NORFOLK Va. (WAVY) – Amid the hustle and bustle of the carrier bay aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, sailors slow what they’re doing to listen to a message blaring over the loudspeaker.
It’s the new Commanding Officer, Capt. Christopher Hill.
After a series of updates and reminders for the crew, Hill tells his crew to “love and respect” one another. He signs off, calling the Ike “the best damn ship in the Navy.”
Sailors admit his style is different.
Several said the culture shifted within days of Hill taking over the helm of the Ike in March, his unreserved yet personable messages breaking up long days filled with hard work.
“Definitely the upbeat of his attitude and his motivation to be here. It encourages me,” Petty Officer First Class Christopher Clemens said of his new boss. “Having a really cool guy talking to us like we’re on his level. It’s always good to be cared about.”
Clemens said Hill regularly makes his way through the ship, checking in with sailors at every rank and rate.
Hill most recently served as commanding officer of an amphibious assault ship. His crew on the Ike is now five times larger, but he said his leadership philosophy has remained the same.
“This is a tough life,” he said. “As you can tell it’s super noisy all the time, it’s hard to sleep, we miss our family and friends. If you could have a leader who can treat you with respect and love and value you, I think that’s an obligation I have to have.”
He said he’s eyed a role like this for the past decade, relishing the chance to do what he calls the most challenging job possible in the force. While there are similarities to his last ship, on which the crew conducted some flight operations, he said that leading the Ike is in a league of its own.
“Here, it’s a whole different ball game with 70-plus aircraft on the flight deck all day long,” he said.
In his classic, to-the-point, Northeasterner style, Hill remains mission-focused.
“To launch and recover aircraft to stomp on bad guys,” he said, “that’s what we do.”