The U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) served host to 78 future officers from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and Navy Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) units from colleges and universities across America, through three at-sea training phases, June 26 to Aug. 12.
Each phase of midshipmen training encompassed approximately two to three weeks aboard the ship, and introduced the participants to all aspects of work and shipboard life.
“There is a great deal of preparation that goes into planning the midshipmen training cruises because it is a command-wide evolution that involves every department,” said Lt. Nick Long, USS George Washington’s training officer. “Many departments are necessary for providing ‘running mates,’ correct berthing, wardrooms and messing so they are able to train, sleep and eat without having any issues.”
Each midshipman is assigned a “running mate” as they board the ship and begin their phase of training. Running mates are enlisted and commissioned leaders within their respective career field aboard the ship. The running mate’s primary responsibility is to ensure midshipmen get a good idea of what they can expect while working in the surface warfare officer (SWO) community.
“I want to be a SWO,” said Midshipman Morgan Witten, a Virginia Tech ROTC participant from Toms River, N.J. “There’s a good chance I’ll be in the navigation department. The ship’s assistant navigator is my running mate and has helped me determine the direction I’d like to go as an officer when I graduate.”
Each midshipman embarks on a training cruise with a certain set of expectations, and many find that their perspective has been changed since leaving the classroom for the operational Fleet.
“I think the big thing for me was to come to a carrier and see all of the different departments like engineering, deck, and others,” said U.S. Naval Academy Midshipman 1st Class Max Allen, from Chesterfield, Va. “We learn about these things at the Academy, through our different warfare classes, but being able to see them in action is really eye opening.”
It’s important to stay on schedule when executing summer cruise training. With more than 70 scheduled events to cover in less than three weeks, the midshipmen and ship’s crew have to stay on task in order to cover every aspect of training within the time allotted.
“One thing this phase [of training] was able to do, that the two previous groups were not, was to experience a port visit (Brisbane, Australia),” said Long. “It was nice, but kind of cut into their training time. If I had it to do again, I’d shorten the port visit portion so that they could maximize their underway time.”
Whether these midshipmen will graduate soon, or this was just the first of several training cruises, they are all able to take away valuable memories of their time aboard George Washington.
“It’s been interesting for me to see how organized everything has to be in order to move the jets and other equipment around the flight deck and hangar bays behind the scenes,” said Allen. “It’s also impressive to hear the communication that has to occur between the aircraft and the personnel manning primary flight control; understanding just how many people have to do their job correctly in order to get aircraft on and off the ship successfully every day.”
George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its partners and allies in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
Press Release, August 12, 2013