Sailors aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73) prepare to raise the emergency aircraft barricade during crew certification drills on the flight deck, May 15. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jacob I. Allison)

YOKOSUKA, Japan - The U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) conducted Crew Certification May 13-17 in preparation for its upcoming 2013 patrol.

Crew Certification is the process by which the immediate superior in charge ensures a ship is ready to proceed safely to sea with a trained and qualified crew following an extended repair period.

"We have drills and events that we're required to perform satisfactorily before the ship can go underway," said Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Callan, George Washington's training officer. "Afloat Training Group comes aboard to evaluate how well we perform drills before we go on fast cruise and sea trials."

The five-day on-ship inspection included a review of command training, required ship's bills and watch team replacement plans, and an evaluation of drills.

"During fast cruise, we function as if we're underway and demonstrate our ability to perform man overboard drills, and combat fires and flooding," said Command Master Chief Shaun I. Brahmsteadt, George Washington's command master chief. "We wrap it up with an abandon ship exercise to make sure everyone knows where to go. It's the first stepping-stone; we can't get underway if we don't pass Crew Certification."

Afloat Training Group (ATG) Western Pacific assessed the capabilities of George Washington's crew. ATG is comprised of experts in different rates, who use assessment check sheets and training assessment cards to rate the ship's operational readiness.

"George Washington was well prepared for Crew Certification," said Lt. Jerry Belmonte, ATG training liaison officer for George Washington. "In the months leading up to the certification, the crew executed many general quarters, mass casualty, damage control and flight deck drills. The repetition definitely helped instill that muscle memory within the crew."

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier 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 partners and allies in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.