By Ricky Burke, Navy Office of Community Outreach Photo By USS George Washington Public Affairs
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A 1999 Chamberlain High School graduate and Tampa, Florida, native currently serves aboard one of the U.S. Navy’s most valuable and capable warships, one that can carry 5,000 sailors and more than 70 warplanes anywhere in the world to defend America.
Navy Chief Petty Officer Myren Fripp is a boatswain’s mate aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, currently dry-docked in Newport News, Virginia.
A boatswain’s mate is responsible for the overall preservation and upkeep of the ship and driving small boats.
“I enjoy the amphibious part of my job that includes, bringing in small crafts into a well deck, landing helos, and working with cranes,” Fripp said.
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.
Fripp credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Tampa.
“I learned communication and the importance of diversity,” Fripp said.
"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.
“The amount of people you can help is the most rewarding part for me being on a carrier,” Fripp said.
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Fripp is most proud of being advanced to chief petty officer.
“Making chief in my rate is not easy to do,” Fripp said. “It gave me great satisfaction and a sense of pride accomplishing this goal.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Ugues 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 everything to me,” Ugues added. “I will never take the experiences from seeing the world, meeting new people, and everything I’ve learned like training and working with my hands for granted.”