US Navy’s Newest Aircraft Carrier Enters Mediterranean Sea
The Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), transited the Strait of Gibraltar and entered the Mediterranean Sea for the first time, June 5.
George H.W. Bush was joined by guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun (DDG 103), guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64) and Spanish frigate ESPS Almirante Juan de Borbón (F 102) as it navigated the strait which separates Spain from Morocco by eight miles at its narrowest point.
“George H.W. Bush and the entire strike group did a remarkable job completing the first strait transit of the deployment,” said Lt. Adam Lane, officer of the deck for George H.W. Bush during the transit. “The team did well in preparing and executing the plan.”
Part of that plan involved stationing additional personnel around the ship for both navigational and force protection purposes. On the ship’s bridge, the navigation team was augmented by the navigation evaluator, who is required to be stationed anytime the ship is in restricted waters or within 30 miles of land. Around the edges of the ship, sentries stood various posts looking for low-flying planes or surface ships which might have posed a threat.
Although the waters of the strait are not considered particularly dangerous, navigation evaluator Lt. Jerry Ragadio said the additional traffic, particularly the ferries traveling between Morocco and Spain, required caution.
“The only way to get from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea is through this choke point,” said Ragadio. “We don’t always know who is good and bad.”
Chief Aviation Ordnanceman (AW/SW) Robert Flake, from the ship’s Weapons Department, said the Strait of Gibraltar is a great opportunity to practice for future choke points. As he stood on the bridge looking out at the African coast for the sixth time in his career, he said just experiencing the event is helpful since the atmosphere of the ship changes during such a maneuver, particularly for the newer Sailors.
“The senior Sailors are calm but the junior Sailors are excited because they have never seen anything like this before in their lives,” Flake said.
Those Sailors not on watch were able to enjoy a rare opportunity to see two continents at once, even though the sky was slightly hazy and winds reached 50 knots at one point. After clearing the majority of the shipping traffic, the ship was able to slow its speed and reduce the wind over the flight deck. Hundreds of Sailors quickly hurried there to get a photo in front of the famous rock of Gibraltar.
Quartermaster Seaman Floyd Magalit stood Quartermaster of the Watch in the ship’s bridge and had a birds-eye view of the transit.
“I’ve been on this ship for two years waiting to go somewhere and here I am,” Magalit said. “I can go home to my brother and tell him that I’ve been through the Strait of Gibraltar and seen Morocco. I just might re-enlist because of this.”
George H.W. Bush left its homeport of Norfolk, Va., on May 11, and entered the 6th Fleet area of responsibility on May 17.
George H.W. Bush Strike Group consists of USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 2 staff, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, Destroyer Squadron 22 staff, guided-missile cruisers Gettysburg and USS Anzio (CG 68), and guided-missile destroyers Truxtun and USS Mitscher (DDG 57) and Almirante Juan de Borbón.
Source: navy, June 10, 2011;