NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- More than 2,000 PCU Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Sailors participated in the ship's first fast cruise exercise, May 3-5, in Newport News, Virginia.
A fast cruise is a simulated underway, designed to prepare the crew for life at sea and get them in an operational mindset. The exercise is geared toward preparing Sailors for future deployments.
"This exercise is a good starting point for them to understand the rhythm of an underway ship," said Command Master Chief Donnie Novak. "When leadership speaks about being underway or pulling into port, the scenario becomes more real to the junior Sailors, many of whom have never been underway. Now that they've had a taste, it builds confidence, builds camaraderie, and makes them rely more on themselves and their shipmates."
General quarters, man overboard, and abandon ship drills were all-hands evolutions that tested the proficiency of the entire crew, while major departments such as Engineering, Deck, Air, and Navigation used the opportunity to stand up full watch teams, simulate air transfer requests and set material conditions.
"Being on here allows us to operate without distraction," said Chief Boatswain's Mate Brian Epling. "It may be a sacrifice for a couple days but the training is extremely valuable."
Supply Department achieved a major milestone during this fast cruise, serving 1,850 lunches during the first full underway day. The Engineering Department was also commended during a general quarters exercise, in which they responded to many accident causalities and electrical fire simulations. Material Condition Yoke was also set on the ship's firemain for the first time.
"This is the most realistic fast cruise I have ever been on," Novak said. "It is a building block to the next fast cruise, with the end result of our crew being prepared for whatever our ship's mission may be. I couldn't be more proud of the crew."
"Fast cruise brings us all together to work as a team and learn the equipment," said Machinist's Mate 1st Class Brian Woolf. "I think this will set us up for success."
For more news from Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), visit http://www.navy.mil/local/cvn78/.