Royal Navy sailors earn warfare pin on US ship

Extensive knowledge of a US warship earned two Royal Navy sailors a pin usually reserved for American personnel.

AB Nicholai Higginbotham and AB Lawrence Hepworth are on temporary duty on USS Carney, serving off the Spanish coast.

The pair spent four months learning the systems of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer to earn their Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) pin.

Typically, a US sailor has 30 months to complete their ESWS but the duo knocked that down to just four, showing they had an in-depth understanding of Carney’s deck, sonar, combat systems, damage control, supply and engineering. They also had to show they knew about US naval heritage.

“It made for long days and it was a lot of hard work. There was a lot to learn given the short amount of time we had aboard the Carney,” Nicholai said.

“The best part was being able to go through all the spaces and meet everyone on the ship. It increased my appreciation for the crew and the work they do.”

The fact these two sailors were able to come aboard as allied representatives, perform their duties and responsibilities, and earn our ESWS pin is no easy feat

Command Master Chief David Marcus

While on board, the two Brits, normally based at HMS Collingwood in Fareham, were integrated into the US ship’s watch rotations and stood 12-hour watches – held to the same standard as their US counterparts.

“The ESWS was difficult at first,” said Lawrence.

“The main part was learning the basics and the acronyms. After that it was easier, we were able to adapt and revise. It was a great opportunity and the whole process provided us with a sense of inclusion.”

Both Royal Navy sailors echoed the same sentiment when they completed the final Chief’s board.

Lawrence added: “After I found out I passed it was a massive relief. The Carney sailors aboard really went out their way to help us out. There is no way we could have finished in the amount of time without their support.”

The opportunity to earn the ESWS was suggested by the Carney’s Command Master Chief David Marcus, who was impressed by the Brits’ hard work and dedication.

He added: “Since they are here in support of our mission and as long as they were willing to put in the work, I was more than willing to allow them this chance.

“The fact these two sailors were able to come aboard as allied representatives, perform their duties and responsibilities, and earn our ESWS pin is no easy feat.”

USS Carney, operating out of Naval Station Rota, in Spain, is conducting operations as part of the US Sixth Fleet – supporting US security interests in Europe.