Hackensack native serves aboard the floating airport at sea

By Tom Gagnier  

Seaman Melissa Crosby, of Hackensack, is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush. (Photo credit: Dusty Good)

A New Jersey native and 2011 Hackensack High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush.

Seaman Melissa Crosby is a personnel specialist aboard the carrier operating out of the Navy’s largest base.
As a personnel specialist, Crosby is responsible for human resource customer service and processing pay for the crew.
“There is energy that radiates throughout the hull, from bow to stern, of this ship,” said Crosby. “It’s the constant motion of people and things here.”
Named in honor of former President George H.W. Bush, the carrier is longer than three football fields, measuring nearly 1,100 feet.  The ship, a true floating city, weighs more than 100,000 tons and has a flight deck that is 252 feet wide.  Two nuclear reactors can push the ship through the water at more than 35 mph.
Powerful catapults slingshot the aircraft off the bow of the ship. The planes land aboard the carrier by snagging a steel cable with an arresting hook that protrudes from the rear of the aircraft.
As a sailor with numerous responsibilities, Crosby learns about life at sea serving in the Navy and the importance of taking personal responsibility while leading others while still using lessons learned from their hometown.
“Because New Jersey was so diverse, it is easier for me to get along and adapt to a diverse ship,” said Crosby.
Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard the carrier. Approximately 3,200 men and women make up the ship’s crew, which keeps all parts of the aircraft carrier running smoothly — this includes everything from washing dishes and preparing meals to handling weaponry and maintaining the nuclear reactors. Another 2,500 men and women form the air wing responsible for flying and maintaining more than 70 aircraft aboard the ship.
George H.W. Bush, like each of the Navy’s aircraft carriers, is designed for a 50-year service life. When the air wing is embarked, the ship carries more than 70 attack jets, helicopters and other aircraft, all of which take off from and land aboard the carrier at sea.
All of this makes the George H.W. Bush a self-contained mobile airport and strike platform, and often the first response to a global crisis because of a carrier’s ability to operate freely in international waters anywhere on the world’s oceans.
“I was second in my physical fitness assessment as an admin department female,” said Crosby. “That’s a pretty cool accomplishment.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Crosby and other George H.W. Bush sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“I find that I’m more goal driven and I’m better at finishing tasks since I started serving in the Navy,” added Crosby.

Tom Gagnier is a Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class assigned to the Navy Office of Community Outreach.

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