NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Sailors competed in a four-day sports competition against Sailors from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 73), USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) and the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08). Competing commands squared off in softball and soccer tournaments, and a crossfit competition.
Like Ford, HMS Queen Elizabeth is the newest and a first-in-class carrier for the Royal Navy and is wrapping up her maiden voyage. Norfolk is the second stop on a tour the Royal Navy has labeled “WESTLANT 18,” in which Queen Elizabeth has been undergoing developmental trials. While in port, a bit of friendly competition was brought up between the Fit and Fun Bosses in the Norfolk area.
“Showing our competitive skill, while participating with good sportsmanship at the same time, represents the U.S. Navy as the competitive, fair and strong organization that it is,” said Stephen Prince, Ford’s Fit boss. “Building a reputation for being a good host port will have other ships from other nations excited when they visit.”
Prince said the idea was initiated as a way to build morale, comradery and pride for Sailors throughout the fleet via healthy competition and having a carrier from another country added a level of excitement.
“It’s brilliant,” said Petty Officer Matt Bonner, a Sailor assigned to Queen Elizabeth. “For the last four months, we’ve been operating with U.S. aircraft in the U.S. Navy, so it’s brilliant to take out the battle atmosphere and the training atmosphere, and bring it out onto the soccer field.”
Bonner also expressed how all the ships coming together for a week to play sports was a good experience for him and his fellow shipmates.
“It’s good meeting people from different atmospheres and different influences, and engraining it all together,” said Bonner. “It’s good just to get out and away from the ship, and interact with our American cousins on the soccer field.”
Although Ford lost the soccer match against Queen Elizabeth, the point of the game still came across loud and clear for Ford.
“It didn’t go the way I hoped, but I liked the competitive edge our team had and it allowed for international cohesion in a friendly way,” said Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 2nd Class Matthew Micone. “Everyone likes to come out to have fun, and soccer is popular in Europe, so we wanted to show we could play with them as well.”
Interacting with and hosting ships from other countries provides a way to represent how Sailors from the U.S. Navy are on and off the ship.
“Being competitive in team sports is good for learning accountability, dedication and leadership, among many other traits relevant to the line of work our Sailors are in,” said Prince. “Putting it all together having fun and competing in a sport is a winning combination. It allows us to come together as a community and as the allies we are.”
Gerald R. Ford is a first-in-class aircraft carrier and the first new aircraft carrier designed in more than 40 years. Ford is currently undergoing its post-shakedown availability at Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding.
For more news from USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn78/.