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Lugoff native serves aboard USS George H.W. Bush

Posted: April 14, 2015 3:57 p.m.
Updated: April 15, 2015 1:00 a.m.
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Shawn Greenlief

NORFOLK, Va. – A 2013 Lugoff-Elgin High School graduate and Lugoff native is serving on one of the world’s largest warships, the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Shawn Greenlief is a machinist’s mate aboard the Norfolk-based ship, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and one of only 10 operational aircraft carriers in the Navy today. Named in honor of former President George H.W. Bush, the carrier is longer than three football fields, at nearly 1,100 feet long. The ship is 252 feet wide and weighs more than 100,000 tons. Two nuclear reactors can push the ship through the water at more than 35 mph.

As a sailor with numerous responsibilities, Greenlief said he is learning about himself as a leader, sailor and a person. He also said it is an exciting time to be in the Navy, and serving aboard a ship is something he never expected to be doing just a couple years ago.

“Being on a carrier is a whole different world,” Greenlief said. “Shocking at first, but the Navy trained me so well, adjusting to my job was fast. My job helps to move the ship, electricity for the ship, and steam for the galleys. It takes a lot of teamwork to keep this ship running.”

Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard USS George H.W. Bush. Approximately 3,200 men and women make up the ship’s company, which keeps all parts of the aircraft carrier running smoothly -- this includes everything from washing dishes and preparing meals to handling weaponry and maintaining the nuclear reactors. Another 2,500 or so form the air wing, the people who actually fly and maintain the aircraft.

“I never cease to be impressed with the type and quality of work that goes on aboard this ship each day,” Capt. Andrew J. Loiselle, the carrier’s commanding officer, said. “The USS George H.W. Bush team is filled with highly qualified young adults -- in many cases, 19 and 20 years old -- and they’re out here running a complex propulsion system safely, serving as air traffic controllers, operating sophisticated electronics, launching and recovering aircraft when we’re underway, and keeping this floating city alive and functioning. I can’t express how proud I am to be a part of this team. They performed at the highest level, day in and day out during our recent nine-month combat deployment and are continuing to do so here at home. Their professionalism, dedication and commitment to excellence are second to none.”

USS George H.W. Bush, like each of the Navy’s aircraft carriers, is designed for a 50-year service life. When the air wing is embarked, the ship carries more than 70 attack jets, helicopters and other aircraft, all of which take off from and land aboard the carrier at sea. Powerful catapults slingshot the aircraft off the bow of the ship. The planes land aboard the carrier by snagging a steel cable with an arresting hook that protrudes from the rear of the aircraft. All of this makes the George H.W. Bush a self-contained mobile airport and strike platform, and often the first response to a global crisis because of a carrier’s ability to operate freely in international waters anywhere on the world’s oceans.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Greenlief and other USS George H.W. Bush sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.

“Since I got here, I’ve been in charge of a lot of things. I’m taking over leadership roles and learned how to use teamwork to get the job done,” Greenlief said.

 

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