Sailors man the rails as USS George Washington (CVN 73) departs Fleet Activities Yokosuka, June 26. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Everett Allen)

PACIFIC OCEAN - The U.S. Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier departed Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan for its 2013 patrol, June 26.

This marks USS George Washington's (CVN 73) fifth patrol of the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility since relieving the now-decommissioned USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) in 2008.

George Washington set to sea with more than 5,000 Sailors and for approximately 900 of them, this was the first time they began a journey that would take them to parts of the world they never thought to visit before they joined the Navy.

"I'm excited to be able to go on such an adventure at only 19 years of age," said Hull Technician Fireman Ariel Peterson, from George Washington's engineering department. "I'm looking forward to our port visits, experiencing other cultures and earning my enlisted surface warfare pin."

For others, today will forever live in their memories as the day they took their ship to sea for the last time.

"Honestly, I'm a little sad," said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Andrew Williams, from George Washington's security department. "I love going out to sea and the experience of being a Sailor; I truly believe it's the last great adventure left in the world."

New and seasoned Sailors both kept their skills sharp during the ship's in-port maintenance period, but it's now time to put their training to the test in real-world operations.

"I'm excited to get my hands dirty up on the flight deck," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airman Moore, from George Washington's air department. "It's a little nerve-racking to know that I'll be up there, but I've learned how to properly respond to any situation. I know I'll get additional training and that's just going to make my shipmates and me that much better."

A new duty station can be an overwhelming experience, especially a floating city like a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier that operates from a foreign land. Williams has a piece of advice for those who have yet to adjust to this forward-deployed environment.

"Take one hour a day to breath, relax and get your priorities in order," said Williams. "Sit, think and write down what you need to accomplish. Once you set your priorities, you'll see that you can accomplish anything and everything you want in the Navy."

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.