Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford recognizes women in the Navy

Story by Ensign Corey T. Jones, PCU Gerald R. Ford Public Affairs

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – U.S. Navy Sailor and President Gerald R. Ford, the 38th commander in chief, helped pave the way for female Sailors presently aboard his namesake carrier Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), in an effort dating back to World War II.

During the war, many men in the United States fought in battles raging in Europe and the Pacific, including President Ford, then a young assistant navigator, leaving a noticeable void in the U.S. manufacturing sector.

Millions of women would soon transform their role from homemaker to one of factory worker as a result, and those who welded and riveted earned the nickname “Rosie,” flexing their muscles while ushering in a new era of inclusiveness and diversity in the workforce.

According his presidential foundation, President Ford supported the Equal Rights Amendment and emphasized the need to increase the number of women in the federal government.

In March of 1975, President Ford directed that all persons have an opportunity to compete on a fair and equal basis for employment and advancement in the federal government. Ford stated his determination to eliminate all vestiges of discrimination within the federal government.

President Ford passed the Military Procurement Bill of 1975, which permitted women to be eligible for appointment and admission to the service academies for classes entering in 1976.

Aboard PCU Gerald R. Ford, thousands of women continue the tradition of excellence and inclusiveness set forth by President Ford and “Rosie the Riveter.”

Navy Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 3rd Class Keishunda Ellislee from Miami, Florida, is the first female in her family to join the military.

“I love when people break down barriers and open the doors for later generations to thrive,” said Ellislee. “I think the Navy has come a long way from where it was before.”

In the 28 years since Cmdr. Luis “Rick” Rivera, Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department head and Ellislee’s officer in charge, joined the Navy, he has noticed a drastic change in the roles women perform on ships.

“It is not only a great improvement all around for females in the military, but also all around for women in our society,” Rivera said. “My first cruises were male only.”


Rivera recalled that women were eventually allowed on the ships working with phones or as nurses.

The Navy continues to push toward service member equality, said Rivera, and a number of females occupy senior leadership positions in his department aboard the carrier.

“We were resistant to change at first, but then once it is embraced it becomes really positive,” Rivera said. “Little by little that glass ceiling gets broken every day.”

The mission of the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department is to provide maintenance, inspect, test, check, calibrate, lubricate and provide component repair to aircraft and support equipment, enhancing the effectiveness of embarked surface and aviation units.

The level of this capability ranges from the small, delicate work performed by micro-miniature repair technicians to complex work performed by jet engine mechanics.

The Department of the Navy continues to study equal opportunity, such as female combat endurance, while opening more roles to women.

“They bring that other view and that excellence shows in everything they do and I think of them as complete equals,” said Rivera.

Females may now serve aboard submarines, for example, and others from all communities and ratings will be afforded the opportunity to be among the first to join the U.S. naval submarine service.

“I’m just excited to see what the future holds – in the military and in the world,” said Ellislee. “I think women are really stepping out and venturing into new things.”

Ford is under construction at Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding.


Ford’s 3 AM Warriors

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cathrine Mae O. Campbell

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Aug. 9, 2016) – “We had twice as many Sailors as we had parking spots,” said Chief Aviation Support Equipment Technician Mark Hicks. “Between West Avenue Garage, 29th Street and building 608 we only had a total of 994 spots.”


160804-N-ZE240-038 NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Aug. 4, 2016) – Vans used by Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) transportation shuttle drivers and provide transportation to and from the Net Center parking lot and the ship. Ford Sailors do not need a parking pass for the Net Center and can park there seven days a week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cathrine Mae O. Campbell/Released)

Parking has been a battle for Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Sailors since the crew moved aboard the ship over a year ago.

“This led to people getting to work extremely early to get a spot, pay for parking or use one of the incentives that we have available, such as our carpool program or the transportation incentive program (TIP),” said Hicks.

Although another 200 parking spaces at garage 902 and 903 became available, it only provided temporary relief. In March, Ford opened up the Net Center parking lot providing ample parking for Ford Sailors.


160804-N-ZE240-013 NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Aug. 4, 2016) – Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Sailors use a shuttle to the ship provided by Ford transportation from the Net Center parking lot. Ford Sailors do not need a parking pass for the Net Center and can park there seven days a week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cathrine Mae O. Campbell/Released)

“We have over 700 spaces available just in this spot alone,” Aviation Support Equipment Technician 2nd Class Doland Miller, Ford’s assistant leading petty officer for transportation. “Having a shuttle guarantees that Sailors can get from the parking lot to the ship when they need to get there without having to worry about traffic, and without having to worry about paying for parking. It guarantees that their vehicles are safe thanks to the roving security in the lot and makes sure they stay safe on their way to and from the ship.”

Electronics Technician 3rd Class Alysa Rodriguez, a Ford Sailor who has been using the shuttle for the past two months, said parking at the Net Center is beneficial, and leaves more time to sleep in and prepare for the workday ahead.

“It’s a good option because the alternative would’ve been to show up at the garage at 4 a.m. and that’s ridiculous,” said Rodriguez. “It’s super convenient because I can use my mornings to make breakfast and take my time to get to work, and still park at 6:30 a.m.”


160804-N-ZE240-053 NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Aug. 4, 2016) – Aviation Support Equipment Technician 2nd Class Dolland Miller, assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) transportation, sorts through fuel cards for the Net Center parking lot shuttles. Shuttles provide transit to the Net Center parking lot where Ford Sailors can park seven days a week without a parking pass. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cathrine Mae O. Campbell/Released)

Currently, Ford’s shuttle drivers use two 15-passenger vans and one 7-passenger van to get Sailors to and from the parking lot.

“We try to keep it so there’s always a van nearby before we leave the parking lot,” said Miller. “We always keep a steady stream so people don’t have to wait as long.”

Ford’s shuttles run as early as 4 a.m. and as late as 8 p.m., with five drivers in the morning and another five in the afternoon.

“I’m out of bed by 2:30 a.m. every morning to grab breakfast, feed my son and kiss my wife before I head to work,” said Miller. “Waking up early every day is a real challenge and leaving early is difficult because I worry about having everything ready so the day is easier for my family until I return. Most days, I’m gone before they wake up. The first time they see me for the day is after lunch.”

Transportation runs seven days a week and Sailors assigned as shuttle drivers have two non-consecutive days out of the week off.

“They make our job easier getting to work,” Rodriguez said. “They do their job really well and I really appreciate what they do.”


160804-N-ZE240-047 NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Aug. 4, 2016) – Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Paul Zimmerman, assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) transportation, drives the shuttle through Newport News. Ford Sailors do not need a parking pass for the Net Center and can park there seven days a week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cathrine Mae O. Campbell/Released)

Sailors interested in parking at the Net Center do not need passes to park and can use the shuttles every day from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m., and from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. During the hours between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m., Sailors may contact an on-call shuttle driver at (757) 266-7739.

Ford Dental Department: the Root for Area Sailors’ Dental Care

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Ruiz

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Dental care is a quality-of-life issue that Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Sailors don’t have to worry about. Ford Sailors have the option to be seen on board or at the Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair (SUPSHIP) Dental Clinic located at Huntington Hall.


NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (August 3, 2016) –Hospitalman Andrea Baracosa, assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), takes a dental x-ray of a Sailor assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Delaware (SSN 791) at SUPSHIP Dental Clinic at Huntington Hall. Ford’s Dental Department mans the fully functional dental clinic that provides dental care to Ford Sailors and Sailors from other area commands. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Ruiz/Released)

For Sailors who are part of commands that lack dental care facilities or personnel, Ford Dental Department has also offered assistance and technical skills to ensure that area Sailors receive dental care.

Ford’s Dental Department treats Sailors from SUPSHIP, Navy Reactor, a Marine company, and Sailors who are on the several submarines that are in the yards right now, said Lt. Mary Catherine McGinn, Ford’s Dental division officer.

At the SUPSHIP Dental Clinic, non-Ford Sailors can set up appointments for routine examinations, fillings, cleanings, crowns, and other minor care. Ford Sailors can be seen aboard the ship for x-rays, dental sick call, and cleanings, but need to visit the clinic for operative dental treatment such as fillings or root canals.


NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (August 3, 2016) –Lt. Mary Catherine McGinn, assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), performs a dental cleaning on a Sailor assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Delaware (SSN 791) at SUPSHIP Dental Clinic at Huntington Hall. Ford’s Dental Department mans the fully functional dental clinic that provides dental care to Ford Sailors and Sailors from other area commands. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Ruiz/Released)

“For us it’s fun to be over there because we’re actually getting to do fillings and meet that need for our Sailors, so it definitely breaks up the routine,” said McGinn.

Ford has one dentist and one dental corpsman at the clinic to manage daily operations and provide dental care to service members.

“I’ve gotten a cleaning and a couple of check ups at the clinic,” said Machinist Mate (Nuclear) 1st Class David Sjostedt, assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Indiana (SS 789). “Its very convenient and I’m not losing a work day as opposed to driving down to Portsmouth or Norfolk, which would be a lot of lost productivity especially with the traffic.”

Not only does the clinic provide a convenience factor to area Sailors, but it allows Sailors to learn about each others commands while providing excellent dental care.

“It’s interesting to me to be able to meet so many different Sailors and Marines, especially submariners,” said Hospitalman Andrea Baracosa. “Subs don’t have dental technicians or dentists on them. They have an Independent Duty Corpsmen (IDC), so they have to come to us and I always have questions about their commands and daily routines.”

In accordance with an agreement between U.S. Fleet Forces and Navy Medical Center Portsmouth, the Ford Dental Department provides care to commands in the Newport News area.

Since May 2013 the SUPSHIP clinic has been manned by Ford’s Dental Department and the clinic is part of the branch health clinic triad that includes Health Clinic Norfolk, Dental Clinic Norfolk, and Health Clinic Yorktown.

“We’re a small department, but we offer a lot to Ford Sailors and other Sailors and Marines in the area, “ said Baracosa.


NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (August 3, 2016) –Lt. Mary Catherine McGinn and Hospitalman Andrea Baracosa, assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), puts in a dental filling in Engineman 3rd Class Benjamin Hodge mouth at SUPSHIP Dental Clinic at Huntington Hall. Ford’s Dental Department mans the fully functional dental clinic that provides dental care to Ford Sailors and Sailors from other area commands. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Ruiz/Released)

Meet the Gerald R. Ford Senior Medical Officer

Aboard the first-in-class aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), Capt. Kimberly Toone serves as the Senior Medical Officer, responsible for the medical care of over 2,500 crew members. In addition to leading a department of 10 medical officers and 30 hospital corpsmen, she was appointed by the Navy Surgeon General as the medical community’s Aerospace Medicine Specialty leader.

Toone grew up in Plant City, Fla. She earned her undergraduate degree from Florida State, University, her medical degree from University of Florida’s College of Medicine, and a Master’s in Public Health degree from Tulane University.

Although Toone laughs when she claims that the recruiter’s promise of money to pay for medical school is what first interested in the Navy, her motivation for serving has changed.

“I enjoy taking care of Sailors and Marines,” said Toone. “I also enjoy the non-standard jobs the Navy offers.”

Over the course of her career, she has provided medical support for space shuttle launches, been involved in humanitarian operations following the 2006 earthquake in Indonesia, and lived three years in Japan, where she provided medical support to the Marines.

Although she initially trained as a pediatric intern at the medical facility in Bethesda, Md., Toone realized during flight surgery training in Pensacola that she was more interested in operational medicine. As a flight surgeon, she is required to fly four hours a month, and currently logs her required hours with Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 56 out of Oceana, Va.

In addition to being the Senior Medical Officer aboard the Navy’s newest class of aircraft carrier, Toone also has the distinction of having served as the Senior Medical Officer aboard the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), the last of the Nimitz-class carriers.

Life aboard a warship is inherently dangerous, she said. In addition to the dangers of machinery and aircraft movement, there is always the risk of heat injuries, burns, falls, and fires. The Gerald R. Ford medical department’s quick response team is comprised of four corpsmen who are trained to respond to a medical emergency anywhere on the ship within three minutes, a metric that is especially noteworthy when one considers that an aircraft carrier is the length of three football fields, and has a height of 20 stories.

Because the challenges of providing medical care on an aircraft carrier are greater than those of a hospital, Toone notes that “Our corpsmen are able to do more than corpsmen ashore.”

Having been aboard the ship since 2015, Toone takes satisfaction in seeing the evolution of Ford’s medical capabilities. When fully operational, the medical team will have a full lab, pharmacy, and operating room. There is a 3-bed intensive care unit, 2-bed emergency room, and 41-bed hospital ward.

“At sea, you always have to be prepared for the worst,” said Toone. “There isn’t really a safety valve if something goes wrong – if you’re at a hospital you can call for an ambulance to transport a patient to another facility where they can receive a higher level of care. At sea, you are it.”


NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (June 22, 2016) — Lee-Ann Humenik, director of development at the University of Florida, is escorted throughout Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) by ,senior medical officer aboard Ford, June 22, 2016. . (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ryan Carter/Released)

A Day of Reflection

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class E.A. Thompson

He turns off his alarm and slowly rises out of bed to get ready for work. As he stands in front of the mirror, he stares at the three-inch scar extending from his lower neck, along his collarbone, and to his left shoulder. He turns slightly, looking at another raised scar.

Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class Henrique Soares, assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), has a career that is full of stories; this particular one starts in 2006.

At the time Soares, then a hospital corpsman, was a search and rescue corpsman attached to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Three One stationed at Branch Health Clinic China Lake, California. He was the only corpsman to be assigned as an individual augementee with the 3rd Marines, 14th Battalion Police Transition Team (PTT).

Soares, along with 19 Marines, made up the PTT. That April, they were sent to Hit, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The team used an old school building as their base of operations. Each day the team woke up at 5:30 a.m., loaded their vehicles, patrolled the immediate area, and visited four to five police stations to train Iraqi police officers. Some days their mission would not end until 10 p.m., occasionally stretching into the next day.

HIT, IRAQ (2006)

The Humvees of Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class Henrique Soares’ PTT team are parked in front of the school house they used as their base of operation. Soares received a Purple Heart for his injuries received in Iraq. (Photo courtesy of Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class Henrique Soares)

December 6 started as uneventfully as every other day of his eight-month tour.

“We went to the first police station, everything seemed normal,” said Soares. “We went to the second police station; we did some training and recruiting. We screened recruits to make sure they were not terrorists and that they were physically able to go to the Iraqi police academy.”

During this time the team received intelligence of suspected terrorist activity near the hospital in Hit, which is the only hospital in the area for Iraqi nationals.

Soares’ team was a part of a quick reaction force and would typically provide close-in direct support to different units two times a week. Being called for firefight support, aiding other U.S. military troops in direct combat with enemy forces, was not uncommon.

HIT, IRAQ (2006)

The Humvees of Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class Henrique Soares’ PTT team are parked in front of the school house they used as their base of operation. Soares received a Purple Heart for his injuries received in Iraq. (Photo courtesy of Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class Henrique Soares)

“We got there and nobody was around,” said Soares. “We did our standard clearing procedures then we got ambushed from four different positions by more than 40 personnel. There were only 20 of us and five to ten Iraqi police officers. We didn’t have good odds.”

Soares, the rest of the PTT, and the Iraqi police were pinned down, receiving fire from multiple angles. Their only cover was behind four Humvees, which made maneuvering out of their position difficult.

“I got a call through the radio that there was a man down,” said Soares. “I saw the guy who was down; he was in the middle of the firing line. He seemed conscious and awake, but he didn’t want to crawl to us because he seemed scared.”

The downed man was an Iraqi police lieutenant. He had been shot through his upper thigh. Disregarding enemy fire, Soares ran to the lieutenant. Dodging gunfire, he slid, head first, to the lieutenant.

“He had a single bullet wound to the butt area,” said Soares. “There was no life endangerment. I figured I would drag him back to the Humvees to finish patching him up.”

Soares grabbed the lieutenant by the shoulder straps of his flack jacket and began to drag him back to the relative safety of the Humvees, exposing them both to enemy fire. Soares himself became a target. He felt his left arm go weak, but he continued pulling the lieutenant to safety using the strength of his right arm alone.

“While I was pulling him, I felt my collarbone was out of place; it was burning. I thought I might have broken it when I slid next to the lieutenant. But we were still getting fire so I just kept on dragging him back until I got us behind the vehicle. My thought was to get him to safety. I was too focused to worry about myself,” said Soares.

With one last heave, Soares got the lieutenant behind the wheel of the Humvee. He finished bandaging the lieutenant and tried to help the Marines put the lieutenant in the Humvee.

“That’s when my gunny yelled at me to stay down,” said Soares. “He told me I’d been hit. When I realized I was hit everything went quiet. Everything moved in slow motion.”

Soares slid down the wheel of the Humvee onto the desert floor. He had been hit with a single round from an AK-47 while dragging the lieutenant to safety. The bullet pierced the back of his neck, cracked his C-7 vertebrae, shattered his left clavicle, passed through his shoulder, shattered his rotator cuff and exited through his upper left shoulder.

Soares now had to turn his corpsman skills onto himself.

“I couldn’t move my left arm,” said Soares. “I was looking for entrance and exit wounds, but I couldn’t feel much.”

Marine Cpl. Richard West, an infantrymen of Soares’ PTT, also began checking Soares.

HIT, IRAQ (2006)

The Humvees of Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class Henrique Soares’ PTT team are parked in front of the school house they used as their base of operation. Soares received a Purple Heart for his injuries received in Iraq. (Photo courtesy of Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class Henrique Soares)

“My buddy asked me to move my legs and I did,” said Soares. “Then he told me I wasn’t. I was in shock. I was in denial.”

Soares’ body went numb with the exception of his right arm.

“I rubbed my hand over my collarbone and my hand caught on something,” said Soares. “I saw blood on my hand. I found my collarbone was popped through the skin. I had to talk West through what to do.”

The gunfight did not stop while Soares lead West though the bandaging of his wounds. He was forced to lay there waiting for backup to arrive.

“All I heard was gunfire and screaming,” said Soares. “My team was trying to figure out how we were going to fight back. I heard another language, the Iraqi police talking to themselves, but I couldn’t focus on what anyone was saying. It was as if someone put a video on slow motion and everything was blurry, slowed down and drawn out.”

More than 30 minutes passed while Soares lay helpless. Somehow he remained calm.

Backup finally arrived. A junior Army medic immediately began looking over Soares.

“I felt he was freaking out due to the extent of my injuries,” said Soares.  “I was worried he might do something wrong or not use good judgment. I had to keep myself up to talk him through the injury. I became comfortable only when I got to the hospital where there were doctors.”

The field hospital, similar to a battle dressing station on board Ford, was where doctors stabilized Soares. While at this hospital, the members of Soares’ PTT came to visit.

“I had mixed emotions,” said Soares. “I was mad my team was about to be without a corpsman, because I was their only corpsman. I didn’t want to leave them. I felt like the mission was incomplete.”

Soares’ team assured him they would be fine. They wanted him to take care of himself. The team then saw him off as he was transferred to a bigger hospital in the city of Balad.

The doctors in Balad initially thought Soares would be paralyzed. Further examination of his x-rays revealed Soares had spinal shock. With this diagnosis, Soares would eventually regain full feeling in all of his limbs.

Soon after his first surgery, Soares began to improve.

“I could see everybody running around in a controlled chaos,” said Soares. “I started to check myself again, everything below my chest was numb. I saw stitches over my clavicle. It felt the rough, like the feeling train tracks. I thought to myself, I’m going to have an ugly scar. Then the smell of iron hit me. I smelled blood and I felt the hemovacs underneath my skin.”

A hemovac is a drain placed underneath the skin that removes blood clots and fluid buildup post surgery.

With his immediate surgeries complete, Soares began his trip home.

He had to stop in Germany at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the closest, major military hospital for military personnel coming from Iraq. Here he had one more surgery. He was then flown to Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, before arriving at Naval Medical Center San Diego.

It took 10 days to get home, where his girlfriend, mother, and sister were anxiously waiting for his return.

After another week, Soares was released from the hospital, but his visits to the doctor were far from over.

Physical therapy lasted six months, but Soares only took 30 days of convalescent leave.

“After convalescent leave I was put up for medical discharge,” said Soares. “I fought that process heavily. I got in contact with Lieutenant Bird, who was the physician assistant at China Lake. We made a deal that if I pass the PRT then he will help me stay in the Navy.”

Soares had three months to prepare for the March 2007 physical readiness test.

“I struggled with the pushups, but I fought to stay in,” said Soares. “I replayed the ‘Eye of the Tiger’ in my head as my personal theme song. I struggled, but I felt invincible when I passed.”

Unfortunately, the feeling of invincibility faded. That same month Soares got word that a good friend from his PTT team, Marine Cpl. Trevor Roberts, had died.

“I was emotional because I wanted to be with my guys,” said Soares. “I kept to myself most of the time. I tried not to hang out with a lot of people because they didn’t know what I was going through. I didn’t feel understood at work or at home. My girlfriend didn’t understand where my mood swings and temper would come from.”

His girlfriend soon suggested that he see someone to talk about what he had gone through. Soares agreed to go to group therapy.

“I did group therapy with other wounded vets,” said Soares. “That worked out for me better, because I got to talk to a bunch of guys who knew exactly what I was going through who had the same type of feelings and emotions. It brought a lot of things back into perspective.”

Soares did group therapy for eight months, joined the Purple Heart Riders motorcycle club, and even married his girlfriend. Things were looking up. Then the other shoe came crashing down.

In December 2008, Soares was processed out the Navy due to high year tenure.

“I didn’t want to leave the Navy with an incomplete mission,” said Soares. “I wanted to go back and do a full deployment.”

Soares worked to become a Sailor again. In September 2009, Soares swore the oath yet again, joining the Navy Reserves. In 2013, Soares volunteered for deployment to Afghanistan as a member of the Fleet Surgical Team. He was able to complete the full deployment. He then got the call to come back to active duty, June 2014, as an interior communications electrician.

Soares has no intentions of getting out of the Navy before his 20 years.

“My goal is to make chief,” said Soares. “I also think about cross-rating to corpsman just shy of every day. I would love that opportunity again. The Navy will just have to kick me out again.”

Through the years, Soares has earned all types of decorations and accolades, from numerous bluejackets of the year to a Naval Commendation Medal with a Valor Device, but he says nothing holds the same distinction as his Purple Heart that he received for his injuries sustained in Iraq.

The Ford-Class Maintenance Plan

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Aidan P. Campbell



NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (July 13, 2016) — Sailors assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) review Maintenance Material Management (3M) paperwork during Ford’s 3M Phase One Loadout. Phase One Loadout ensures the 3M systems aboard Ford, a first-in-class warship outfitted with brand new equipment, are applicable to the new technology. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jonathan Pankau/Released)

Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is equipped with some of the Navy’s newest and most high-tech electronics, all of which requires special care to keep it running smoothly.

Ford crew members are examining the ship’s equipment and drafting the Navy’s version of a ship owner’s manual, the ship’s Maintenance and Material Management (3M) program.

The first step in drafting the Ford’s 3M program is identifying what maintenance is needed in a collaborative effort called a Phase One Loadout.  Representatives from every department on the ship are meeting with the ship’s 3M Coordinators and their civilian counterparts to determine what equipment is present and the care it needs.

“A Phase One Loadout is a List of Effective Pages verification more than anything,” said Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) Bryan Hay, one of Ford’s 3M Coordinators.  “We’re also verifying each individual workcenter has preventive maintenance coverage for every piece of gear they own.”

On a brand new design of warship every piece of equipment must be looked at and assessed individually.


NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (July 13, 2016) — Sailors assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) review Maintenance Material Management (3M) paperwork during Ford’s 3M Phase One Loadout. Phase One Loadout ensures the 3M systems aboard Ford, a first-in-class warship outfitted with brand new equipment, are applicable to the new technology. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jonathan Pankau/Released)

Hay says that the Nimitz class ships were so similar that the 3M programs from one ship could easily be adapted for use on another, but that is not possible on the Ford.

Senior Chief Cryptologic Technician (Technical) John Brock is helping to pave the way forward for the new class of ship.

“We’re learning how to maximize manpower between assigning jobs and tracking maintenance requirements for the Ford,” says Brock.  “I would say that the expertise between senior leadership and the civilian counterparts is instrumental in delivering and maintaining a fully capable warship.”

Once Phase One Loadout is complete, Ford’s 3M team will start the work toward the Phase Two Loadout which consists of identifying the best procedures for maintaining the equipment identified earlier.

“The last three years the Ford’s 3M team has been working hard to get a program running on a first-in-class warship. Lots of unknowns and hurdles popped up while building the program but we’ve had a lot of support from the Ford crew,” says Hay.  “I know it will continue.”

Exceptional Family Member Program Benefits Ford Sailors

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class E.A. Thompson

San Diego Change of Command

When Lt. David Rowley’s wife, Kassandra, gave birth to triplets at 33 weeks, his family braced for complications. Almost immediately, two of his children developed intraventricular hemorrhaging. Although that threat was resolved, it was not long before the new parents noticed that infants Mitchell and Connie were having trouble keeping food down.

“I remember at Naval Justice School hearing one of the instructors mention the EFM [Exceptional Family Member] program,” said Rowley. “But at that point in time, nobody I talked to seemed to know the actual path to it. So I was very well aware that it was a thing, but I didn’t know how you engage that thing.”


The Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) supports military family members with special needs. Applicable family members include spouses, children, or a dependent adult.

Military One Source defines special needs as those who require special medical services due to a chronic condition, receive ongoing services from a medical specialist, have significant behavioral health concerns, or those who receive early intervention or special education services through an individualized education program. The Navy currently has more than 17,000 family members enrolled in the program, which is broken up into six categories depending on the needs of the family member.

“We got to San Diego, to Region Legal Service Office Southwest, and I hunted down the EFM coordinator there,” said Rowley. “He gave me the forms to fill out. My kids started getting checked into the Navy medical system, seeing their [primary care manager] and eventually a pediatric gastroenterologist. That’s when the diagnoses started coming through, and we pushed through the EFM paperwork.”

Having a family member enrolled in the program helps detailers plan for a Sailor’s future assignments. Generally, a Sailor will be stationed in a location where the unique needs of the family will be met.

“We determine suitability of Navy and Marine Corp service members and their families [for EMFP] by identifying medical, dental and educational reqDoorstepuirements,” said Chief Hospital Corpsman Cedric Gaines, Ford’s EFMP coordinator.

“Especially with the [category] fours and fives, a part of the reason why assignments are limited to major installations is they want to make sure they have enough specialists in the area for those issues,” Rowley, who recently made the move from San Diego to Hampton Roads, explained. “And for continuity of care. They want to make sure that the family member will have providers who are all on the same page.”

Through the EFMP, family members can take advantage of a variety of programs and support services. Tricare Extended Care Health Options is a program that provides financial assistance for special needs services and supplies. Other services offered include recreational programs, speech therapy, behavioral therapy, applied behavioral analysis and referrals to community services.

“One of the primary benefits that we got is that category four and five [members] are allowed to get respite care,” said Rowley. “When you have three infants, it’s a lot for one person, especially when two of them have some medical issues going on. So we were able to have a respite care provider come in and assist with the kids. And that gave [my wife] the opportunity to just walk away, take a breather, or make appointments to take one of the other kids to the doctor.”

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Rowley is one of several Ford Sailors now successfully enrolled in EFMP.  His toddlers will be reevaluated every three years, if a change in medical status occurs or when he enters his detailing window again.

“I let my JAG Corps detailer know early on that we had this going on,” explained Rowley. “Once the conversation starts, and your detailing cycle starts up, just let them know up front.”

“I just got started with the program,” said Interior Communication Electrician 2nd Class Henrique Soares. “I’ve been in it a few months because of my son and I’ve received help with housing and orders. I also have the backing of Tricare, enlisted community managers and other counselors.”

Being new to the program can be overwhelming.

“Sailors can come see myself or HM1 Duran directly for help here on ship,” said Gaines. “Sailors can always rely on Fleet and Family, Military One Source and all of the command specialties such as DAPA (Drug and Alcohol Programs Advisor), CMEO (Command Managed Equal Opportunity) and FAP (Family Advocacy Program).”

“Get involved at all stages of the process, from screening to enrollment to continued care,” advises Soares. “Learn as you go by asking questions.”