Story by SN Jack Lepien on 03/26/2019NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (March 20, 2019) Refueling complex overhaul (RCOH), a comprehensive four-year renovation process, is designed to deconstruct an aircraft carrier into its basic components and then build the ship back up stronger than it ever was. As the ship becomes stronger, her Sailors grow stronger too, many of them gaining valuable experience aboard operational ships throughout the fleet.
One of the latest Sailors to be forged by the sea is Cryptologic Technician (Technical) Seaman Apprentice Angel Anthony Morales, from Ventura, California, a Sailor assigned to the intelligence department of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). Morales recently completed a temporary assigned duty (TAD) period with the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55).
Leyte Gulf went underway last month for composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX), an activity that builds up the knowledge and abilities of the crew while testing the limits and readiness of the ship herself.
"I went out to sea to learn, to train, and I'm better because of it," said Morales. "I learned a lot, and I feel much more comfortable in my rate now."
Morales said that his working schedule was strenuous, but not impossible.
"They had us working in shifts, where we would stand watch for six hours, do maintenance for six hours, and then have 12 hours to get [qualifications], sleep, and relax," said Morales. "I stood watch over an anti-ship missile defense system, and that's a very serious task."
Morales also talked about the benefits of being at sea.
"Although RCOH is an important task, it was nice to be out, experiencing my rate," said Morales. "I enjoyed the opportunity to get hands-on training in a way that you can't get anywhere else."
Morales spent his time off getting qualifications.
"When I wasn't working, I was working on my quals," said Morales. "My work center supervisor, CTT1 Beldner, would always tell us how important quals are."
The work center supervisor of the operations technical division aboard Leyte Gulf, Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 1st Class Leslie Beldner, from St. Louis, said that Morales became qualified in many different areas.
"Morales filled a very versatile role on the ship," said Beldner. "Not only did he do his job as a CTT, but he was always the first to help out in other areas, such as the repair locker."
Beldner also said that Morales helped out the ship as a whole with his yearning for training.
"He's a real go-getter," said Beldner. "His determination and fast learning kept him constantly getting quals. His drive and potential benefitted the ship by filling gaps in the manning of the ship."
Overall, going underway and performing duties as a Sailor is something all Sailors should experience, in Morales' opinion.
"To anyone who's on the fence about going on temporary duty: go," said Morales. "There's no better way to gain more valuable training as a Sailor in the United States Navy."
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