San Jose Native Wins Surface Warfare Officer of the Year Competition

by Petty Officer 2nd Class Alex Millar
23 May 2019

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VIRIN: 201229-N-N0831-0003
SAN DIEGO - Vice Adm. Richard Brown, Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CNSP), announced the winner of the 2018 CNSP Surface Warfare Officer of the Year (SWOY), May 22.

The winner is Lt. James Ballingall, assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69).

CNSP made the announcement via Navy message.

“This year’s competition was extremely fierce,” Brown wrote in the message. “Each SWO nominated for the prestigious award should take great pride in being an example of the best our community has to offer. Bravo Zulu!”

CNSP instituted the award in 2009 to recognize the SWO who best personifies the ideals of excellence in warfighting and leadership, expertise in tactics, engineering, and weapons systems, and a commitment to mission accomplishment through superior professionalism and personal example. “Ballingall received the best scores on the rules-of-the-road exam and ship handling demonstration,” said Lt. Keri Pittman, SWOY action officer. “Overall, he proved to be the most well-rounded and knowledgeable SWO. He was the most comfortable at the simulator and had pronounced command presence.”

Sixteen officers from across the U.S. Pacific Fleet surface force were nominated for the award. Ballingall’s record rose above the rest after a thorough review of all submissions.

“The selection process was very humbling,” said Ballingall, of San Jose, California. “The talent resident in the SWO community today is at the high-water mark of my ten-year career.” He also credits his success to his wife and the hardworking Sailors of Milius. “I want to thank my wife, who supports me in every way,” said Ballingall. “I also want to thank all of my Sailors and the entire Milius crew.

"I am surrounded by eye-watering talent in my department and on my watch teams. In Milius, I'm blessed with the opportunity to work with the most motivated, proficient, innovative, and lethal watch teams in the Navy.”Milius’s Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Jennifer Pontius was very confident in her nomination for Ballingall. “He is a role model for other junior officers to emulate and his contributions to my warfighting and operational readiness have been invaluable,” said Pontius. For more information, visit,, or                                
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