At a San Diego, Calif. trainer, over rounds of virtual underway replenishments, man overboards, and pierside moorings, the Navy’s top junior officer shipdriver emerged from a field of 28 finalists, the Navy announced Friday.
And the 2010 winner is… Lt. j.g. Nicole Lobecker, assistant combat systems officer on cruiser Port Royal.
“It was surreal,” Lobecker, in a Navy newsstand story, said of unexpectedly winning the award. “I was stressed and nervous when I showed up for the final competition. I stayed up late studying the rules of the road the night before and I even brought briefs with me to study.”
The contestants were graded on engine and rudder commands, obeying the rules of the road, and executing a navigation plan, but also being able to improvise. In the end, it came down to Lobecker and Lt. Matt Klock, navigation officer onboard destroyer Truxtun. Lobecker won.
“It was clear that both these officers understood both their individual ship characteristics, the basic forces that effect a ship, and superbly demonstrated exceptional knowledge, confident and mariner skills,” Vice Adm. D.C. Curtis, head of Naval Surface Forces, said in a message Friday. “In the end, Lt. j.g. Lobecker excelled across the range of challenging shiphandling evolutions, including mooring to a pier, unrep and man overboard recovery.”
Curtis summed up the message with a quote from former Fleet Admiral Ernest King: “The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into a situation that requires great shiphandling.
“Lt. j.g. Lobecker and Lt. Klock,” Curtis continued, “epitomize his words.”