Applause rumbled to life at the San Diego Convention Center and heads turned as one woman rose and approached the stage, wading through a patchwork of white, khaki and blue military uniforms.
With all 1,200 attendees of the 2018 Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium watching, Elizabeth Haworth climbed the stairs to accept the Master Chief Petty Officer Pearl Faurie Leadership Award, a distinction that had taken her by complete surprise only a couple weeks prior.
“To be honest, I didn’t know I was even put in for it,” said Haworth, a machinery technician aboard Coast Guard Cutter Northland. “I’m not the type to do things and look for recognition.”
The crowd continued to recognize the Coast Guardsman with claps and cheers as she shook presenter Rear Adm. William Kelly’s hand, grasped her plaque and smiled into cameras’ flashing strobes.
“I wasn’t nervous, really,” said Haworth. “I just like to take in all around me and appreciate what I have.”
Haworth’s shipmates aboard Cutter Northland said it is largely her humble, giving attitude that earned her the award, which is annually bestowed on one enlisted Coast Guard female who demonstrates exceptional leadership on and off the job.
“MK2 Haworth leads from the front,” said Ensign Caleb Tvrdy, head of the cutter’s auxiliary division and Haworth’s supervisor. “She delegates well to the division and honestly runs the daily operations.”
Daily operations for Haworth and her six-person team include monitoring, maintaining and repairing the chill water system, fueling systems, emergency diesel generator, and other vital shipboard auxiliary systems. At times, the workload aboard the 34-year-old cutter transcends routine maintenance and demands more from Haworth and her crew.
“Engineering as a whole has our work cut out for us since these boats are so old,” said Tvrdy. “Machinery is constantly breaking down and we work long hours to keep the ship operational.”
“We need to know a lot about many different pieces of equipment,” Haworth agreed. “Being on different platforms and units, I try to absorb as much information as possible to better help the Coast Guard and my future units.”
Haworth said she acquired hands-on skills and sensibilities from her mother, who taught her how to lay tile, install drywall, replace dishwashers and make other household repairs. The Savannah, Georgia, native put her versatile skillset to good use on a larger scale during the Northland’s Eastern Pacific patrol in 2017.
While inspecting the reverse osmosis plant, she noticed water intruding into the high-pressure water pump’s oil, which immediately rendered the cutter unsafe to sail. While this type of casualty is typically contracted out for repair, Haworth rebuilt the pump and replaced all the water seals herself, saving the Coast Guard $5,000 and allowing the Northland to remain fully functional.
“I love getting dirty and repairing equipment,” said Haworth. “Knowing that I had a part in getting a vital piece of equipment up and running is amazing and rewarding.”
Streamlining her team’s workflow and optimizing their efforts is another of Haworth’s ongoing goals. She learned and adopted a new task-tracking tool which enabled the auxiliary division to surpass maintenance completion levels of 90 percent, then helped the rest of the cutter’s divisions implement the tracking tool, too.