NORFOLK – A 2010 Desert Hills High School graduate and St. George native is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the aircraft carrier PCU Gerald R. Ford –CVN 78.
Airman Apprentice Jared Pace is an aviation boatswain’s mate (handling) aboard the Ford-class aircraft carrier operating out of Norfolk, Virginia.
A Navy aviation boatswain’s mate (handling) is responsible for maintaining a state of readiness for firefighting and salvage operations on the flight deck.
“I really enjoy the drills we do as a part of my rate,” Pace said. “It gets me psyched for my job.”
Named after the 38th president, Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr., the Ford-class aircraft carrier is 1,092 feet long and hosts a wide array of quality-of-life improvements and state-of-the-art upgrades from a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.
New technology, including a new reactor plant, propulsion systems, electric plant, electromagnetic aircraft launch system, advanced arresting gear and integrated warfare systems enables the Navy to operate the ship with less manpower, contributing to the Navy saving approximately $4 billion in total ownership costs over the ship’s 50‐year life when compared to Nimitz-class.
“I love the people at this command,” Pace said. “The senior people here really care about you and want to see you succeed.”
Approximately 170 officers and 2,000 enlisted men and women make up the ship’s company, each highly specialized and operating in a number of jobs ranging from managing shipboard telecommunications networks and damage control systems to maintaining machinery and weapons.
With more than 40 new or modified systems, Ford sailors are unique in their training as many are among the first in the fleet to train on and operate the ship’s cutting edge technology. The crew continues to explore innovative training solutions as sailors prepare to take ownership of equipment and systems from contractors and shipbuilders.
“The true weapon system of this ship is the crew,” Capt. John F. Meier, the aircraft carrier’s commanding officer, said. “Our Sailors are earning quite an impressive reputation on the waterfront for our passion, enthusiasm and dedication. There is no doubt this is a crew that is well led, trained and wholly committed to bringing this great ship into service.”
While Ford has yet to conduct its first mission abroad, those serving aboard this ship will experience things that most sailors don’t get to, being a part of a the ship’s initial crew.
The crew must be highly motivated and adapt quickly to changing conditions to ensure the ship is ready to defend America at all times when called upon. There are high expectations for this ship and its sailors; however, the crew is thriving under pressure.
“The Navy has taught me to apply the idea of being ‘ship-shape’ to all aspects of my life,” Pace said.
As a member of the U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, Pace and other Ford sailors are part of the crew that will take this advanced war-fighting vessel on its first voyage to protect the United States on the world’s oceans.