Twenty-four Sailors assigned to aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) returned home July 7, following their six-month deployment aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).
Lincoln is currently months away from completing a refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) at Newport News Shipbuilding.
The Sailors bring back a wealth of new experience and qualifications and hope to bolster the ship’s crew and help fulfill its mission to redeliver a modernized warship manned with trained warriors to the fleet.
Lincoln Sailors have deployed to various platforms to gain experience to help the ship, which is currently in Newport News Shipyard.
“This is not only helping Air Department tremendously, but also USS Abraham Lincoln,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) 1st Class Christopher Pustam, who greeted his shipmates upon their return. “It gives us the opportunity for us to be properly manned and ready to go when we come out of the yards.”
Pustam said his Sailors have gained invaluable knowledge that can be shared with the rest of the crew, especially junior Sailors who have yet to go out to sea.
“Most of the flight deck qualifications for our rate are qualifications that Sailors can’t get while in port — they have to be at sea,” said Pustam. “I think it was an awesome opportunity for them because it allowed them to get qualifications that we can’t offer.”
Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Samantha Duke, one of the Sailors who returned from deployment, agreed with Pustam that this was a great opportunity to gain experience.
“This was my first time on an operational ship,” said Duke. “This experience broadened my knowledge. Before I left for deployment, I had only been in the Navy and on the Lincoln for two months.”
Duke said she deployed without any shipboard qualifications and returned with dual enlisted warfare specialist qualifications.
“With these qualifications, I come back to our ship as an asset,” she said.
Duke added she plans to use her newfound skills and knowledge to teach other Lincoln Sailors.
“Our other Sailors will be leaning on these newly-qualified Sailors,” said Cmdr. Carlton McClain, assistant air officer aboard Lincoln. “They’ve seen how Stennis does it; now they have something to reference from. Even little things like their ‘sea stories’ will become a tool that they can use to teach other Sailors. Our junior Sailors in RCOH do not have that reference to pull from.”
Lincoln is the fifth ship of the Nimitz class to undergo an RCOH, a major life-cycle milestone. Once RCOH is complete, Lincoln will be one of the most modern and technologically advanced Nimitz-class aircraft carriers in the fleet and will continue to be a vital part of the nation’s defense.