NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – One of greatest strengths of the United States Navy has long been its diversity, where Sailors from different cultures, heritages and backgrounds serve side-by-side. That same diversity provides different approaches to the various challenges throughout the Navy, ensuring there’s “no one way” to solve an issue. The USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) is no different, and continues to showcase its ingenuity, perseverance and strength through the diversity of its crew. None embody this sentiment more than the Stennis’ Chief of Engineering, Capitan select Upendra Ramdat.
Born in Guyana in 1975, a once British territory located at the northern edge of South America, Ramdat would move to the Caribbean island of Barbados at the age of four with his mother and step-father. He would finish high school in the Caribbean before making yet another move to New York City as a teen.
At the age of 17, Ramdat decided to follow his passion for aviation, a strong affinity for aircraft inspired by his step father, and enlist in the Navy as an aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling).
“I wanted to be a pilot. My stepdad was a commercial pilot, so I’ve been fascinated with airplanes my whole life,” said Ramdat.
While Ramdat did not have any family members who had served, he believed that the values he grew up with in Barbados such as openness, honesty, and a family-oriented mindset would aid his transition into the Navy.
“The island valued education, church, discipline and had a very low crime rate with a very high education rate,” said Ramdat. “Those things contributed to me getting through boot camp, doing well as an enlisted sailor and then applying myself in college to become an officer.”
After arriving at his first ship, Ramdat began to admire the tenacity and strong leadership qualities of the officers onboard. After making E-5 in three years, he decided he wanted to follow in their footsteps.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and commissioned through San Diego State’s Naval ROTC program. Ramdat then began his new career as a Surface Warfare Officer on the guided missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59). Despite his dream of becoming a pilot, Ramdat was limited by his eyesight. However, he saw the Navy as a means to continue working with the aircraft he so admired.
Ramdat soon found himself constantly at sea, separated from his young family. The lifestyle was decidedly not fit for how Ramdat envisioned his future. Upon reflection, he would recall a time during his college days when the topic of lateral transfer was brought up. The position of chief engineer (CHENG) and its purpose to repair, strengthen, and modernize the Navy’s warfare capabilities caught his eye.
When Ramdat joined Stennis, he became the Stennis’ first CHENG of West-Indian descent.
“My community and family are incredibly proud” said Ramdat. “I’m honored to be a part of this great Navy family and serve alongside the best people I know.”
With the experiences and challenges faced as a young junior officer, paired with the lessons he had carried with him from his younger years in Barbados and as an enlisted Sailor, Ramdat feels well equipped as a leader. In passing on the wisdom he has gained, Ramdat emphasizes the principal he values most: people first.
“You have to treat everyone with dignity and respect.” Said Ramdat. “We all need to have that trust in each other. It’s one team, one fight and only together can we get anything done.”
Lieutenant James Watters, the Auxiliary Officer onboard Stennis and former CHENG on USS Gravely, spoke to Ramdat’s character.
“He makes sure to back up his Sailors. He inspires me to be more proactive in getting this ship to mission readiness,” said Watters.
After 31 years of service and becoming a Captain select, Ramdat has no regrets and continues to push himself. He believes that the formula for his success has been hard work, a positive mindset, and clear goal-setting.
“I’m honored and humbled to be serving in the Navy,” said Ramdat. “I have the opportunity to do what I love, and most importantly, do it all alongside my team.”
|NEWPORT NEWS, VA, US
This work, A LEADERS JOURNEY: STENNIS CHIEF ENGINEER RECOUNTS THE PATH THAT SHAPED HIM, by PO3 Julian Mata, identified by DVIDS, must comply with the restrictions shown on https://www.dvidshub.net/about/copyright.