gCaptain forum members have been vocal in questioning the US Merchant Marine Academy’s (Kings Point) relevance in the modern world of increasingly large and complex commercial ships, however an officer aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) has proved that the institution is doing something right.
Each year thousands of candidates from different classes of ships are entered in a competition for the title of the Navy’s Best Ship Handler of the Pacific. This year, the Naval Air Forces Pacific Fleet Junior Ship Handler of the Year award was bestowed on King’s Point alumnus Lieutenant Zachary Brown, who currently serves as Assistant Navigator of the 103,300 ton, 1,092 aircraft carrier USS Stennis. LT Brown was selected by his command to represent all aircraft carriers stationed on the West Coast.
“It is a great honor to win this award in such a distinguished field of ship handlers,” said Brown. “I’m sure that it was incredibly tough to pick a winner.”
Brown attributes his success not only to hard work, but the guidance and training of those who work with him.
“I had many expert officers of the deck (OODs) who were kind enough to spend many hours discussing ship handling theory and techniques with me,” said Brown. “My goal is to train future OODs and conning officers so they can be skilled ship handlers.”
“LT Brown has defined the bar by which others are measured,” said Captain Ronald Reis, the Stennis’ commanding officer. “His thorough preparation, in-depth knowledge, calm professionalism and mature decision-making have made him my most trusted ship handler and bridge team leader.”
Brown, a native of Ledgewood, Nww Jersey graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy – King’s Point – in 2002 and is an E-6 Mercury pilot, previously serving with Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 3. He has previously been awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (two awards), the Air Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal.
The award comes roughly one month after Stennis completed a successful seven-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operations.