Source: United States Navy
From USS Gerald R. Ford Public Affairs
NEWPORT NEWS, Virginia (NNS) — The Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), completed a five-day pierside fast cruise evolution Oct. 23, ahead of departing Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding (HII-NNS) later this month.
The fast cruise was a culminating training evolution designed to bring Ford to life after her 15-month post-shakedown availability (PSA). Sailors across the ship were thrust into various scenarios that tested their response to challenging and stressful environments.
Though the PSA focused on making material improvements to the ship, the crew consistently trained and honed their skills in an effort to maintain overall readiness. The Sailors simulated brief at-sea periods to ensure they stayed relevant on basic seamanship, damage control, navigation and life-saving.
“The fast cruise was an opportunity for the crew to put into action the lessons they’ve learned over the past 15 months,” said Lt. Cmdr. Nick Devorak, Ford’s training officer. “While in Newport News, the crew has been regularly conducting General Quarters drills, man overboard evolutions and the like. The last five days allowed the team a dedicated period to put their knowledge and skills to the test in a simulated at-sea environment.
“Evolutions like the fast cruise are critical because it gets Sailors in the right mindset before taking a warship to sea,” Devorak explained.
While training was the focus of the fast cruise, the evolution also represented an opportunity for the crew to effect a change in mindset, one from that of being in the shipyard to becoming operational and ready to perform at sea.
“Here on Warship 78, we call this being ‘Warship Ready,’” said Capt. J.J. Cummings, Ford’s commanding officer. “Warship Ready means our time in the shipyard is over and we now look forward to post-delivery testing and trials. We will now focus on taking our ship to sea, becoming operationally ready and training to use the most technologically advanced systems in the Navy.”
For Cummings, being ‘Warship Ready’ means going beyond readiness. It also means being resilient and having resolve. The fast cruise offered an opportunity for Ford Sailors to bolster both.
“Having our Sailors sequestered in at-sea environment – living, eating and sleeping on the ship, allowed them to get a real glimpse of life at sea,” he explained. “There should now be no surprises; our Sailors will fully know what is expected of them as we prepare to take our mighty warship to sea.”
For Sailors such as Airman Adrian Guardo, from Lancaster, California, assigned to Ford’s Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department, is looking forward to returning the warship to sea.
“I have trained my whole career for this moment, I joined the Navy to get out to sea and I’m glad we are doing it,” said Guardo.
Ford now prepares to depart HII-NNS and begin sea trials where the crew will have an opportunity to apply what they’ve learned at sea. Sea trials will be the underway culminating event of the PSA. It is an opportunity for the Navy to more fully evaluate whether the work performed during PSA was completed satisfactorily, and whether any unexpected issues remain to be addressed.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our Sailors,” Cummings said. “They met the challenges of the PSA head on and knocked it out of the park. But it’s time to ditch our hardhats and set our sights on getting back to sea.”