For USS Kitty Hawk sailors, it’s all in the detailers
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE Japan — A massive lineup of 10- to 20-minute sessions helped determine what’s next for more than 2,000 sailors aboard the USS Kitty Hawk last week.
“What (station) did you get?” was the question of the week.
The responses were varied, as sailors found out where they’re headed — anywhere from the snows of Chicago to the sands of Iraq.
The Navy’s Bureau of Naval Personnel in Millington, Tenn., sent 24 detailers to Yokosuka for the express purpose of reassigning sailors affected by the carrier swap slated for this summer.
Less than a third of the ship’s crew, 940 sailors, will cross deck to the USS George Washington when it officially replaces the Kitty Hawk in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
The 46-year-old Kitty Hawk will head for decommissioning, and the nuclear-propelled George Washington will take its place in Yokosuka’s forward-deployed naval forces.
Another third are headed to shore billets in the United States, while the rest are going to sea-duty billets worldwide, including those going to Iraq and Afghanistan, Kitty Hawk spokesman Lt. Bill Clinton said.
Petty Officer 1st Class Paul Young opted to go to Afghanistan on a GSA, or global war on terrorism support assignment.
“I wanted to get it out of the way,” Young said, adding that the “career-enhancing decision” would count as sea duty and allow him to return to Japan to work ashore after a year.
BUPERS Deputy Director of Enlisted Assignments Capt. Ron Dodge said GSAs allow for more choice and predictability, instead of forcing sailors to interrupt an existing tour to go downrange.
A number of sailors volunteered for GSAs, he said.
Explaining those billets — and meeting with the sailors’ families — tended to take longer than the usual 10 to 15 minutes per appointment, Dodge said.
“But we don’t want anyone to leave saying, ‘Gosh, the detailer didn’t tell me what I’m getting into,’” Dodge said.
Having families there was positive, he said, as “they get the face-to-face treatment that is so much better than a long-distance phone call.”
The detailers’ visit is another part of the ongoing transition process that began in earnest last spring, said Kitty Hawk administrative officer Cmdr. Emil Salansky.
Preparing for the George Washington’s arrival and the Kitty Hawk’s decommissioning while staying ready for military action involves a balance, he said, adding that people will begin moving in phases starting in June and running through September.
Said Salansky, likening certain aspects of the transition to an adage: “There’s an old saying: How do you eat an elephant? And the answer is: one bite at a time.”