USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, At Sea (NNS) -- The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) has a unique team of specially trained Sailors, Fire Controlman (FC), who detect and engage threats with weapons systems aboard the ship around the clock.

The mission of FCs is to effectively and efficiently defend their destroyer, cruiser or carrier by utilizing the Ship's Self Defense System (SSDS).

"Most people who have asked me about my rate think we're engineers or we're firefighters, but we are so much more than firefighters," said Fire Controlman Second Class Miguel Moreno, from Homestead, Florida. "We combine key aspects of an array of different rates to operate our equipment to provide a multitude of fire control support whether it is offensive or defensive through an ever-changing plethora of missions. We're the rate that puts the war in war ship."

FCs maintain and operate many of the ship's weapons systems aboard, such as the Rolling Airframe Missile Systems, Sea Sparrow Surface Missile Systems, Guided Missile Weapon System and the Close-In Weapons System 20-mm gun mounts.

"Our weapons systems work within a network [SSDS] to detect and engage threats," said Fire Controlman Third Class Semaj Roots from Shreveport, Louisiana. "Through the entire detect-to-engage sequence we are able to make calculated decisions in how to protect the ship and the Sailors aboard."

Unlike their counterparts on cruisers and destroyers, FCs stationed aboard aircraft carriers have a different focus.

"We are primarily defensive on our carrier whereas the cruiser or destroyer is often used as an offensive weapon," said Fire Controlman Third Class Kevin Hodges, from Naperville, Illinois. "We are here to ensure that our ship stays safe in the face of any threat we face through a layered system of security."

According to Moreno, one of the most rewarding aspects of being an FC is being able to protect the ship around the clock.

"The job can be very demanding, but it can be rewarding," said Moreno. "Keeping the ship and all of our embarked shipmates safe while providing our aggressive style of support and being technical experts makes it impossible to envision myself doing any other job in the Navy."

George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

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