NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- Sixty new crew members checked aboard pre-commissioning unit (PCU) Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), April 30, joining the first of the newest class of aircraft carrier.
The Sailors, assigned to various departments, are the first large group of new personnel to arrive on the ship since the PCU stood up, April 1. Currently, the carrier is under construction at Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries.
The sailors arriving are part of a phased manning plan developed to support the standup of departments while construction of the ship progresses. The ship's manning will continue to increase through 2015, culminating in moving aboard the ship and accepting of all of the spaces and systems as it reaches its full compliment. The focus of the initial crew will be to take over components as they are built, and learn to operate and maintain the ship and its many new systems, such as Dual Band Radar (DBR), Electromagnetic Magnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG).
The first step for the new crew members is to attend a newly-created command indoctrination class (INDOC), an important part of the check-in to any new command, according to Lt. Cmdr. Rick Johnston, Ford's training officer.
"The initial days and even hours a new crew member spends on board ship will have a significant effect on molding their attitude toward the command," said Johnston. "It is imperative that the command set the crew up for success and that begins with INDOC. There are the required subjects of INDOC, such as Navy Pride and Professionalism, suicide awareness, personal financial management, etc. These subjects will always be a part of INDOC. However, other parts of INDOC will be tailored to the current mission of the command. Currently the ship is under construction, so the command will focus on the Sailor's duties working in the ship yard environment. Subjects, such as the basics of ship yard organization, as well as, industrial and electrical safety, will be taught for the new construction mission. Additionally each Sailor will also be given a brief on the new CVN class of ship, so they understand the big picture of why the Navy made significant changes from the Nimitz class."
The recent check-ins brings the total number of crew members to more than 100. Electronics Technician Seaman Morgan Lee, from Garner, N.C., mentioned that when he received his orders he was excited and looking forward to being a part of not just a new aircraft carrier, but a new class of CVNs.
"This is history in the making, and I'm a part of it," said Lee.
Personnel Specialist Seaman Brittany Mickelson from Columbia Falls, Mont., who was recently selected to advance to 3rd class petty officer, was also excited about coming to Ford, and thrilled to be stationed in the same area as her brother Dennis, an electrician's mate fireman, stationed at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story.
"I'm really looking forward to working on a new ship in the Navy and learning all the new programs that are being introduced, but I'm even more excited that I have family nearby." said Mickelson.
Named for the 38th President of the United States, Gerald R. Ford will be the premiere forward asset for crisis response and early decisive striking power in a major combat operation. The carrier and the carrier strike group will provide forward presence, rapid response, endurance on station, and multi-mission capability. The steel for the ship was being cut as early as 2005 and the keel was officially laid on Nov. 14, 2009. Since that time, the Gerald R. Ford has been assembled compartment by compartment, gradually assuming the distinct shape of an aircraft carrier.
Recently, Ford celebrated a milestone with the announcement that the flight deck was complete following the final "Super Lifts" which placed the forward bow section and a final sponson.
For more information on PCU Gerald R. Ford follow the ship's fan page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/USSGeraldRFord.
For more news from Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn78/.