NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- Serving in buildings near a shipyard doesn't help strengthen a Sailor's "sea legs." The crew of the Precommissiong Unit (PCU) Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) is going to great lengths to make sure Sailors gain crucial at-sea experience by deploying aboard other ships in the fleet.
"PCUs historically send as many folks as possible on Temporary Additional Duty (TAD) aboard underway ships to maximize training opportunities and work on Personnel Qualification Standards (PQS)," explained Cmdr. Judith A. Lee.
Since the implementation of this program, more than 450 Sailors have embarked other ships. These 'adoptions' are a long-standing tradition set by previous precommissioning units.
"The Sailors are sent TAD to become familiar with shipboard life. Many of them are new to the Navy and are escorted by senior petty officers to show them the ins and outs of shipboard life," said Petty Officer 1st class (PN1) Anthony Jones.
To date, Ronald Reagan Sailors have trained on numerous ships including USS Bataan (LHD 5), USS Cape St. George (CG 71), USS Donald Cook (DDG 75), USS Elrod (FFG 55), USS George Washington (CVN 73), and U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Gallatin (WHEC 721). The length of training ranges from one week to more than six months.
For Sailors with no experience at sea, another advantage to going underway on an aircraft carrier is the opportunity to become familiar with the "floating city's" layout.
"I went underway with USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) for two weeks," said Petty Officer 1st Class (PN1) Archie Ray Scott, Jr. "This [training] allowed me to see a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier in action, as well as become familiar with the layout of the ship."
Along with experience, Sailors forge lasting friendships. "The interaction with the crew was outstanding. They all welcomed me into their home (aboard the ship) and showed me the ropes onboard an aircraft carrier," Scott added. "I made several life long friends onboard, (many of whom) I am in contact with right now as they sail around in the Middle East."
Deploying aboard ships is one example of how Ronald Reagan Sailors begin preparations long before they move aboard their own ship to guarantee their state-of-the-art aircraft carrier will be operated by some of the most experienced Sailors in the fleet.