2004-10-29 / Front Page

Local Sails On Small City

By JOSN Christopher Okula, USN

  On any given day around the globe, thousands of stouthearted men and women live night and day aboard some of the most powerful machines ever built. While the work may be hard and the hours long, life on these hulking peacemakers is never dull.

  Sailors aboard such aircraft carriers dedicate more than half of their waking days to their shipmates and to the home they must all defend. The complexity of the carrier and its around-the-clock tasks demand no less.

One of these hardworking sailors is Seaman Apprentice Shavonne Holman, who serves aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73), homeported in Norfolk, Virginia. 

Holman, daughter of Anntrette Holman of Far Rockaway, is a deck seaman.

“I stand watch ensuring the safety on board. I also take part in underway refueling and replenishments,” said Holman.

USS George Washington is a nuclear powered aircraft carrier manned 24 hours a day by a carefully choreographed crew of sailors like Holman.

While the carrier is equipped with some of the world’s most versatile and powerful weapons systems, the sheer visibility of her operations is enough to deter conflicts within the ship’s large operational radius.

While sailors must make many personal sacrifices to defend their nation, Holman says carrier life also presents her with a unique series of perks to enjoy. George Washington’s recent deployment to the Arabian Gulf was no exception.

“It was interesting seeing all the different ports and learning about other countries’ cultures. I hope to see many other foreign ports as soon as possible,” she said.

With few exceptions, the George Washington has all the amenities of a small American town. More than 5,000 carrier residents have their barbershop, library and post office just minutes from their sleeping quarters.

Amenities aside, carriers remain an instrument of projected military power wielded only by the collective effort of thousands. These sailors recognize the importance of their endeavors, and quickly proclaim the pride they feel for serving their nation in the global war on terrorism.

“The department I’m attached to, the deck department, stands man overboard watches, which means we make sure no one is ever lost at sea.  We also get to steer the ship. It’s a huge responsibility, but I’m always glad to take it on,” said the 2003 graduate of Bushwick High School in Brooklyn. Without the skill and teamwork of sailors like Holman, these cities at sea couldn’t be the great defenders they are. Although the George Washington crew is currently taking some “down time” from their recent deployment, they are already preparing for their next voyage.

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