NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- Whether preventing crime or carrying out anti-terrorism measures, the Sailors responsible for security and law enforcement are trained to deal with any situation. These Sailors are called master-at-arms, and they are the military police for the Navy.
Master-at-arms assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) are in a unique situation while the ship undergoes refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) at Newport News Shipyard.
Master-at-arms serve the Navy in a variety of roles all over the world. They can work on shore bases in the United States and overseas, aboard ships, or as part of a maritime security squadron. George Washington’s master-at-arms have a mission to accomplish in all phases of the ship’s lifecycle, whether underway, in port, or in RCOH.
“Security’s mission here is to provide a safe and secure environment for shipboard personnel to operate, and to enforce good order and discipline,” said Senior Chief Master-at-Arms John Nitti, the operations leading chief petty officer for security department. “We support naval aviation by ensuring they can operate without any security concerns.”
Sailors in the security department are doing their due diligence to prepare for any security threat.
“In general, you have your basic threats that we train for all the time,” said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Susan Olander, the leading petty officer for security department. “We have Navy security exercise plans, which is a Navy Security Operations Exercise Program (NSOXP) that we train to. We have preplanned responses that we plan for any emergency or security alert that we can possibly think of.”
NSOXP contains 16 anti-terrorism scenarios designed to provide ashore and afloat commanders with anti-terrorism assessment tools designed to evaluate watch standers and small unit leaders. This enables watch standers and those who evaluate them to reference a standard model for success, improving performance across the board.
The key to success for master-at-arms and Sailors assigned to the security department, then, is training. Extensive training ensures they are prepared to meet a variety of potential threats.
“I would say master-at-arms receive extensive training while in RCOH,” said Olander. “We train every day, twice a day; doesn’t matter what day of the week it is. We are constantly running drill packages for full drills twice a month, and our drills are very extensive. The schools that we send our Sailors to are very in-depth and good for their careers, as well as bringing that knowledge back here to the ship.”
Eventually, the rest of the Navy will be using the training initiative as a guide.
“This effort was labeled as a best practice during a recent [Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic] visit and will be pushed to the rest of the fleet as an example to follow,” said Nitti.
RCOH brings complexities to every department aboard George Washington and the master-at-arms in the security department are no different.
“RCOH brings a whole new set of challenges as far as keeping the ship safe while working with the civilians,” said Olander. “We have shipyard workers onboard our ship at all times, and we have to maintain that good contractor to military relationship to make sure everybody is safe, because as soon as they step onboard, they become our responsibility.”
Due in no small part to the efforts of master-at-arms and Sailors in George Washington’s security department, the crew is progressing every day to reach its goal of returning to the fleet as the Navy’s premier and always ready aircraft carrier.
For more news from USS George Washington (CVN 73), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.