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Lt. Ben Pederson, navigator on board USS Patriot (MCM 7) poses for a photo while underway in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. 

SASEBO, Japan

Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CNSP) announced Lt. Benjamin Pedersen, as the CNSP Junior Officer Ship Handler (JOSH) of the Year.

Pedersen is currently serving as the navigator on board USS Patriot (MCM 7), forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan.

“I am excited to have been selected for this award and to represent the Patriot. Our ship is like one big family so it means a lot for them to share this achievement with me,” said Pedersen.

Pedersen grew up in Johnsburg, Illinois, and always wanted to join the Navy. He graduated with honors from the University of Missouri with a degree in nutrition and exercise physiology, and commissioned in 2016 where he started his journey through the surface warfare officer pipeline.

“Pedersen is not only an excellent navigator, he has been a great officer and mentor to both his peers and Sailors,” said Lt. Cmdr. Earvin Taylor, commanding officer of Patriot. “It has been great to see him grow as a surface warfare officer and a leader while on board Patriot.”

Throughout the competition, Pedersen displayed a superlative mastery of his craft while retaining his usual calm demeanor. Additionally, he was the only officer in the top five participants to receive a perfect score on his international maritime rules of the road exam.

Pedersen shares his accolades with his peers and his training over the past four years.

“Without my fellow officers and leadership over the past few years I wouldn’t have been challenged and given the opportunities to perform under pressure and being on a minesweeper you get a lot of bridge time,” said Pedersen. “Ship handling is bigger than just one officer. It’s the entirety of the crew that makes the ship run smoothly from foc’sle to stern.”

Pedersen will go on to Newport, Rhode Island to represent Surface Forces Pacific to compete against the Naval Forces Atlantic JOSH of the year, for the final round at the Surface Warfare Schools Command.

“The significant efforts made by U.S. Naval Surface Forces to develop and emphasize maritime skills has had an incredibly positive secondary effect of making these events fiercely competitive.” said Rear Adm. Chris Engdahl, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 7. “Minesweep junior officers, especially those assigned to forward-deployed naval forces, are historically incredible ship handlers due to the amount of valuable bridge time and watch team leadership they get while being forward-deployed. I am rooting for Lt. Pedersen as he moves on to the final round.”

Both competitors will be evaluated on ship handling and leadership skills. A rules of the road exam may come into play to decide the winner in the case of a tie.

Patriot is forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan and assigned to Commander, Mine Countermeasures Squadron (COMCMRON) 7. COMCMRON 7 conducts integrated mine countermeasure operations using air, Surface, and explosive ordnance disposal assets in both exercise and regional conflict scenarios throughout the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

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