Friday, April 20, 2012

Writing to Your New Commanding Officer

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression” may be a cliché, but you should keep this in mind when you sit down to write a letter of introduction to your new commanding officer. It’s not rocket science, but it does require some thought and attention to detail. 

Your goal is to briefly introduce yourself, provide relevant contact information, fill the command in on any special personal issues that impact your immediate future, and give a sense of cheerful eagerness to get on with your new job. The letter will be read by your commanding officer (CO), executive officer (XO), and department head. Very likely, it will also make its way to your sponsor and the officer you will be relieving. Keep this in mind as you draft your letter; there are some rather infamous examples of poorly written letters of introduction floating around the fleet.
Below are a few tips on drafting your letter:
  • Be brief and to the point without being cold. It is okay to let some of your personality to shine through, but don’t bother with a lot of frivolous personal details.
  • Formal modes of address are appropriate. Find out the name of your new CO and begin with “Dear Captain XXX.”
  • Don’t try to be funny--humor rarely translates well on paper, particularly in your first communication with your new commanding officer.
  • Include a full list of contact methods (including addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail) and your travel plans between now and when you report aboard.
  • Give some brief personal details such as where you grew up, your commissioning source, and the name of your wife and kids (if applicable).
The above list is not intended to intimidate; it is presented merely so you can avoid some of the pitfalls that previous junior officers have occasionally fallen into. If you keep it positive, to the point, and use the judgment that helped you earn your commission, your letter will serve you well.

From the United States Naval Institute's Naval Wiki HERE.


James Hammersla said...

When I first became a Staff NCO (USMC) we were taught this should be done with your new/gaining Sergeant Major. After my transition to the Navy I have done this with every Commanding Officer and each has replied with a letter as well. This little thing was something I considered very thoughtful since I guess their time is more cramped than my own.

Anonymous said...

Captain Lambert,

Never having been an officer or even pretending to understand the protocol of what an officer must go through when he reports to a new command, I find that even as a senior enlisted man I never felt that a letter of introduction to the Commanding Officer was appropriate. When I was a junior Petty Officer I never presumed that I had the right to speak to an officer unless he requested my input, let alone communicate with my Commanding Officer of my own accord. But in my later years in the Navy, after Z-Grams changed many things in the Navy the officer to enlisted communications changed radically and I felt that in many cases communications bordered on fraternization, could it be that a number of Commanding Officers relieved of duty in this past couple of years were victims of the present policies.

Very Respectfully,

Anonymous said...

Perhaps this is a community specific activity - but I've not heard of anyone in the past ten years do this. I have heard of a brief beer at the club with your future CO, but the introductory letter just seems very passe these days. The Navy (at least tac-air Naval Aviation) is a pretty small world these days and most folks know, or know of each other. If we're talking about a brand new ensign or JG... Well, no one really wants to hear from them anyway.

Justin Rogers ENS, USN (1170) said...

Leaders communicate.

Anonymous said...

or "name of husband and kids (if any)"

southron_98 said...

Please allow me to change the subject but this is worrying me to death. The movie "Sink The Bismarck" is a great example she had a admiral and a capt. I can under stand that like Halsey and his fleet but a single ship?

By the way have you read the recently released records on its sinking? She struck her colours and the regular sailor(s) protested the order to ignor it and keep firing?

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