CNO Visits USS George Washington (VNV 73)

Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Gary Roughead, visited USS George Washington (CVN 73) at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, Aug. 19, to address the crew and take questions as the ship prepares to get underway for Yokosuka, Japan.

Upon deployment to the 7th Fleet area of operations in the Western Pacific, George Washington will become the Navy’s only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier, replacing USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), the Navy’s last diesel-powered aircraft carrier.

“Now you really are the ambassadors of the United States Navy and ambassadors of the United States,” said Roughead, a former George Washington Carrier Strike Group commander. “I know this ship. I know the crew. And you are going to do an absolutely superb job.”

More than 500 Kitty Hawk Sailors and 1,800 Carrier Air Wing 5 Sailors have moved aboard George Washington since Kitty Hawk returned to San Diego Aug. 8. Kitty Hawk, the Navy’s oldest active-duty warship, will decommission early next year after 47 years of service, 10 of which have been in Japan.

The CNO commended the George Washington crew on their firefighting efforts during a fire May 22, and the subsequent 55,000 man days of repairs performed by crew and the civilian workforce at North Island since the ship arrived here May 27.

“You have done an absolutely incredible job,” Roughead said to George Washington’s crew during an all-hands call in the ship’s hangar bay. “This ship was tested, but you fought valiantly and effectively.”

Before leaving, Roughead and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (SW/FMF) Joe R. Campa Jr. answered questions from the crew ranging from sea-shore rotations to recent world current events.

Campa fielded a number of questions including one related to a recent newspaper article about the use of shipmate in an unflattering way.

“I think that the term ‘shipmate’ is something honorable and it’s something that each one of you earns. It should be something to be very proud of,” Campa said.

The visit is the last stop in CNO and MCPON’s 10-day tour world tour, which included stops in Bahrain, Iraq, Afghanistan, Singapore and Hawaii.

Carlos Gomez (NNS)

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