YOKOSUKA, Japan – The fleet chaplain for U.S. Pacific Fleet Command (USPACFLT), visited the U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), Aug. 2.
Capt. Brent Scott held a candid and open discussion with George Washington Sailors about the arduous challenges of forward-deployed life.
"What we wanted is an open and honest dialogue," said Scott. "The forward-deployed Navy has different expectations than the rest of the fleet, and we want to know what can the Pacific Fleet do better for the forward-deployed Sailor. We are focusing more on the people than the issue because the Sailor is the solution."
Fifteen Sailors volunteered to participate in the discussion and talked about various issues and concerns, including staying in the Navy, alcohol abuse, sexual assualt and suicide.
"I was pleased with the visit because our Sailors were mature, cogent and thoughtful, and they gave great responses," said Cmdr. Dan Mode, George Washington's command chaplain. "This visit was all about talking to the Sailors and getting feedback about the issues on their minds and I think we got a great result."
Scott's visit to George Washington marked one of the first stops of a tour that will take him across the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility, where he will conduct similar discussions with Sailors across the Pacific area of operations.
"The Navy invests in posters, commercials and training regarding some of these issues, but they aren't completely effective across the board," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Paul Settle, from Houston, one of the Sailors that participated in the discussion. "The Navy is trying to do something about these issues on a personal level by sending a representative to talk to us as human beings, not like subordinates, and by doing that the participation and education is considerably more effective."
By visiting fleet concentration areas within the forward-deployed naval forces, Scott can get a cumulative read on Sailors' concerns throughout the area and return them to the USPACFLT leadership.
George Washington is currently pier side in Yokosuka, Japan, and is making preparations to return to sea. George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region.