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U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFFC)

Mission: Crew Health and Warfighter Resiliency aboard USS George H.W. Bush

by Petty Officer 2nd Class Novalee Manzella, USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) Public Affairs
17 September 2022

Sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) heave a line during an ammunition onload with the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE 13), Feb. 3, 2022.
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Feb. 3 2022) Sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) heave a line during an ammunition onload with the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE 13), Feb. 3, 2022. GHWB is operating in the Atlantic Ocean in support of naval operations to maintain maritime stability and security in order to ensure access, deter aggression and defend U.S., allied and partner interests. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Felix Castillo Reyes)
Sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) heave a line during an ammunition onload with the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE 13), Feb. 3, 2022.
220203-N-OL632-1119
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Feb. 3 2022) Sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) heave a line during an ammunition onload with the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE 13), Feb. 3, 2022. GHWB is operating in the Atlantic Ocean in support of naval operations to maintain maritime stability and security in order to ensure access, deter aggression and defend U.S., allied and partner interests. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Felix Castillo Reyes)
Photo By: Seaman Felix Castillo Reyes
VIRIN: 220203-N-OL632-1119
NAVAL STATION NORFOLK, Va. - In preparation for deployment, Dr. John Cordle joined leaders aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) to discuss the values of circadian watch bills aboard the ship, and to discuss similarities and challenges presented by aircraft carriers as opposed to cruisers and destroyers.

Cordle, the human factors engineer for Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic (COMNAVSURFLANT), is a retired Navy captain who held command of two ships during his career. He continues to dedicate his professional life to helping Sailors even after he took off his uniform. Today, he is a subject matter expert in crew endurance, surface ship safety, and the use of circadian watch rotation to improve operational performance. His priority is to find the most human-friendly way for Sailors to complete a mission.

George H.W. Bush reactor department and Cordle looked at the ship’s use of the circadian watch bill to find what works and what needs to be improved, and also what the surface and aviation community can learn from each other.

“This is about three things: the Navy and making it better, the George H.W. Bush, and it is about you,” said Cordle. “You are the only person that knows how tired you are. Better sleep will make you a better Sailor, it will make you a better person, it will help your physical and mental health, and understanding that this is a lifetime investment is another thing. As a leader I have a level of responsibility to you to not use you up and throw you away, it’s irresponsible.”

During his time aboard the George H.W. Bush – a command he served aboard during his career - Cordle recounted his failed first attempt at a circadian watch bill. The biggest issues he had were meal hours and unequal distribution of qualifications between the rotations.

“Another thing I didn’t do the first time was solicit input from the crew, I was the good idea fairy,” said Cordle. “If the Captain says so, you do it. That never works, but I didn’t know that. So I learned to listen to my people.”

Cordle acknowledged that George H.W. Bush has additional considerations as a surface platform with aviation and nuclear communities that are required to accomplish specific departmental missions that support both the ship’s and the carrier strike group’s missions. He remarked that what is good for one community on the ship, often has impacts on another so planning and teamwork are required to balance requirements.

“Crew endurance and resilience programs like circadian watchbills are not only important because they’re the right thing to do for our team, but they also make us a more lethal warfighting team,” said Capt. David-Tavis Pollard, commanding officer of George H.W. Bush. “The planning effort and commitment to work toward healthy solutions for Sailors and for command performance are not easy, and I am proud of the work our leaders are putting into these initiative.”

Chief Electrician's Mate Rubin Fletcher participates in a deadlifting competition hosted by the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation division in the hangar bay, Aug. 18, 2022.
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 18, 2022) Chief Electrician's Mate Rubin Fletcher, assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), participates in a deadlifting competition hosted by the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation division in the hangar bay, Aug. 18, 2022. George H.W. Bush provides the national command authority flexible, tailorable warfighting capability as the flagship of a carrier strike group that maintains maritime stability and security to ensure access, deter aggression and defend U.S., allied and partner interests. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Ryan Colosanti)
Chief Electrician's Mate Rubin Fletcher participates in a deadlifting competition hosted by the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation division in the hangar bay, Aug. 18, 2022.
220818-N-WD859-1481
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 18, 2022) Chief Electrician's Mate Rubin Fletcher, assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), participates in a deadlifting competition hosted by the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation division in the hangar bay, Aug. 18, 2022. George H.W. Bush provides the national command authority flexible, tailorable warfighting capability as the flagship of a carrier strike group that maintains maritime stability and security to ensure access, deter aggression and defend U.S., allied and partner interests. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Ryan Colosanti)
Photo By: MCSN Ryan Colosanti
VIRIN: 220818-N-WD859-1481

Below the deck plates, the nuclear community is known for long hours to ensure the carrier is able to complete the mission. On George H.W. Bush, reactor department is leading the charge on circadian based watch bills. Capt. Jason Deblock, who leads the department, and Lt. Cmdr. Kara VanSice, the ship’s reactor training assistant, work diligently with the rest of their team to create a schedule that is centered on sleep.

“This has been a significant team effort, and I am impressed not only with the work but with the results,” said DeBlock. “We continue to make incremental changes here and there since there is always room for improvement, though the feedback we are getting from our Sailors is that this has been a success for their quality of life and shows through team performance.”

One of the biggest challenges to the department’s schedule are mandatory drills. To build a watch bill that works for their crew, DeBlock and VanSice began their watch bills with a foundational period of protected sleep, followed by scheduled meetings, and finally they arranged watch times. After they implemented their changes, most Sailors alternate between standing one or two watches every day. That allows all watch teams to participate in the drills and remain ready.

“It was very exciting to have Dr. Cordle on board,” said VanSice. “His experience and interest in our revolutionized circadian rhythm is beneficial for our reactor Sailors and is paying dividends underway.”

The reactor department also worked closely with the ship’s training and supply department leadership, and the command triad to remove remaining boundaries to execute their plan.

“Your approach of taking a whiteboard and throwing down the protected sleep as the building block is totally upside down to anything anyone is saying in the surface force,” said Cordle. “I’ve been focusing on the watch bill, so to see it done like that is pretty cool.”

The biggest takeaway for the ship as a whole was to listen to each other and to question everything.

“Break the paradigms,” said Cordle. “Take things like meal hours. I don’t care if you are officer or enlisted when it comes to where you eat, as long as you eat. What are the barriers because it is a rule, law or regulation and what is a barrier because ‘that is the way we have always done it’? That is the most dangerous phrase in the Navy.”

Embracing a culture of quality sleep in the Navy will lead to a more effective Navy and more genuinely satisfied Sailors.

George H.W. Bush provides the national command authority flexible, tailorable warfighting capability as the flagship of a carrier strike group that maintains maritime stability and security to ensure access, deter aggression and defend U.S., allied and partner interests.

For more information about George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group, head to Facebook (www.facebook.com/csg10) and (www.facebook.com/ussgeorgehwbush). Instagram (www.instagram.com/ghwbcvn77). LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/carrier-strike-group-ten) and (www.linkedin.com/uss-george-h-w-bush-cvn77)


Terms:

CVN77
 
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