to sustain vital programs, including return and reunion training and ombudsman support, while pro-actively promoting monthly recognition and awareness campaigns. The center also led the region in monthly life skills education webinars, which received a customer satisfaction of 98 percent.
“This remarkable team provides exceptional service for our Sailors and families that increase our quality of life and those tireless efforts are making a tangible difference each and every day,” Binder said of the personnel who work at the base’s Fleet and Family Support Center. “I could not be more proud of our team.”
The port operations department successfully conducted more than 100 incident-free waterfront operations while the air operations division led more than 47,000 incident-free flight operations. In addition, Mayport’s volunteer funeral honors team serviced more than 900 funerals across 15 counties. These and other accomplishments would not have been possible without the base’s enlisted personnel.
“This is a group of professionals to look up to,” said the base’s Command Master Chief Ian Thompson of the enlisted workforce. “Across the board they get the concept of team in every shape and form. The enthusiasm and ‘Can Do’ spirit is inspirational and I am happy to be part of all that. The Navy’s future is in good hands and they set a fine example for others to follow.”
Another milestone was a record-breaking nesting season, which received statewide attention and praise. Naval Station Mayport is home to nesting sites of the endangered loggerhead sea turtle. Base volunteers built protective barriers around 54 sea turtle nests, which resulted in more than 3,000 successful loggerhead hatchlings this past season.
“Our Sailors and civilians have a sense of pride in what they do and that is something that never goes unnoticed,” Thompson said. “I am proud to be part of all this and honestly it’s extremely motivating.”
Naval Station Mayport was also selected to represent the U.S. Navy in the 2023 Commander in Chief’s Annual Award for Installation Excellence competition.
CNIC recognized two other bases in the large installation category. Naval Base Point Loma won second place, and Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka took third place in the category.
Small Installation Category
On the opposite side of the world, the commanding officer of Commander, Fleet Activities Okinawa credits his team for the base receiving first place and steadfastly fulfilling shore enterprise mission.
“The Sailors and civilians at CFAO are truly special,” said the base’s skipper Capt. Patrick Dziekan. “The hard work and dedication each and every individual puts into their job here is eye-watering. All the departments are extremely committed to supporting our mission, and if they see that another department needs help, they automatically jump in to assist. Truly selfless dedication displayed by all. I could not be more proud of this team.”
Team Okinawa, which Dziekan describes as “dedicated to mission,” fulfilled several initiatives during last fiscal year, including impressive quality of life improvements at White Beach Naval Facility.
White Beach is located near the tip of Katsuren peninsula, which makes the naval facility isolated from the rest of the country. As a result, it is one of the base’s top priorities to provide the best quality of life facilities, activities and services to those permanently stationed and on rotation at White Beach.
In the past fiscal year alone, Team Okinawa successfully worked with Kadena Air Base Commissary to provide weekly online ordering and delivery of groceries to White Beach unaccompanied housing. The team also renovated the MWR mini market and developed cost effective alternatives of grab-and-go food options for patrons. They also stood up a mailroom at White Beach so that Sailors did not have to make a 1.5-hour trip to retrieve mail at Kadena Air Base. In addition, Team Okinawa collaborated with AAFES and Kadena Air Base Force Support Squadron to provide regular food truck services to the Sailors at White Beach.
“While all of our team's accomplishments are very noteworthy, the quality of life initiatives, especially at White Beach, have been a top priority since I arrived at CFAO,” Dziekan said. “Our Sailors’ quality of life has large and lasting impacts on morale, job performance and future retention.”
The Sailors who make up Team Okinawa are some of the best in the shore enterprise. For Command Master Chief Mike Chadwell, he could not be prouder of the base’s stellar Sailors, whom he describes as “engaged.”
“Conversations with Sailors inevitably show their eagerness to succeed both professionally and personally,” Chadwell said. “Sailors like these do not require external motivation, only a vision, mentorship and feedback.”
Amongst the base’s other accomplishments include uninterrupted fleet support during more than 300 vessel movements, more than 280 sorties, and completion of multiple furnishing projects for more than 400 unaccompanied housing rooms to name a few.
“The strategic importance of Okinawa within the INDOPACOM AOR goes without saying,” Dziekan said. “The CFAO team provides uninterrupted mission support to surface, subsurface, air and expeditionary forces on a daily basis, ensuring our ability in maintaining a free and open Indo Pacific.”
Also in the small installation category, Naval Air Station Whiting Field earned second place while Naval Air Facility El Centro won third place.
Commander, Navy Installations Command is responsible for worldwide U.S. Navy shore installation management as the Navy's shore integrator, designing and developing integrated solutions for sustainment, development of Navy shore infrastructure, and execution and oversight of multiple quality of life programs and services. CNIC oversees 10 Navy regions, 70 bases and more than 48,000 employees, who sustain the Fleet, enable the Fighter and support the Family. Follow CNIC on Facebook at Facebook.com/NavyInstallations, Twitter @cnichq and Instagram @cnichq.