If you think your command has the best master chief in the Navy, it’s time to sound off.
The sea service is seeking nominations for the prestigious Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Delbert D. Black Leadership Award, according to NavAdmin message 111/19, which was announced last week.
Officials will bestow the honor on a first-tour command master chief, chief of the boat or command senior chief who has been at his or her current command at least a full year between Jan. 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019.
“There is value in identifying command master chiefs who are punching above their weight — leading confidently with strong character and a persistent commitment to mission success," Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russ Smith told Navy Times.
The Navy’s top enlisted leader likened the prize to the Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale Leadership Award, which annually celebrates the best commanding officers in the fleet.
The enlisted version pays homage to Master Chief Gunner’s Mate Delbert Black, a World War II veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor who served 31 years on active duty from 1940 to 1971.
In 1967, Black became the first enlisted sailor to serve as the top non-commissioned adviser to the sea service’s most senior officer and civilian leaders. During his tenure, that office became known as the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy.
Black also is credited with establishing a formal command master chief program for the Navy.
When the award debuted in 2008, it was dubbed simply the Del Black Deckplate Leadership Award. It was the brainchild of then-MCPON Joe Campa, who declared “Del Black has always been the standard I measure myself by as a chief petty officer, and his impact on sailors is still being felt.”
The honor, he said, should be presented to enlisted leaders who provide the “same kind of impact he did.”
In 2013, then-MCPON Mike Stevens reworked it as the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Delbert D. Black Leadership award, with a call to find a singular enlisted sailor “who demonstrates those same ideals of service with sacrifice as demonstrated by MCPON Black, and upholds the highest standards of professionalism and integrity.”
Nomination packages for this year’s honor will be submitted up the command master chief chain of command to each of the four fleet master chiefs.
They will convene boards to find the finalists for the honor, but the MCPON’s office gets the last word.
A banquet will be held in the recipient’s honor in Washington D.C. on Nov. 21.
Mark D. Faram is a former reporter for Navy Times. He was a senior writer covering personnel, cultural and historical issues. A nine-year active duty Navy veteran, Faram served from 1978 to 1987 as a Navy Diver and photographer.