USS George Washington captain moves on after putting out fires
April 12, 2009
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Eleven months ago, the aircraft carrier USS George Washington lay fire-stricken at sea, with $70 million in damages. Ten months later, she sits pierside in Yokosuka, fully operational and capable of rapid deployment.
Capt. John Haley, who took the helm of the aircraft carrier shortly after the May 22 fire, turned over command of the nuclear-powered ship to Capt. David Lausman in a ceremony Friday.
"He immediately began reestablishing the George Washington as a combat-ready unit," Rear Adm. Kevin Donegan, commander of Battle Force 7th Fleet and Carrier Strike Group 5, said of Haley during the ceremony.
Since last year’s fire, the ship has undergone extensive repairs, recertifications and intensive training.
Donegan said the result is a crew at the top of its game.
Haley is credited not only with revamping the ship but with reenforcing a sense of pride in the crew, the ship’s top enlisted sailor, Command Master Chief Jeffrey Clark Sr, said Friday.
On Wednesday, hundreds of sailors from the ship lined the streets of the pier to welcome Haley aboard the vessel one last time.
"It was a way for the crew to say thanks," Clark said. "He cares about the crew and has uniqueness about him that the sailors can relate to."
Clark said Haley also was named an honorary member of the George Washington’s chiefs’ mess.
"He cared about the crew," Clark stressed. "And anything he could do for them or their families was his number one priority."