Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Gumieny is a personnel specialist aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, currently dry-docked in Newport News, Virginia.
As a Navy personnel specialist, Gumieny is responsible for pay and personnel transactions for all sailors aboard the ship. He also manages administration of incoming and outgoing personnel.
“I get the chance to see a sailor when he arrives and also when he leaves the command,” Gumieny said. “I enjoy seeing how they change during their tour and what they are taking away from it.”
Often described by senior defense officials and policy makers as “4.5 acres of sovereign American territory,” aircraft carriers are the centerpiece of America’s naval forces. In times of crisis, the first question leaders ask is: “Where are the carriers?” Navy officials state that the presence of an aircraft carrier has frequently deterred potential adversaries from striking against U.S. interests.
George Washington is presently undergoing a four-year refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) at Newport News Shipbuilding, a process that includes refueling the ship’s nuclear reactors and modernizing more than 2,300 compartments and hundreds of systems. The carrier is expected to leave the shipyard in 2021 and return to Yokosuka, Japan, as the Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier.
While underway, the ship carries more than 70 jets, helicopters, and other aircraft, all of which take off from and land on the carrier’s 4.5-acre flight deck. Four powerful catapults launch aircraft off the bow of the ship. After lowering a tail hook that protrudes from the rear of the airframe, fixed-wing aircraft land by snagging a steel cable called an arresting wire.
George Washington is currently one of 11 aircraft carriers in the U.S. Navy. It is the sixth Nimitz-class carrier and the fourth Navy vessel named after the first president of the United States. Measuring nearly 1,100 feet from bow to stern on the flight deck, the ship is longer than three football fields. It is 257 feet wide, 244 feet high and weighs nearly 100,000 tons.
Gumieny credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Plymouth.
“My parents taught me the importance of independence solving problems on my own and doing my best not to burden others,” Gumieny said. “This attitude helps me become a more independent sailor and ultimately makes a more productive workspace.”
“Our ship’s motto is the Spirit of Freedom, and this motto is evidenced daily in the actions and character of our sailors,” said Capt. Glenn Jamison, commanding officer of USS George Washington. “The work they are involved in today is difficult, but is vital to national security, to our maritime strategy, and to our ability to provide compassion and aid when and where needed. I am always impressed by the level of professionalism and expertise demonstrated by the men and women who serve aboard George Washington.”
Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard George Washington. The crew of approximately 2,800 sailors keeps all parts of the aircraft carrier running smoothly, including everything from launching and recovering aircraft to operating its nuclear propulsion plant. Another 2,000 sailors are assigned to the ship’s embarked air wing, flying and maintaining aircraft aboard the ship.
“Being on a carrier gives me a sense of scale on how massive the Navy really is,” Gumieny said. “Seeing the many sailors aboard and knowing I’m an integral part in ensuring their financial and personal security gives me a sense of pride.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Gumieny is most proud of receiving an award in boot camp which allowed him the opportunity to meet the commanding officer of Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, as well as two rear admirals.
“I was surprised, it was a very surreal experience,” Gumieny said. “Out of over a thousand sailors, I was selected to meet these high-ranking officers.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Gumieny and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, one that will provide a critical component of the Navy the nation needs.
“Serving in the Navy means to do your part in ensuring that the military runs as it should,” Gumieny added. “It also means sacrificing for the protection and liberty of our country. I appreciate the opportunity the Navy gives me to grow as a person, constantly improving, and getting better.”