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NPS Graduate Honored With Navy’s Coveted Stockdale Leadership Award

Article By: Kenneth A. Stewart

Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) alumnus Cmdr. Chase D. Patrick of Manassas, Va., has been honored as one of two recipients of the Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale Award for Inspirational Leadership – the awards will be presented during a special ceremony in the Pentagon in November.

One of the Navy’s premier honors, the Stockdale Award is given annually to two naval officers below the rank of captain – one from the Pacific and the other from the Atlantic Fleet – who demonstrate exceptional leadership and are recommended by their peers.

“It came as a complete shock and surprise … I got the call on a Monday morning, it was very unexpected,” said Patrick.

Patrick studied operations research at NPS, and was well remembered by his advisors at the university.

“Cmdr. Patrick was an exceptional student … His work was an outstanding demonstration of the kind of insights that can be gained by using relatively simple simulation models in smart ways,” said Dr. Arnold Buss, a research associate professor in NPS’ Modeling, Virtual Environments and Simulation Institute.

Patrick also recalls his time at NPS, crediting the university with helping him to think critically, and to develop mental discipline.

“You cannot underestimate the role of critical thinking, that is one of the things that NPS did for me … [NPS faculty] were very challenging and they forced me to apply my analytical skill sets,” said Patrick. “Studies at NPS allowed me to apply critical thinking and mental discipline, the ability to approach problems in a methodical manner … It was very congruent with what we require of our control grade officers, I think that NPS’ role in that was very important.”

Patrick was recommended for the Stockdale Award after commanding the USS Chaffee – an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii – by the ship’s current commanding officer, Cmdr. Justin Kubu of Anderson, S.C.

 Cmdr. Chase Patrick, center, hosts captain Johnathan Hillstrand from the Discovery Channel's “Deadliest Catch” program for a tour of his ship, June 2, 2011, while serving as Commanding Officer of the USS Chafee. Patrick, and operations research graduate of NPS, was recently awarded the Navy’s prestigious James B. Stockdale Award for Inspirational Leadership. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy Navy Region Hawaii)

“I felt compelled to recommend Cmdr. Patrick for the award for the record of achievement and culture of excellence on the Chafee during his tenure as commanding officer … Much of the success I have enjoyed in command is directly attributable to his lasting leadership,” said Kubu.

Patrick sought from his first day in command to make the Chaffee a special place to work. Frustrated by the conduct of some of the Sailors under his command, he embarked upon a plan to instill professionalism throughout his organization.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90), front, and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers JS Yamayuki (DD-129) and JS Yamagiri (DD-152) conduct formation drills during a passing exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 3rd Class Shane Miller) 

“I rooted out any sort of bad behavior on the ship,” said Patrick. “If you have that kind of work environment, it will never be as excellent as it possibly could be. If you have sailors that dread going to work in the morning, then you have a huge problem.”  

Patrick notes he had a clear vision for what he wanted the USS Chafee to become – a ship where individual crewmembers saw themselves as professionals and acted accordingly.

“I was committed to a work environment where everyone was treated with dignity and respect … my expectation was that our work environment would radiate professionalism,” said Patrick. “If you have a work environment that is characterized by negative energy, hostility, poor behavior … chances are, [crew members] are not going to be able to maximize their potential.”

Patrick believes that the work environment created was characterized by the five words that make up his command philosophy, “Mission accomplishment by Navy Professionals.”

“To maximize the success of the people assigned to me, I have to make them the very best professionals that I can. If you do that, it has to make you better as an organization,” said Patrick.

The USS Chaffee is home to some 350 personnel and is named for Senator John Lester Hubbard Chafee, a Marine veteran of Guadalcanal who also served as the Secretary of the Navy.

Posted October 16, 2012

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