NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- Crew members aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) are starting to see the benefits of the command's robust sponsor and indoctrination program this March, as the specially designed Sailor welcome program nears the end of its first year aboard the aircraft carrier.
Carl Vinson's enhanced command indoctrination initiative began in May 2007, in an effort to ensure newly arriving crew members acclimate well to their new surroundings and are better prepared for life aboard ship.
"The way we're conducting the sponsor and indoctrination process is what sets our program apart from others," said Senior Chief Culinary Specialist (AW/SW) Gepp Brucelas. "Our program follows and augments the Chief of Naval Operations' policy for the seamless assimilation of all new check-ins."
A newly reporting crew member, Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airman Apprentice Samantha Gerken, said her indoctrination experience has really helped her prepare for her first tour in the Navy, and said she will report to the Air Department better prepared for the challenges ahead.
"I'm just checking on board from 'A' School," said Gerken. "When I got here, I was so nervous; I didn't know what to expect from the fleet. Everybody in Indoc division has made me feel at home and comfortable, and I'm learning the ropes now."
Part of the success with the Carl Vinson indoctrination effort comes from the command's approach. The ship sends its most capable and respected first class petty officers to staff the indoctrination division. These Sailors are the first people newly reporting crew members see when they report aboard Carl Vinson.
"For our division, we accept some the finest EP (early promote) or highest MP (must promote) Sailors as permanent sponsors; nothing less," said Brucelas. "We are pioneers; we don't just assign random departmental sponsors to people checking-in anymore. These petty officers are mentors for our young Sailors from the day they check into the command."
As part of the mentorship process, Sailors are brought up to speed on basic shipboard skills and qualifications that will enable them to be productive members of the crew.
"We give them everything they need, all in one shot," said Aviation Structural Mechanic 1st Class (AW/SW) Christopher Dean, Carl Vinson 2007 Sailor of the Year and indoctrination division leading petty officer. "They get damage control qualifications up to 306, shipboard maintenance training, and CPR quals. They also conduct Navy Knowledge Online courses, we establish individual training plans for them, set up career development boards, and perform physical training three times a week."
For Dean and other members of Carl Vinson's indoctrination team, the time they spend with each newly reporting Sailor is an investment in not only the future of the ship, but for the entire Navy.
"Our goal is to instill Navy and Carl Vinson values to our crew members from day one," said Dean. "We're here to make sure our Sailors are set up for success in their tours on board and also throughout their Navy careers. This is where they get their start."
For more news from USS Carl Vinson, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn70/.