Sailors aboard the Navy's newest Ford-class aircraft carrier, Pre-Commissioning Unit John F. Kennedy (JFK) (CVN 79), celebrate the one-year mark of establishing a ship’s crew and officially becoming a command.
The one-year anniversary serves as a day to reflect on all the command has accomplished throughout the last year.
“I am extremely proud of the team we are building and how far the command has come in a relatively short period of time.” said Capt. Todd Marzano. "The crew’s incredible dedication and hard work have enabled many historic milestones over the past 12 months, and it’s an absolute honor to serve as the ship’s first commanding officer.”
The crew is growing every day. The diverse group of experiences has given JFK the ability to face modern problems with the best and brightest. "The crew has grown so much and has come a long way," said Information Systems Technician 1st class Chandler Ragland, one of PCU JFK's first Sailors. "It's exciting to see the crew grow. It seems like someone new joins our team every day, bringing their prior experiences with them to help our team grow, ultimately bettering the crew as a whole."
"Being part of the first crew and seeing the ship and crew grow is pretty fun and interesting," said Personnel Specialist Seaman Apprentice Christopher Elzner. "When I got my orders in boot camp, I had no idea what a PCU was. It isn't what I expected because it isn't the traditional Navy experience I expected when I joined the Navy earlier this year. I am grateful for being part of team JFK because I get to grow with the ship and learn as much as I can to become a better Sailor and leader."
This past year has been a rewarding experience for Sailors of all ranks. "It has been so nice to see everyone take control of the respective role in the command and help it grow," said Senior Chief Legalman Rasha Shankle. "Being at a PCU can be a big culture shock at first because we are the foundation of the crew, the building requires policies and setting the standard for all the Sailors coming to the JFK."
Through hard work and commitment to the ship's namesake, the crew has set a standard of excellence for all future Kennedy Sailors to achieve and exceed.
"We have become a self-sustaining force," said Shankle. "When we started, we worked with the Ford crew and used their experience to help guide us. Now we are working together as a JFK team to accomplish our mission."
PCU John F. Kennedy has been under construction at its Newport News location since 2015 and continues to make preparations for its commissioning. CVN-79 is the second aircraft carrier to honor John F. Kennedy for his service to the nation, both as a naval officer and as the 35th President of the United States.