A 2006 Collins Hill High School graduate and Lawrenceville, Georgia, native currently serves aboard one of the U.S. Navy’s most valuable and capable warships, one that can carry 5,000 Sailors and more than 70 warplanes anywhere in the world to defend America.
Navy Seaman Steven Young is a mass communication specialist aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, currently dry-docked in Newport News, Virginia.
A Navy mass communication specialist is responsible for photography, videography, journalism, graphic design, public affairs, and telling the Navy's story.
“What I like about my job the most, is the interaction with other sailors and rates,” Young said. “We get a small glimpse and insight into every other rate and job aboard the ship. It helps me understand other sailors a lot better.”
Often described by senior defense officials and policy makers as “4.5 acres of sovereign American territory,” aircraft carriers are the centerpiece of America's naval forces. In times of crisis, the first question leaders ask is: "Where are the carriers?" Navy officials state that the presence of an aircraft carrier has frequently deterred potential adversaries from striking against U.S. interests.
George Washington is presently undergoing a four-year refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) at Newport News Shipbuilding, a process that includes refueling the ship’s nuclear reactors and modernizing more than 2,300 compartments and hundreds of systems. The carrier is expected to leave the shipyard in 2021 and return to Yokosuka, Japan, as the Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier.
While underway, the ship carries more than 70 jets, helicopters, and other aircraft, all of which take off from and land on the carrier’s 4.5-acre flight deck. Four powerful catapults launch aircraft off the bow of the ship. After lowering a tail hook that protrudes from the rear of the airframe, fixed-wing aircraft land by snagging a steel cable called an arresting wire.
George Washington is currently one of 11 aircraft carriers in the U.S. Navy. It is the sixth Nimitz-class carrier and the fourth Navy vessel named after the first president of the United States. Measuring nearly 1,100 feet from bow to stern on the flight deck, the ship is longer than three football fields. It is 257 feet wide, 244 feet high and weighs nearly 100,000 tons.
Young credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Lawrenceville.
“Growing up, I learned the importance of persistence and hard work,” Young said. “Working in a civilian work environment helped shape the way I look at things in the Navy.”
"Our ship’s motto is the Spirit of Freedom, and this motto is evidenced daily in the actions and character of our sailors,” said Capt. Glenn Jamison, commanding officer of USS George Washington. “The work they are involved in today is difficult, but is vital to national security, to our maritime strategy, and to our ability to provide compassion and aid when and where needed. I am always impressed by the level of professionalism and expertise demonstrated by the men and women who serve aboard George Washington."
Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard George Washington. The crew of approximately 2,800 sailors keeps all parts of the aircraft carrier running smoothly, including everything from launching and recovering aircraft to operating its nuclear propulsion plant. Another 2,000 Sailors are assigned to the ship’s embarked air wing, flying and maintaining aircraft aboard the ship.
“Being on a carrier is like being on a floating city,” Young said. “There is a diverse community of people from all different walks of life. Knowing that a carrier is the forefront of our nation’s defense gives me a great of sense of pride in my job.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Young is most proud of receiving his surface and air warfare qualifications.
“Getting these qualifications gave me a great sense of pride and accomplishment,” Young said. “When I see someone with both qualification pins, it's evident they are knowledgeable in many different areas. It feels good that I was able to reach the personal goals that I set for myself.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Young and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, one that will provide a critical component of the Navy the nation needs.
“Serving in the Navy means giving back,” Young added. “Because of the sacrifices service members made before me for the freedom I’ve had, I believe I’m actually giving back to them as well as paying it forward to the younger generation who will take my place one day.”