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NEWS | July 2, 2024

NAVSEA Sailor awarded Navy Shore Sailor of the Year

By Naval Sea Systems Command Corporate Communications

WASHINGTON — Naval Sea Systems Command’s (NAVSEA) Hull Maintenance Technician 1st Class Petty Officer Jennifer Schleuning was announced as the 2023 Navy Shore Sailor of the Year, July 2.

A native of Warren, Illinois, Schleuning (pronounced like “shining,” but with an “L”) advanced to compete for the Navy Shore Sailor of the Year after winning the active-duty Sailor of the Year category at NAVSEA in April. Schleuning served as the quality assurance department’s leading petty officer and only military non-destructive testing inspector at NAVSEA’s Southeast Regional Maintenance Center (SERMC) in Mayport, Florida.  Schleuning’s efforts directly contributed to the increased material condition readiness for 20 Mayport-based and visiting ships, and as the only military non-destructive testing inspector, her leadership was instrumental in her role as a mentor for junior sailors.

“At NAVSEA, Sailors have some of the most challenging and important jobs in the Navy. This recognition exemplifies the opportunity Schleuning seized,” said Vice Adm. Jim Downey, commander, Naval Sea Systems Command. “Schleuning has shown personal dedication, and professionalism throughout her career and I’m proud of the standard of excellence she’s setting for all of those across our Navy.”

The Sailor of the Year program was established by former Chief of Naval Operations Elmo Zumwalt and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy John Whittlet in 1972 to recognize Sailors from the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets who exemplify the Navy's professionalism and personal dedication. The program expanded to recognize one outstanding Sailor from all shore locations across the Navy in 1973 and introduced the Navy Enlisted Reservist of the Year award in 1982.

“I am so honored and proud to achieve the recognition of Navy Shore Sailor of the Year. ‘Sailors first, mission always’ is what I like to say, from my ship hull maintenance work and inspections to mentoring Sailors on the deck plates, I take pride in helping our Navy keep more players on the field,” said Schleuning. “Our motto at SERMC is ‘Keeping the Fleet Fit to Fight,’ and I am honored to be a part of the Navy warfighting team making all of this happen. Coming from a small-town family in Illinois, it’s amazing to be recognized in this way and show others that if this small-town girl can do it, you can too! The sky is the limit, keep moving forward!” 

Schleuning enlisted in the Navy in July 2007 as a 26 year-old mother and wife. At sea, she served aboard the USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77), USS Frank Cable (AS 40) and USS The Sullivans (DDG 68). She became a highly sought after hull maintenance technician supporting repairs on submarines and surface ships, enabling them to carry out missions vital to national security. Ashore, Schleuning excelled as a recruiter for Navy Recruiting District Chicago and established career retention teams at SERMC designed to encourage sailors to continue serving.

“As chief petty officers, we don’t get here by ourselves. We owe it to our Command, shipmates, our communities, the great teams that surround us, to succeed beyond expectation,” said NAVSEA Command Master Chief Blake Schimmel. “Great people need great leaders to become a great team, and Schleuning is a proven leader. She’s off to do impressive things for our Navy and our country.” 

Schleuning currently serves aboard the future USS Nantucket (LCS 27). She will officially be recognized as the Navy Shore Sailor of the Year this summer at a ceremony on the USS Constitution.