The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) frocked 109 Sailors to the next paygrade during a ceremony in the ship’s hangar bay, June 1, 2018.

Iwo Jima promoted 50 Sailors to petty officer third class, 49 to petty officer second class and 10 to petty officer first class.

Frocking ceremonies allow Sailors to assume the title and wear the uniform of the next paygrade before increased pay or other allowances occur.

The new rank appointment carries with it the obligation that each frocked Sailor exercise increased authority and accept greater responsibility.

“There is a lot of responsibility to progress from a seaman to a second class in my shop,” said newly-frocked Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Rheava Lumbang. “I am ready to meet these challenges and I am expected to by my leadership.”

Iwo Jima is Lumbang’s first command and she has been onboard for three years. Only twenty-five percent of eligible logistics specialists advanced to petty officer 2nd class Navy-wide.

“I printed my bibliographies, studied the material and took practice tests until I made a decent percentage,” said Lumbang. “I need to meet the standards of my peers and those set for myself.”

Some Sailors were undesignated and struck a rate. Aviation Electronic’s Technician 3rd Class Tine Akakpo was undesignated for two and a half years before striking a rate.

“I’ve come a long way and finally made it,” said Akakpo. “I’ve been fighting for this and I want to get something done in the Navy.”

Through his perseverance and dedication, Akakpo encourages his fellow shipmates.

“Don’t give up, be hopeful, and you can make it,” said Akakpo.

Capt. Joseph O’Brien, Iwo Jima’s commanding officer, remarked on the advancement of the promoted Sailors.

“I’d like to congratulate all those who recently advanced throughout the petty officer ranks,” said Capt. O’Brien. “This is an outstanding accomplishment and will be one of the things you look back on whether you stay in for four years or retire from the Navy. Wear the rank proudly and act in the manner of the rank you are about to receive.”

Iwo Jima is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners, and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.

The Iwo Jima ARG embarks the 26th MEU and is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), New York (LPD-21), the dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 8, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 22, components of Naval Beach Group (NBG) 2 and the embarked staff of PHIBRON 4.