USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH, At Sea (NNS) -- The USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) namesake -- former President George H.W. Bush -- and the ship's sponsor visited the Navy's newest aircraft carrier May 26-27 to observe flight operations during the ship's underway period in the Atlantic Ocean.
"It is the greatest honor of my life to be the [ship's] sponsor, so thank you for letting me have that opportunity," said Doro Bush Koch, the former president's daughter and ship's sponsor.
"This is the greatest ship in our Navy and I am proud to be associated with it."
This was the first time President Bush has embarked the ship that bears his name while underway. The carrier is completing flight deck certification off the coast of Virginia which included the first aircraft to be catapulted from the ship's flight deck and the first arrested landing aboard.
"It is a great thrill for Doro and me to be out here on this beautiful day at sea. I'm so impressed, not just with the machinery or with the pilots, but with the men and women of this crew," said President Bush or "41" as the crew affectionately refers to the 41st president of the United States.
"It's just wonderful seeing the spirit on this ship. We are grateful for your service to our great country."
In addition to observing catapult launches and arrested landings on the flight deck, the former president - a decorated World War II naval aviator - and his daughter met with the Sailors on board.
"I was so happy I got to shake his hand, I've always wanted to do that," said Seaman Derrick Chaves. "It makes me feel special because no other ships get to have their namesake on board. It brought my morale up."
The aircraft carrier was commissioned Jan. 10.
For more news from USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn77/.