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Around The Fleet

Taking the Plunge

GHWB Sailors take a dip in the Mediterranean

Clear, sunny, blue skies and equally blue seawater set the stage for Sailors aboard aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) to take the plunge from an aircraft elevator during an all-hands swim call.

More than 2,000 Sailors participated in taking a morale-boosting dip into the Mediterranean Sea, and for many Sailors, it was a unique experience that stood out during the deployment.

"It was definitely an exhilarating experience," said Machinist's Mate (Nuclear) 3rd Class Angela Henderson. "This was my first swim call and it was one of those things I can check off of my deployment bucket list."

With a call on the 1MC announcing their departure, Rear Adm. Kenneth Whitesell, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 2, and Capt. Will Pennington, GHWB's commanding officer were among the first to jump in water.

"The temperature in the water is perfect," said Pennington. "If you were worried about the water being a bit chilly, I can assure you that it is just perfect."

For several hours, Sailors took turns jumping from the edge of the ship and splashing down 30 feet below into the deep blue water, all under the watchful eyes of rescue swimmers and security personnel to ensure a safe, positive environment.

"We wanted to make sure everyone has fun, but also make sure they stay safe," said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Emnoel Agas, safety department's leading petty officer. "A combination of staff, which includes safety, medical, security, search and rescue, and weapons were on hand to make sure everyone took the plunge, surfaced and swam back to safety."
Take the plunge image collage

Rescue swimmers kept watch for fatigued Sailors and to guide them to the fantail of the ship to climb back aboard. Shark watches were also around to ensure Sailors were safe from any marine life that may have been nearby.

"Swimming in the ocean is totally different than swimming in a pool," said Agas. "Fatigue can happen, especially if a Sailor is not used to swimming in strong currents or if the waves are a little choppy."

For Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 3rd Class Garrison Shindelbower, the swim call was one of the top things to do on the deployment and is a highlight of his career.

"I love the ocean, so taking the jump and swimming was such a thrill to me," said Shindelbower. "It's one of those moments that I'll look back on in a few years."

For GHWB's chain of command, the swim call signifies another way to boost ship's morale, and as a way to thank Sailors for their hard work during the deployment.