A Royal Palm Beach native and 2016 Royal Palm Beach High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington.
Airman Christopher Fagen is an aviation electronics technician aboard the carrier stationed in Newport News, Va. As a Navy aviation electronics technician, Fagen is part of the watertight door team responsible for making sure all doors are operational.
Fagen credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Royal Palm Beach.
“Growing up, I learned a lot of patience, especially having a little sister,” Fagen said. “You have to have patience when serving in the Navy.”
Named in honor of the first president of the United States, George Washington, 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 256 feet wide.
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.
George Washington is currently undergoing a four-year refueling complex overhaul at Newport News Shipbuilding, a process that includes refueling the ship’s nuclear reactors and modernizing more than 2,300 compartments and hundreds of systems. The carrier is expected to leave the shipyard in 2021 and return to Yokosuka, Japan, as the Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier.
Fagen is playing an important part in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer said. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Fagen is most proud of earning Watertight Door Technician of the Month.
“I feel like sometimes the junior sailors don’t always get noticed, so it can really boost morale when you know your chain of command is paying attention,” Fagen said.
Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Fagen, who has military ties with family members who have previously served.
“My uncle was in the Army,” he said. “I wanted to get out of my hometown and have the opportunity to have my education paid for.”
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. Another 2,500 men and women form the air wing responsible for flying and maintaining the aircraft aboard the ship.
“Our ship’s motto is the Spirit of Freedom, and this motto is evidenced daily in the actions and character of our sailors,” said Capt. Glenn Jamison, commanding officer of George Washington. “The work they are involved in today is difficult, but is vital to national security, to our maritime strategy, and to our ability to provide compassion and aid when and where needed.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Fagen and other George Washington sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, providing the Navy the nation needs.
“It is cool to feel like I am making an impact with my life,” Fagen said. “I feel like I am doing something by giving back to my country.”