Forty-three Sailors assigned to the U.S. Navy’s under-construction aircraft carrier, the future USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), attended a ribbon-cutting in Newport News, Virginia, Oct. 1, establishing the ship’s crew and opening the building where they’ll work during the ship’s construction.
Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) John F. Kennedy, the second aircraft carrier in the Gerald R. Ford-class, is currently under construction at Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding.
“Today, we celebrate a truly historic event,” said Capt. Todd Marzano, commanding officer of the pre-commissioning unit (PCU). “It marks the grand opening of Building 608, where we will work out of until our spaces on the ship are ready [as well as] the official stand-up of our command. And I couldn’t be more excited, more motivated and more honored to be standing with you here today as we make naval history.”
On the count of three, the ribbon was cut by Marzano with the help of Cmdr. David Skarosi, Kennedy’s executive officer, and Master Chief Information Systems Technician Erica Barnett, Kennedy’s acting command master chief, in front of building 608.
“Today is a huge milestone,” Marzano said. “We are now one step closer to accomplishing our mission. We will deliver to the fleet a combat-ready aircraft carrier, manned with properly trained warriors, in support of our nation’s needs. We’ll have a lot of hard work ahead of us, a lot of challenges, and a lot of long days, but with our skills, talents, and dedication, we will be successful in building the best command in the United States Navy.”
Pride in the event and the command was shared by many in attendance, including Information Systems Technician 1st Class Chandler Ragland, the first Sailor to be assigned to the Kennedy.
“The legacy of this ship is going to be around for a very long time, and to be able to say that I was the first plank owner is incredibly rewarding,” said Ragland. “I get to tell my daughter and family members down the road that I was the first one.”
“These Sailors have been screened and handpicked due to their outstanding professional records,” said Marzano. “Big Navy realizes the tremendous challenge and hard work we have ahead of us in standing up an aircraft carrier. It’s great for me as the CO, because I get a true A-team of folks. One of my messages to the crew is the importance of ensuring that we establish a positive command climate and healthy culture from the start. The culture we create will be baked into the steel of the ship and will last for many, many years to come.”
The event concluded with the observance of colors and then a cake cutting.