Greetings from Newport News, Virginia. Here is the latest update on the WASHINGTON and her crew. With the Christening and launch behind us, the crew is now focused on preparations for sea trials. The Navigators are verifying their electronic charts and ensuring the gyros are in top condition. The Engineer's are making preparations for critical reactor plant operations after having testing all the steam systems. The Weaponeers will be conducting torpedo room operations shortly, moving shapes or simulated weapons. All these events will culminate in the crew certification and fast cruise. For those not familiar with crew certification and fast cruise, these events are the final Submarine Squadron certifications prior to sea trials where the crew simulates taking the ship to sea for trials.
Another key event in the coming months is certification for habitability. During the habitability certification, the boat is inspected to ensure berthing will support the crew and all the messing facilities (ovens, freezers, milk dispensers, etc.) are sanitary and working properly. After that time, the crew can move aboard. But not until the ship's networks are moved onto the boat. These days many cannot live without their smart phones. Similarly, we do much of our business with our computer systems.
The construction phase of the boat is coming to a close and system testing and validation is in full swing. During this phase the crew takes a larger role in the new construction process, operating and checking the systems to ensure they perform as designed. The crew continues to be a shining star in this process. Working alongside their shipyard counterparts, they are getting fully acclimated to the new technology and systems WASHINGTON and other Virginia Class submarines bring to the fight.
I would like to specifically highlight recent accomplishments of two sailors who visited Washington last November. EMN1 (SS) Perry Benzschawel, past sailor of the year, was recently selected for Commissioning as a Limited Duty Officer, to occur in 2017. Additionally, LT Eric Stromme was selected into the second cohort of the Secretary of the Navy's Tours with Industry program. He will be conducting his tour with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Additionally, Mr. and Mrs. Faber, representing the Bremerton-Olympic Peninsula Navy League, recently visited the crew and recognized the accomplishments of our current sailor of the year, STS1 (SS/DV) Mark Maynard. I cannot thank the Washington State community enough for exceptional support and recognition.