The ship is named after America’s first president, who believed fervently in the need for a strong navy.
Crew members, from those who served on commissioning to those who participated in the many deployments spanning the world’s oceans, joined in the celebration from near and far remembering their service aboard the sixth Navy Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.
“We say thank you to our crew past and present from our plank owners who first took our warship to sea, to our resilient fighters here on George Washington today,” said Captain Brent C. Gaut, commander of George Washington. “The years that have passed since the commissioning of our warship represent not only the days of hard work and dedication of all who have served on board, but are also a solemn marker of the joys, struggles, the sweat and sometimes even tears of every crew member who crossed the front.
In response to a social media post encouraging board owners to share their fondest memories of the ship, board owner Aviation Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Kent B. Dave, who served aboard George Washington from 1991 to 1994 , said her proudest moment was seeing her son. serve on the same ship 25 years after him.
Plank’s owner, Data Systems Technician 2nd Class Todd Meyer, shared in his response to the post that his fondest memory of his time on board was during the ship’s maiden deployment.
Just two years after her commissioning, George Washington embarked on her first deployment where she served as the backdrop off Portsmouth, England, for the 50th anniversary of the D-Day commemoration ceremony, before deploying to respond to rising tensions between Iraq and Kuwait in the Middle East. Between the years 1993 and 2000, the ship made several deployments to the 5th and 6th Fleet Areas of Responsibility (AORs).
In September 2001, George Washington was deployed to New York to provide air defense after the September 11 terrorist attacks. A piece of steel from the fallen Twin Towers remains on display in the Chiefs’ Mess as a solemn reminder of the ship’s contribution to the nation’s security. George Washington also played a role in the post-9/11 war in Afghanistan and the Iraq War, participating in Operation Enduring Freedom in 2002 and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004.
In 2008, George Washington, with Carrier Air Wing 17 (CVW-17) and Carrier Strike Group Eight embarked, departed Norfolk for its new homeport of Yokosuka, Japan, to become the world’s first powered aircraft carrier nuclear to be deployed forward. During the same transpacific voyage, tragedy struck when a fire broke out on board the ship. George Washington was redirected to San Diego following firefighting efforts at sea to undergo repairs. The ship left San Diego in August and arrived in Yokosuka in September.
“When you look at what this ship has accomplished in her first 30 years, you have to look at every sailor who at every milestone in the ship’s history has left a legacy that we carry on today,” said Command Master Chief Christopher. R. Zeigler. “None of the ship’s many successes would have been possible without the men and women who were sworn to protect our nation no matter where the ship was deployed.”
Throughout 2009, the George Washington made several trips to the Pacific and Indian Oceans and took part in various operations with the Allied navies. In 2010, the ship conducted operations with the Republic of Korea Navy and Air Force in the Sea of Japan.
Following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Fukushima, Japan, George Washington left Yokosuka as a precautionary measure to ensure sustained preparedness in support of Japan and to assist in disaster relief efforts. In 2013, the ship and air wing deployed to the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan to expand search and rescue operations, provide medical care, and deliver supplies using its shipboard helicopters.
In July 2015, George Washington participated in Talisman Saber, an exercise attended by approximately 30,000 US and Australian military personnel. The New Zealand and Japanese Defense Forces also took part in the exercise for the first time.
The ship then returned to San Diego to complete the first-ever three-carrier hull swap involving 9,000 sailors and the aircraft carriers USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 72). After leaving San Diego en route to Virginia, George Washington was diverted to serve alongside the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) to provide humanitarian aid to Haiti after Hurricane Matthew.
George Washington entered drydock at Newport News Shipbuilding in August 2017 to begin refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH), becoming the sixth Nimitz-class carrier to achieve this major mid-life milestone. After years of upgrades, renovations and testing, the ship is expected to complete RCOH in 2023.
“Thirty years is a milestone in the history of a warship, but for George Washington it is only the beginning of our next chapter,” Gaut said. “The crew aboard the George Washington look forward to completing our shipyard period and putting our warship back to sea to protect and serve this great nation.”