By Mass Communication Specialist First Class (SW) Tal Reeve, USS George Washington Public Affairs
PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- USS George Washington completed, "Warfare Days", an incentive in which Sailors are earning their enlisted warfare qualifications, while underway in the Pacific Ocean April 18.
Every weekend, while George Washington is at sea, members of the crew meet in the mess decks and hangar bays to take part in the ship's "warfare days". During this time, enlisted Sailors can work on their Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) or Enlisted Air Warfare Specialist (EAWS) qualifications.
"These programs really help Sailors get a broad understanding of all the departments," said Senior Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) (AW/SW) Glen Newbins of Denver, Colo., George Washington's warfare program coordinator. "They learn how every department works together as one team; they learn how every one plays a vital role in the mission of the ship."
The ESWS program began in 1978 to recognize the qualifications and hard work of Sailors while aboard surface ships. During the programs inception it was mandatory for all second class petty officers and above. It has since become available to all hands.
"The more qualified Sailors are; the more experienced they are, the more valuable they are to their ship and the Navy," said George Washington's command master chief (AW/SW) Martin King.
Aboard George Washington, Sailors have 30 months to complete the qualifications after they sign up for the program. "But really it should take only 4-6 months," added Newbins.
For Machinist Mate Fireman (SW) Joshua Pearson from Vernon, Conn., it took less than a month to earn his EAWS pin.
"I studied a lot," Pearson said. "While standing trash watch for five hours a day, every day, I had plenty of time to crack open my books."
During George Washington's last "Warfare Day" he passed both the test and the board, only missing three questions out of the 60 the warfare board asked.
The process for earning a pin involves first getting a warfare specific professional qualifications standard (PQS) book. This is completed by frequenting specific departments and proving your knowledge to the experts within. Sailors then have to pass a 200 question test related to the program and prove themselves in a review board with several departmental representatives.
"I get a real feeling of personal pride when I see these guys complete their qualifications. I remember when I went through the program back in the day," said Newbins. "I want these guys to get that same feeling I had."
"I feel like there's nothing to worry about now that both of my pins are complete," Pearson said. "I'm definitely going to help my shipmates with their pins now. If I can do it, so can they."
George Washington holds "Warfare Days" every weekend while at sea and will continue to do so until all hands are qualified.
"It's not about a pin on the uniform or a pennant on a flag; it's about having highly qualified Sailors aboard George Washington," said King. "Personal, professional qualifications should always be in the forefront of every Sailor's mind."
George Washington has been underway since March 21, departing her forward-deployed port of Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka in response to the complex nature of the natural disaster that struck Japan, March 11.
George Washington is the Navy's single permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier, ensuring security and stability across the western Pacific Ocean.