the crew in myriad ways, including berthing the crew
off site; morale, welfare and recreation services, such as
event tickets; and the Fleet Family Services Support
Center just outside the shipyard.
The crew started moving back onboard the ship in
August, a process that took several weeks.
“While keeping the eye on the prize of operating the
warship has been difficult, the [crew move-aboard
milestone] has really allowed the Sailors to see the light
at the end of the tunnel and they are fired up, ready to
get to sea,” said Koehler.
Moving onboard, the crew had much to be pleased
with: easy-to-clean tile floors on the mess decks; new and
upgraded equipment in all seven galleys and eight mess-es; flat-screen television sets in the wardrooms, chief’s
mess and crew mess decks; new crew lounge areas; two
new gyms (plus one more to be installed later) with new
workout equipment; new mattresses and pillows.
“I couldn’t promise them that it would be the
Hilton,” Carter said. “But I did promise them that they
will feel secure, safe, and it’s a place that they’re going
to want to not only work, but live.”
“A crew move-aboard is a major event and there are
a million things that can hold you up,” Hughes said,
noting that it was one of the most successful he had
seen. “The [commanding officer] was incredibly
pleased. When he’s happy, we’re happy.”
Challenges and Advantages
The Carl Vinson RCOH also represented challenges and
new capabilities for the Newport News shipyard. With
another carrier — USS Enterprise — in for work and two
others under construction or planning — George H.W.
Bush and Gerald R. Ford — mustering the workers with
the right skills at the right ship at the right time was a
scheduling challenge for a finite work force, Hughes said.
The RCOH benefited from a new facility, Pier 3, which
was used because George H. W. Bush was being built at the
outfitting pier that usually is used for RCOH work. The
new pier featured office space for 300 employees on the
second story, right across the gangway from the ship.
Hughes said the structure was a “tremendous advantage,” enabling the crew to more easily integrate with the
yard force, get tools to the ship more quickly and mini-