Three weeks into a 16-month yard period, the ship has already transformed drastically. The conversion of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) hangar bays from a storage and maintenance facility for aircraft to the epicenter for Puget Sound Naval Shipyard’s on-ship presence is an ever developing event. Miles of hoses snake throughout the ship, weaving above the hard-hat covered heads of the crew while safety and security have become paramount in the challenge of returning the oldest carrier in the fleet back to the front line of defense.
“The people of the United States depend on us to keep the bad guys on the other side of the water so they can sleep at night,” says Capt. John C. Ring, Commanding Officer of Nimitz. “That’s what this is all about. This is about getting the ship fixed, getting back out there, so you can do what you joined the Navy to do, which is making the world a safer place.”
“That’s what this is all about. This is about getting the ship fixed, getting back out there, so you can do what you joined the Navy to do, which is making the world a safer place.” -Capt. Ring
Underlining the physical changes with this maintenance period comes a conceptual change in the conduct and responsibilities of the crew.
“We are going to achieve our goal by the on-time completion of quality maintenance, maintaining qualified and proficient sea warriors, and by building a combat ready warship,” said Ring.
“Fixin’ for the Fight” is the motto that shows how serious the Nimitz is to return to the ocean. Like how many gears make a great machine run, it’s up to individual Sailors to each do his or her part in making sure Nimitz returns to sea on time.
Sailors that embrace the Captain’s concept of “Ship, Shipmate, Self” will create the greatest impact in preparing the ship to get back into fighting shape while simultaneously improving themselves and the people around them.
“When you are going home at the end of the day, there are three things I want you to ask yourself,” says Ring. “What have I done to improve the material readiness of the ship today? Second, What have I done to improve the Sailors around me? Last thing is self, what have I done to improve my skills or make myself better in general?”
Keep a critical eye open for discrepancies, and continuously be on the alert to any material condition inconsistencies that can be enhanced. From changing light bulbs to replacing rusted equipment, each Sailor has to do his or her part to better the ship’s combat readiness.
Safety is vital to progress of any Navy operation. Securing the welfare of personnel on the ship is the responsibility of all Nimitz Sailors. Every day Sailors should make sure that proper personal protective equipment is utilized, as well as, all safety regulations are adhered in the strictest way.
The strong tradition of teamwork that has developed on Nimitz over the years will continued to be fostered while the ship undergoes maintenance. Nimitz Sailors can use their expertise in various subjects to providing training for Sailors in your work center. Assisting less qualified Sailors advance will be both rewarding for the mentor as well as the mentee and will make each department stronger through this yard period.
Taking an advisory roll for new personnel will display unity for the department. Guiding a new shipmate will make a more effective as well as a more enjoyable work center. Even if you aren’t designated as a new check-in’s sponsor, going out of your way to usher in new Sailors displays character and integrity.
Being a shipmate is not only confined to the skin of Nimitz. Providing assistance to others is a mainstay of being service members, and Nimitz Sailors can use their talents and capabilities to assist in community service. The Religious Ministry department offers weekly community relations programs where Sailors can help citizens in the Bremerton community that could use aid. Volunteering is equally as rewarding to the person providing assistance as it is to the person who is receiving.
Improving one’s self should be an every day goal for any Sailor. This maintenance period offers Sailors the unique opportunity to advance themselves without the burden of splitting time between being home and getting underway.
The importance of education becomes more commonplace to the Navy everyday. A guaranteed time period of being in port provides the chance for Sailors to work on college credit, a value that will not only help you if you decided to leave the Navy after your enlistment, but will also improve your chances of advancing by adding points to your final multiple score.
Each Sailor has the responsibility to maintain a certain level of physical fitness. The benefits of having such a steady daily schedule provides Sailors the prospect of reaching the next level of personal health. A higher Physical Readiness Test score will reflect highly on evaluations, and better your chances of advancing.
Even if a Sailor feels that they are in good standings with all these areas of personal growth, emotional and spiritual growth can always be enhanced. Utilizing the on base library, Sailors can challenge themselves by reading a book that invites them to think differently. Developing new mindsets can assist Sailors in all aspects of life.
“To get it going initially is going to be the challenge, and I hope our leaders are up for the challenge,” said Ring.
The responsibility of maintaining the ship and ourselves is great, but it is a trial that Nimitz’ crew can surely accomplish. At the end of the day if everyone does his or her part, the ship will be ready to fight right on schedule.
Embracing the idea of “Ship, Shipmate, Self” during this maintenance period will gain exponential benefits. The combined efforts of each Sailor to improve these three aspects will create a stronger warship equipped with a crew of war fighters ready to take on any challenge that waits on the horizon.