NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) celebrated a day of firsts as the crew moved aboard Aug. 11.
"For the crew to be able to come aboard, eat aboard, hear 1MC (ship's intercom) announcements, present colors (hoist the American flag), muster in the hangar bay and accept their berthing assignments is a step that we're that much closer to being USS George H.W. Bush and it sends a message to the crew that we're moving forward," said Command Master Chief (AW/NAC) Jon Port.
The day began at 7:30 a.m. with the first watches set on the ship. Sailors also began observing the tradition of requesting permission to come aboard the ship.
"It's an honor to be part of history and be one of the first Sailors to cross the quarterdeck," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuels) Christopher Wu. "I'm excited to be getting closer to be able to do my job."
Shortly after manning the first watches, the first words were passed across the 1MC. Petty Officer of the Watch, Boatswain's Mate 1st Class (SW) Mostafa Rashed had the honor of making the first announcement on America's newest carrier, which is under construction in the Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipyard.
"'Muster the color guard on the quarterdeck with the officer of the deck,' was the message," said Rashed. "I'm very honored to be making history as the first petty officer of the watch."
Lt. Javier Araujo, stationed on the ship for 13 months, was the ship's first officer of the deck.
"It hasn't hit me yet, but for years to come I'll know I was the first to stand watch and the first to write in the log book," said Araujo. "It's nerve-racking, but it's a learning experience."
The first watches manned were followed by raising the American flag over the fantail (rear) of the ship for the first time. Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Ryan Jones of Bush's Air Department hoisted the flag, at a daily practice known as "colors."
"It was an exciting honor to raise the ensign for the first time on board CVN 77," said Jones. "It's something no one I know has been able to do and certainly doesn't happen every day."
On top of the first watches and colors detail, the first meals were served on board.
"Supply department has been working since July, loading a thousand pallets-worth of supplies," said Chief Warrant Officer John Lukeivic, Bush's food service officer. "It's due to the hard work of our food service attendants and culinary specialists that the crew is able to eat."
The galley served its first breakfast aboard that included sausage, gravy and biscuits, fresh fruit, omelettes and toast, according to Lukeivic.
"It was the best food line I've seen," said Aviation Support Equipment Technician 1st Class (AW) Daniel Parker. "The best part is that I don't pay for as much as I plan on eating," he joked.
Bush Commanding Officer, Capt. Kevin O'Flaherty, Port, executive officer, Capt. S Robert Roth, and Cmdr. Michelle Skubic, supply officer, all took part serving the crew a "surf-and-turf" lunch: lobster, steak, chicken cordon bleu and shrimp. After serving the crew, they cut a commemorative cake to mark the opening of the first galley.
O'Flaherty said crew move aboard was a giant milestone in the life of the ship.
While speaking to the crew at the ribbon and cake cutting ceremony, O'Flaherty said that the crew has spent a lot of time and worked very closely with the Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard to ensure that the crew move aboard day and the mess deck opening were a big deal and were done with style.
"It was pretty good," said Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Travis Westfall, Bush's Reactor Department.
"It's really convenient to be able to just walk upstairs and eat."
Along with moving aboard, the ship's security force has begun to stand watches.
"We've ramped up our roving patrols and we're monitoring the berthings. We've started watches on the officer and enlisted brow," said Master-at-Arms 2nd Class (SW) Jessica Webb of Bush's security force. "We've always had a presence on the ship, but there will be Sailors manning all the watches 24 hours a day."
The more than 2,100 Sailors attached to Bush are scheduled to complete their move aboard by the end of August, bringing them one step closer to delivering the ship to the fleet.
For more news from Pre-Commissioning Unit George H.W. Bush, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn77/.