NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) received the fleet's highest recognition for superior operational performance and excellence in safety during an awards ceremony in the ship's hangar bay, May 16.
Adm. John C. Harvey, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces (USFF), Rear Adm. Ted N. Branch, commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic and Rear Adm. Brian C. Prindle, commander, Naval Safety Center, presented the Battenberg Cup Award, 2011 Battle "E" Award and the Admiral Flatley Memorial Award, respectively, to CVN 77.
Prindle presented the Admiral Flatley award to Electronics Technician 3rd Class Thomas Ackerson, Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Nieswand, from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, and Cmdr. Patrick Honeck, command safety officer, who accepted the award on the behalf of CVN 77 and CVW-8 for their overall safety performance.
In 2011, the CVN 77 and CVW-8 team logged more than 250 days underway, 30,000 flight hours, 14,000 sorties launched including 11,000 catapults shot, 15,000 aircraft recoveries and zero mishaps.
"The Bush and CVW-8 team, integrated professional execution of risk management in all you did and results, remarkably, speak for themselves," Prindle said.
The award is based on the overall safety record, including the number of Class A and B mishaps experienced by the ship and air wing, their exposure to hazards during the year, and a type commander assessment of the ship's safety program; including an evaluation of Operational Risk Management (ORM) readiness.
"A lot of safety is ORM driven," Honeck said. "Along with ORM, we also monitor 18 different Navy Safety and Occupational Health programs on board; everything from eye hazards, hearing protection, electrical safety and heat stress, to inspections of all of the ladders, trunks, hatches and non-skid aboard the ship."
Branch presented the 2011 Battle "E" award to Operations Specialist 1st Class Shanika Simms and Lt. Eric Andrews, as CVN 77 was selected as the top carrier in the Atlantic Fleet in the 2011 Commander Naval Air Force Carrier Battle Efficiency and Departmental Awards Program.
"The Battle 'E' award means that you have done everything not just well, but you have done everything the best," Branch said. "You have demonstrated excellence in all your warfighting capabilities and mission sets. In the short span of time that you have had to become operational and go to the tip of the spear to exercise your mission set and accomplishing the Navy's mission and doing it with such precision and such great results, is just simply incredible."
The Battle Efficiency Award, or Battle "E", recognizes superior operational performance, an assessment of the crew of George H.W. Bush who won the honors on the heels of the ship's first combat deployment. It was a clean sweep for the Navy's newest aircraft carrier, earning all 13 departmental awards and an additional nod to the combined George H.W. Bush and CVW-8 carrier maintenance team, making CVN 77 the only operational carrier to win honors in all categories.
"Winning the Battle 'E' is a great accomplishment and a testament to the skill of any crew, but it's all the more meaningful when you consider the fact that our crew earned it during the ship's maiden deployment, the first deployment ever for 40 percent of our Sailors," said George H.W. Bush Commanding Officer Capt. Brian E. Luther.
"I think the very essence of our success was teamwork. We had a common goal and we worked together to achieve that," said CVN 77 Command Master Chief (SW/AW) David Colton. "A key element is leadership. We train ourselves and we train our subordinates, and that's culminated in the clean sweep. I'm exceptionally proud of every member of this crew, because every one of them played a role in this, from the Sailors launching the aircraft up on deck to the Sailors working in the ship's laundry, it was truly an all hands effort that paid off."
Harvey presented the Battenberg Cup Award to Electrician's Mate 1st Class Daniel Kliche and Chief Navy Counselor Aaron Jackson, recognizing the George H.W. Bush crew as the top unit in USFF. The award is presented to the premier vessel among aircraft carriers, surface ships and submarines where they are ranked for "Battle Efficiency" and achievements in other areas such as operations, administration and leadership.
The Battenberg Cup, also known as the British Challenge Cup, was initiated by Rear Adm. Prince Louis of Battenberg. Under his command in 1905, four armored cruisers from the British Second Cruiser Squadron made a goodwill cruise to Annapolis, Md. Washington, D.C. and New York. The visit was hosted by then-Rear Adm. Robley D. Evans, commander in chief of the Atlantic Fleet. After returning to Great Britain, he created the cup to recognize the "good fellowship and wonderful entertainments" he and his men experienced in their visit to the United States. The large silver trophy he made stood three feet high and 11 inches in diameter at the top.
Battenberg mailed the cup to Evans, with an accompanying letter stating the cup was intended for the enlisted men under Evans' command. The letter also requested the cup to become a challenge cup. In accordance with Battenberg's wishes, Evans subsequently set up racing rules so that British sailors would compete with American Sailors in using U.S. Navy standard racing cutters.
From 1906 until 1940, competitions were held until the war years disrupted them and they never resumed until 1978. That year Adm. Isaac C. Kidd Jr., commander in chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet; reinstated the Battenberg Cup Award, not for racing cutters, but as a symbol of operational excellence within the Atlantic Fleet.
"You have institutionalized excellence and the right way to do business in the United States Navy, taking the might and mission of the Unites States on deployment," Harvey said. "That's what you have done and you have done it better than anybody else in the Navy."
Other ships in the Battenberg Cup competition included the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) representing Naval Surface Forces Atlantic; and the nuclear submarine USS New Hampshire (SSN 778) representing Submarine Force Atlantic.
"Today, I join my father in thanking you for not only serving this nation but for making sure the Avenger rises to the top. The Battenberg Cup and Admiral Flatley Memorial Awards are the result of your passion, your commitment to the Navy, to serving others, to safety and to quite simply, being the best the Atlantic fleet has to offer," Koch said. "The 'E' in the Battle 'E' stands for efficiency, but I know it represents many more attributes all of you process; excellence, experience, expertise and elite. My dad is honored and humbled by the work and dedication of each of you, the elite leaders and crew of this ship."
"This is a perfect example of hard work being recognized and I am honored to be the commanding officer to the crew. Receiving these awards shows the relentless dedication and superior performance the crew on this warship displays on a continuous basis to keep it maintained at the highest levels of excellence," said Luther.
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