NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) are taking a renewed focus on family readiness this January as the ship prepares to make a major transition back to operational status after redelivery to the fleet in 2009.
The aircraft carrier has spent the last 40 months undergoing refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va. With the ship's first sea trials only months away, many crew members said they realize that now is the time to ensure their family members are prepared for when Carl Vinson increases its operational tempo and Sailors
start spending more days underway and away from home.
"Now that we're getting closer to leaving the shipyard and going back out to sea, I'm making preparations by reviewing my family care plan for accuracy and making back-up arrangements just in case something unexpected happens," said Machinist's Mate 2nd Class (SW) Henry Rome. "Planning ahead puts my mind at ease and lets me really focus on our mission."
Like other large seagoing commands, USS Carl Vinson maintains an active support team to assist crew members with family readiness issues. Named after the people they serve, Carl Vinson's Family Readiness Group and command ombudsman play a pivotal role in assisting and preparing Carl Vinson Sailors and their families for the challenges that can potentially arise when a service member is deployed.
"The sacrifices that we ask of our Sailors are felt throughout the entire family," said Capt. Stephen Koehler, executive officer of USS Carl Vinson. "With engagement and outreach from our ombudsman, family readiness group and all of the local and national family programs, we can minimize the disruption of the families at home allowing for the highest level of mission readiness from our Sailors at sea."
Family readiness support has also become a major focal point for the ship's deckplate leadership. Command Master Chief (CMDCM) Glenn Mallo said the key to solving many family readiness issues revolves around leaders taking the time to get to know their people. Mallo said the division officer, division chief and leading petty officer leadership triad can be a first line of support in preparing Sailors for the complexities that sometimes come with balancing a family life with the demands of sea duty.
"Readiness on the deckplate means more focused Sailors achieving mission success on the frontlines," said Mallo. "We all have a role to play in ensuring our Sailors and their families are ready."
That leadership role, according to Mallo, often means educating Sailors on the tools and resources available to assist their families.
"Deployed or not, the level of preparedness of Sailors and their families can be enhanced by knowing how to utilize all of the Navy family support programs that are available," said Mallo.
With this knowledge in hand, Koehler said Sailors will be more focused on the command mission and will perform better when they're deployed away from their families for extended periods of time.
"For Sailors to function at their peak operationally, they have to be able to intensely focus, and that is hindered when even routine problems at home aren't getting resolved," said Koehler. "Through our family readiness initiatives we ensure those problems remain small and are handled at the soonest opportunity allowing for the complete mission focus of our whole team."
For more news from USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn70/.