By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Beverly Lesonik
YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- A Los Angeles native, steered by his search for greater adventure and opportunity, now does the steering aboard the U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73).
Operations Specialist Seaman Anief Haughton, a 2011 graduate of Verbum Dei High School, was capped a master helmsman by Capt. Greg Fenton, George Washington's commanding officer.
"As a master helmsman, I man the helm for sea and anchor details, replenishments-at-sea, restricted waters, or when pulling in and out of a port," said Haughton.
Haughton is one of only four master helmsmen on the ship of 5,000 Sailors who are entrusted to steer the carrier in restricted maneuvering evolutions during George Washington's patrol.
"When I started in deck department, I wanted to become a master helmsman in order to distinguish myself from my peers," said Haughton. "It takes a lot of time and effort to get this qualification, and it is a qualification I was determined to get."
After joining the Navy out of high school, Haughton enlisted as an undesignated seaman where he began his year-long qualifications that he continued when he struck for operations specialist.
"Not including the basic helm qualifications, it took about 50-60 hours of being on the bridge during restricted maneuvering evolutions to become a master helmsman," said Haughton.
Although other deck seamen and quartermasters man the wheel on a 24-hour rotation, a greater skill is required when maneuvering close to land or coming alongside other vessels at 180 feet distances.
"My step father was in the Air Force and he was an influence for me to join the Navy, but I would have to say that I owe a lot of my success in becoming a master helmsman to my instructor, [Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class] Bruce Medeiros," said Haughton.
Medeiros, from Bristol, R.I., another master helmsman aboard George Washington, takes pride in Haughton and others he has instructed.
"After all that I taught him, I love to see him teaching others as well," said Medeiros. "It shows that he has a thorough knowledge of what he does in every situation behind the wheel."
By becoming a master helmsman, Haughton takes up the task to steer the ship for his captain. He has earned the confidence of his command and the trust that if anything were to happen, George Washington's helm is in good hands.
George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.