NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the deck department aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and shipyard workers from Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) reattached George Washington’s anchor chain, May 22, marking the latest milestone during her refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) yard period.
Since the removal of George Washington’s anchor chains in October 2017, deck department Sailors have been working around the clock performing maintenance on their equipment to prepare the ship for the reattachment. Accomplishing this task required deck department Sailors to work alongside their shipyard counterparts and stay in constant communication to make sure everything on both sides was on track.
“To prepare for the reinstallation of the anchor and chains, we had to make sure all our gear was here,” said Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Cassidy Belcher, the desk supervisor for deck department aboard George Washington. “We had to make sure everything is operational, and some of our equipment isn’t currently operational, and can’t be fixed, so it’s been a struggle since we started, but it’s a great feeling being a boatswain’s mate and actually doing boatswain’s mate work.”
Sailors and shipyard workers attached a line to the anchor chain and pulled it up using the ship’s capstan, a verticle-axled rotating machine used on ships to multiply the pulling force of the Sailors pulling rope. When the bitter end of the chain, or the attaching link, reached the forecastle, it was hoisted around the wildcat, the portion of the anchor windlass that grabs the anchor chain, and led into the chain locker, a space at the forward part of the ship that contains the anchor chain when the anchor is secured for sea, where it was attached to the wall of the ship.
For many of the Sailors in deck department, this was the first time they were doing the jobs they’ve trained to do as boatswain’s mate. During RCOH, Sailors across the ship are often tasked with responsibilities that take them away from what they would normally be doing if the ship were operational.
“It’s awesome to see my guys come into work every day that we have been doing this and actually be motivated about the work they are doing,” said Belcher. “For some of my Sailors, this is their first time actually getting to be a boatswain’s mate and do the things that they were trained to do.”
Along with raising the morale of Sailors assigned to the deck department, bringing the anchor chain back aboard the ship also significantly helped deck department Sailors with the qualifications they will need when the ship gets back out into the fleet.
“As a department, we were hurting for our in-rate qualifications that actually require hands-on training, most of which isn’t possible to get here in the shipyards,” said Senior Chief Boatswain’s Mate Yucarlton Felton, the deck department leading chief petty officer aboard George Washington. “This evolution helped us get more Sailors qualified as phone talkers, riggers, line handlers and all the necessary watch stations that need to be manned.”
George Washington has many milestones to hit during her RCOH. Reattaching her anchor chain gets her one step closer to the goal of completing the overhaul and getting back out into the fleet.
For more news from USS George Washington (CVN 73), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.