Lt. Courtney Johnson: About the PCU Gerald Ford

Sep 4, 2014 by

Lt. Courtney Johnson

Lt. Courtney Johnson

An Interview with Lt. Courtney Johnson: About the PCU Gerald Ford

Michael F. Shaughnessy

1) Lt. Johnson, first of all, where were you born, where did you go to High School and where did you go to college?

I was born in Wharton, Texas on March 10, 1979. I went to Brazos High School and graduated May 1996. I completed my Undergraduate at Colorado Tech, and I obtained my Master’s Degree from the University of Arkansas.

2) Did you attend college or a formal military school and training?

I attended college. A lot of my undergraduate was completed online. My graduate was all in class at the University.

3) How long have you been serving our country?

I joined the Navy Aug 31st 1998. I came into the navy enlisted as an AT (Aviation Electronics Technician). I completed my Masters and applied for my Commission. June 21, 2008 I was commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy. I have been serving for 16 years.

4) Now, let’s talk about the PCU Gerald Ford—I understand it is an aircraft carrier- but what does PCU stand for?

PCU stands for Pre-Commissioning Unit.

5) I understand that the PCU Gerald Ford is powered by nuclear reactors—what can you tell us about this and your training in this area?

I work for AIMD which is the I-level (Intermediate) maintenance. Our mission is to enhance and sustain the combat readiness and mission capability of supported activities by providing quality and timely material support at the nearest location with the lowest practical resource expenditure.

A few of our duties consist of; aeronautical components and related SE, calibration of designated equipment, aircraft components from stricken aircraft, and technical assistance to supported units.

6) I realize there are security issues- but what is spectacular about the PCU Gerald Ford ?

Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is the first new design for an aircraft carrier since USS Nimitz (CVN 68). The ship will be equipped with two newly-designed reactors and has 250 percent more electrical capacity than previous carriers. The improvements will allow the ship to load weapons and launch aircraft faster than ever before. Ford’s island, the flight command center for the ship, is completely redesigned. It incorporates the latest technology in flat panel array radar systems and dual band radar. The island is shorter in length, but stands 20 feet taller than previous aircraft carriers’ islands. It is positioned 140 feet further aft and three feet further outboard than its predecessors. The flight deck of CVN 78 has been completely redesigned and rearranged. The end result is a 25 percent increase in the ability to launch and recover aircraft missions.

7) About how many personnel are on board and how many aircraft?

Ship’s company will be just over 2,600 Sailors, but that number will be about 4,500 when Air Wing and support staff personnel are embarked. Initially Ford will be home to seven different types of aircraft, with a total of about 75.

8) What would you tell a typical high school student about serving in the Navy and serving our country from all kinds of threats and terror?

Serving in the Navy is a very humbling experience. The different countries I have seen have been amazing. I would have never been able to see the world like I have. The Navy has taught me about team work and what a true family means. Each person has a job and a place in the Navy. Every job is so important to our mission. When 9/11 happened we had less than 24 hours to get ready to deploy to defend our great Nation. That means packing up leaving your family behind and not knowing when and if you will return. It is not just a job – it is devotion to duty and to the world. Joining any branch of service means you will live each day knowing you put your life on the line so others can sleep soundly at night. I wouldn’t change anything for the world! The best decision I ever made was serving my COUNTRY.

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