SEVASTAPOL, Ukraine – The fleet master chief (FLTCM) of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa spent two days touring facilities and meeting junior and senior Ukrainian Sailors along with the recently selected first Ukrainian master chief petty officer of the navy (MCPON) in Sevastopol, Ukraine, Sep. 11.
While in Ukraine, FLTCM JoAnn Ortloff visited Ukrainian MCPON Riabtsev Serhii, toured the naval academy, spoke with Ukrainian sailors and toured the command and control Ukrainian ship Slavutich.
“This is the first time I’ve had the chance to visit Ukraine and it’s a true honor to meet with Ukraine’s first MCPON,” said Ortloff. “This trip gave me the opportunity to speak to many different Ukrainian sailors and talk about the issues they deal with every day. These sailors are very intelligent and are extremely proud to serve their nation; they asked many of the same questions our [U.S.] Sailors ask.”
A highlight was meeting with 15 Ukrainian female sailors, where a myriad of topics were discussed, including the differences between the U.S and Ukrainian navies.
“I really enjoyed the presentation,” said Ukrainian Petty Officer 2nd Class Tsokur Olga. “There is a big difference between the U.S. and Ukrainian navies; the U.S Navy has more opportunities for women and I hope that our navy will, one day, have some of the same opportunities.”
Ukrainian MCPON Serhii noted that the Ukrainian fleet is young and is working hard to develop their petty officers.
“My vision is that the petty officers be an integral part of the leadership link,” said Serhii. “During my short tenure as MCPON, I’m doing the best I can to change the mindset of senior officers and Fleet Ortloff’s visit is reinforcing the same things I teach daily.”
Lt. Cmdr. Gary Hunter, U.S. Naval Forces Europe’s Black Sea/Eurasia maritime affairs officer, commented on the importance of Fleet Ortloff’s visit.
“The level of tasking that MCPON Serhii has been given is incredibly large,” said Hunter. “Fleet Ortloff’s interaction with him was been invaluable to the future development of Ukraine’s petty officers.”
The final event of the trip was a visit to the command and control ship Slavutich, where Ortloff met with the ship’s senior leadership and held an all-hands call with their petty officers.
“The crew was very squared away and represented themselves and the Ukrainian navy extremely well,” said Ortloff. “They had interesting questions and were very engaging.”
U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts a full range of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation mission in concert with coalition, joint, interagency, and other parties in order to advance security and stability in Europe and Africa.