Amendments to National Defense Authorization Act improve quality of life for Sailors on USS George Washington

USS George Washington
Posted at 5:12 PM, Jun 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-22 17:12:09-04

The House Armed Services Committee passed four of Rep. Elaine Luria's Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act amendments to improve the quality of life for Sailors assigned to the USS George Washington, as well as Sailors on any ships undergoing Refueling and Complex Overhaul.

The USS George Washington has been under scrutiny since seven Sailors assigned to the ship, which is currently undergoing RCOH at the Newport News Shipyard, died by suicide over the past year.

“In early May, I met and spoke with junior enlisted sailors and Navy leadership aboard USS George Washington, and it was clear that the status quo aboard ships undergoing RCOH is not acceptable,” Luria said. “My amendments passed today will improve quality of life for sailors aboard USS George Washington and across the Navy. As a 20-year Navy veteran, I will continue to fight for our servicemembers and ensure that they are being heard and supported while serving our country.”

The provisions authored by Luria address quality of life issues aboard USS George Washington, including housing, mental health and resiliency support, access to parking, manning hours and tour lengths. The four amendments will require the Navy to thoroughly examine support for sailors currently assigned to USS George Washington and other ships going through the RCOH process.

Details of Luria’s amendments can be found below:

USS George Washington Quality of Life 
The amendment examines parking, availability of housing, availability of mental health and resiliency support, and what recommendations or actions the Navy is taking to remedy concerns from sailors.

Feasibility Study on Housing and Parking at RCOH Locations 
The amendment directs a study on the possibility to expand housing and parking availability at RCOH and refueling sites to reduce the commute for sailors. The study would inspect current shortfalls and find solutions, including military construction and community partnerships, with public or private sector funding.

Notification of Manning of Afloat Naval Forces 
The amendment would require manning numbers for ships in nuclear refueling, defueling, and concurrent complex overhaul to be included in quarterly manning reports to the Congressional defense committees. Such reports are required by the Fiscal Year 2020 NDAA but do not include ship personnel numbers in refueling or RCOH.

Alternative Approaches to Manning for Ships Undergoing RCOH 
The amendment directs the Secretary of the Navy to conduct a study on possible changes into the process in which first-tour sailors are assigned to ships during RCOH. The study would explore the possibility of limiting first tour sailors to a maximum of two years onboard a ship during RCOH. Additionally, the study would identify the Navy’s plans regarding assignments for sailors that have been onboard ships in RCOH to maximize learning tour length onboard ships. The study would also examine time and cost of implementing various first-tour sailor career options regarding limiting tour length onboard ship in RCOH.

Related: Therapist weighs in on mental health impacts on servicemembers after USS George Washington Sailors' deaths