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Around The Fleet

Training for Sea While Ashore

Simulator keeps Bush Sailors proficient during yard period

While USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) (GHWB) carries on with its Planned Incremental Availability (PIA) period in Norfolk Naval Shipyard, one of the many adjustments the ship's crew continues to overcome is a sudden lack of practical, hands-on training for the navigation team aboard the now stationary ship.

Without the ability to train at sea, the Norfolk Navigation Seamanship Ship-Handling (NSS) facility on Naval Station Norfolk provides the ship's navigation team an opportunity to hone its skills during PIA.

NSS provides simulator training for every class of ship in the U.S. Navy from patrol boats to aircraft carriers. GHWB's navigation team visits NSS twice a month to participate in different training evolutions as a way to stay prepared while in the shipyard.

The bridge simulator exercise is in place as synthetic training while we're in the yards since we obviously are not able to operate the equipment during the availability period."
-Cmdr. Marc Christino

The simulation facilities present a realistic underway environment for the navigation team as they practice a variety of evolutions such as underway replenishments, towing, anchoring, certifications and team training during the 60 hours designated for each ship for the yearly training cycle.

"It keeps us proficient and allows us to train new folks that have come on board," said Cristino.
Photo collage of Sailor using a training simulator.

Photo collage of Sailors assigned to USS George H.W. Bush's (CVN 77) navigation team, looks at a screen on the voyage management system at the Navigation Seamanship and Shiphandling Trainer's simulator on Naval Station Norfolk.

Each simulator room contains space and equipment nearly identical to the bridges on each different class of ship with multiple screens projecting an at-sea environment in order to get the full navigation team involved during the evolutions.

"It's like a mini bridge," said Quartermaster 2nd Class Courtney Hill, the Voyage Management System plotter. "It has motion picture so it really looks like we're getting underway."

Every position in the navigation team works together in the simulator from the junior officer of the deck to the conning officer directing the boatswain's mates who steer the ship.

It's pretty much just what we do every day going out to sea. You're standing a normal underway watch."
-QM2 Courtney Hill

Instructors at NSS monitor each team's performance on computer screens outside the bridge simulator, keeping a watch on not just the ship's direction and positions during each evolution but the interaction between the Sailors on the navigation team as well. They then discuss their findings with the team during debriefs after completing the evolutions.

"What you can do in a simulator and classroom is you can stop, examine and correct, then go back again," said Elliot Seatherton, an NSS trainer. "From the feedback that we get from some ships, they appreciate the experiences they learn here and what the instructors can provide from our experiences when we were at sea."

Seatherton's four years as an instructor at NSS follow more than 37 years of experience as a warfare officer in the British Royal Navy, where he was the commander of a minesweeper, a frigate as well as an aircraft carrier.

As GHWB approaches the conclusion of its availability, the ship's navigation team will continue to keep their skills sharp at NSS while awaiting the opportunity to successfully guide the ship back out to sea.
Graphic of Sailor shooting a fake gun at gun shoot.

Navy graphic of Navy gun simulation training.