NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Jan. 22, 2019) (NNS) -- Upon checking into basic training, Sailors begin to learn valuable skills that they will apply throughout their naval careers. One of the first, and arguably the most important of these skills, is to stand a proper watch.
Watch standers are the first line of defense, and they are responsible for the security of their ship and the safety of its Sailors.
“Watch standing is important because we are the entry control point of the ship,” said Senior Chief Information Systems Technician Jullian Wimbush, the combat systems I-branch leading chief petty officer aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). “The safety of the ship and the personnel starts with us, so it’s important that we are diligent in what we do. We take care of our ship and our Sailors, and make sure that this is a safe working environment.”
Being in the shipyard presents unique challenges for George Washington’s crew. As the mission has shifted to returning the ship to the fleet, the responsibilities of watch standers have altered as well.
“We are still doing important work here,” said Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Victoria Hurlbut, a Sailor assigned to the CS-8 division of George Washington’s combat systems department. “Even though it may be different than what an operational ship is doing, we still need to keep our security tight because there can be a lot of confusion with all of the construction that’s going on. We have to make sure that no one is coming on board and tampering with our equipment or taking anything that they shouldn’t while we’re working toward making the ship operational again.”
Another challenge is the increased volume of individuals traversing throughout the ship and the shipyard. Refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) is a massive project that requires synchronization from Sailors, civilian contractors, and department of defense employees.
“Standing a proper watch while in the shipyard is vital because safety is paramount,” said Wimbush. “We don’t know every single individual who is coming aboard our ship. These contractors and government workers are visitors to our command, and we’re entrusting them to do a job and entrusting them with our Sailors. We need to create a presence that shows that we care about our personnel, and that we a care about our ship. They need to understand that when they come to our command that this is serious business, and we are going to take care of them and take care of ourselves.”
The time spent in RCOH may be a major shift from what seasoned Sailors are used to, and for new Sailors it may be far from what they were expecting. The current mission of returning George Washington to an operational status is an essential one, so it is important for Sailors to not become complacent with their duties, especially watch standing.
“This ship is going to go out to sea again, and it is going to be a functioning vessel at some point in the future,” said Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Cassidy Belcher, George Washington’s deck department paint team supervisor. “Even though you and I may not be here, the Sailors who replace us will be here, and they will need to care and take this stuff seriously. Right now, if we make a mistake on the [1 Main Circuit] it can be taken as a learning point, but out to sea, it is way more serious. Things like actual casualties and man overboard actually happen, so we need to be trained properly and prepared for the real thing when that time comes.”
Maintaining the capability to address any possible occurrence during a watch means that Sailors must be prepared and ready to act at a moment’s notice. Sustaining apt watch standing standards is essential for safety and security purposes, which in turn contributes to George Washington’s success. Sailors have the capability to do their part in defending their ship, and this defense begins with manning the watch. Sailors can stand assured that operations will proceed smoothly knowing that their shipmates have the watch.
For more news from USS George Washington (CVN 73), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.