ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 19, 2014) – Waves formed and ventured out into the seemingly endless ocean as the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) sliced its way through the water. Explosions of steam shot up from the flight deck as TR’s catapults slung aircraft into the atmosphere. Beeping radars echoed inside the control room as Sailors tracked the aircraft.
TR’s Sailors also operate and maintain electrical units, boilers, networks and other various necessities to keep the ship pressing onward toward the horizon, but they are not alone.
The crew is training Sailors from Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) in rate-specific duties and giving them experience at sea. The training helps Sailors aboard the first Ford-class aircraft carrier get ready for the day Ford joins the fleet.
“I’m proud to know that I’m directly involved with preparing the Ford for future operations,” said TR Air Traffic Controller 1st Class Julius R. Challenger, a native of St. Croix, Virgin Islands. “I train the Ford Sailors so they can get their qualifications. I think it’s a vital role I’m playing, and I take pride in that.”
While TR Sailors are training Ford Sailors, the trainees are taking notes to pass on to others aboard Ford.
“In order to fly, there has to be qualified Sailors to run the operations,” said Ford Air Traffic Controller 1st Class Teresa Kiel, a native of Philadelphia. “It’s been four years since I’ve been on a ship, and it’s exciting because I feel like I’m rekindling my fire. I’m learning all these things again so I can go back and qualify the Sailors on the Ford.”
TR Sailors are treating Ford Sailors as one of their own while underway. They are giving them the full experience of what it is like to be underway on an aircraft carrier.
“I love training Sailors,” said TR Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class Zachary S. Christenson, a native of Buckhannon, W. Va. “We include the Ford Sailors in all our daily activities, from cleaners to standing watch. We are taking the necessary knowledge of being a Sailor and passing it on to them, and they are doing an amazing job. I’m excited for them to take this experience and build from it on the Ford.”
TR is providing a platform for Ford Sailors not only to earn qualifications, but also provide unique and useful experiences they can take with them.
“On the Ford, there will be obstacles for me,” said Ford Intelligence Specialist Seaman Apprentice Richard A. Ayala, a native of Stafford, Va. “I feel Roosevelt’s chain of command is preparing me for those obstacles, whatever they may be. There’s a sense of pride being on an older Nimitz-class carrier and I can’t wait to take things one step further on the Ford.”
“I’m just excited to experience what it’s like to be a Sailor,” said Ford Intelligence Specialist Seaman Apprentice Keyla M. Vargas-Colon, a native of Puerto Rico. “I’m doing a lot of things my rate requires of me that I just don’t get to do on the Ford yet. I briefed an admiral, Roosevelt’s commanding officer and executive officer for the first time. It was nerve racking, but I feel like I matured in my rate because of it. The experience of being underway is different than what I had imagined, but now I feel that I can sail on the Ford with confidence.”
The setting sun nestles itself in the horizon, painting a warm sky of yellow, orange and red. Aircraft land, catch the trap wires and proceed to park. Flight operations on TR are coming to an end for the day but it is not the end of training for Ford Sailors. Just as the sun will rise again in the morning, TR Sailors will continue to help them prepare for the day that Ford begins its first operation.
By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Ryan Litzenberger, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs
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