Fort Lauderdale Native Serves Aboard a Floating Airport at Sea

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James Green, Navy Office of Community Outreach
Photo By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Heidi Cheek

SAN DIEGO – A Fort Lauderdale, Florida, native and 2015 South Plantation High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, which recently returned from a 7-month deployment.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Philip Powell is an aviation boatswain’s mate (equipment) aboard the carrier operating out of San Diego. A Navy aviation boatswain’s mate (equipment) is responsible for supervising the safe launching of the aircraft.

Powell credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Fort Lauderdale.

“It’s important to always have pride in what you are doing,” said Powell. “Taking pride in what you are doing motivates you to do better.”

The crew spent the deployment supporting Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel, as well as maritime security cooperation efforts in the Arabian Gulf and Pacific Ocean.

The ship transited more than 56,000 miles, and made five port calls in four different countries, to include the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Republic of Singapore, and the Republic of the Philippines, as well as port calls in Hawaii and Guam.

“This deployment was a learning experience,” said Powell. “I had to learn how to lead a group of people filled with many different personalities.”

Named in honor of former President Theodore Roosevelt, 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.

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, Powell learns about life at sea serving in the Navy and the importance of taking personal responsibility while leading others.

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 the aircraft aboard the ship.

“What Rough Riders have accomplished during this deployment was truly inspirational,” said Capt. Carlos Sardiello, commanding officer Theodore Roosevelt. “Earning the privilege to be called the best one day at a time; every sailor and Marine made what is very difficult look easy. We are immensely proud of the hard work and dedication that was exhibited as well as the sacrifices of the families.”

Theodore Roosevelt, 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 Theodore Roosevelt 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.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Powell and other Theodore Roosevelt sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“Serving in the Navy has given me the opportunity to represent not only my family but my country too,” added Powell.