US Navy Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Bryan Valek, USS George HW Bush (CVN 77) Public Affairs
The crew aboard the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush (CVN 77) prepare to launch an F / A-18 Super Hornet off its deck during a recent flight deck certification.
The weapons safety officer inside the aircraft is Lieutenant Natalie Shifflet of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 103. The ship’s reactors provide the steam needed to launch a jet. One of the reactor watch officers, Lt. Monica Shifflet, closely monitors the build-up of steam in one of the factories below the decks. The catapult is triggered and the plane is launched. Monica’s factory has just supplied the power needed for Natalie’s plane to take off.
The Shifflet twins, one assigned to the jet engine department aboard GHWB and the other assigned to VFA-103 “Jolly Rogers”, part of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, work together to prepare the ship and l air wing on deployment.
âI guess it all started when I was looking for universities,â Monica said.
While applying to the Naval Academy, Monica discovered the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program. She and her sister both applied to the program and were accepted into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ROTC program.
While at MIT, Monica majored in nuclear science and engineering, and Natalie majored in materials science and engineering.
âFour years later, we were both graduated and commissioned in the US Navy,â Natalie said.
After their commissioning, the twins had very different paths ahead of them. Monica was assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) for two years. Then, after completing her first sea excursion, she went to the Nuclear Power School and Nuclear Prototype in Goose Creek, South Carolina. Monica was assigned to GHWB after the completion of the nuclear pipeline.
âI can’t believe I’ve only been here a year and seen how far the ship and her crew have come since they’ve been in the yards,â said Monica.
While Monica was here for GHWB’s planned incremental mooring availability period and helped get the ship out of the Norfolk shipyard, Natalie was training to become a naval aviator.
After graduating and commissioning, Natalie traveled to Pensacola, Florida for flight training. After earning her golden wings, she reported to a Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) at Naval Air Station Oceana, the final leg of the Navy’s flight officer training pipeline.
After completing FRS, Natalie was seconded to her first squadron.
âWhen I found out which squadron I was going to, I texted my sister and thought, ‘Hey! I have VFA-103, âNatalie said.
âI was on duty, had just left the watch and went to dinner in the wardroom when I saw his text,â Monica said. âI just said to a few people in my department, ‘Guess what? My sister arrives at the ship, âto which they immediately began to applaud. It made me smile. “
As part of the JACKPOT team (CVN 77 and CVW-7), the twins began working towards the same mission. One supports it from the sky and the other from the belly of the ship.
Being together to work towards similar goals, the twins couldn’t help but recall their childhood.
âGrowing up with a twin was nice because you already had someone there, someone who shared the same hobbies and interests,â Natalie said. “We didn’t know we would share the same mission serving side by side in the US Navy.”
The CVW-7 squadrons are Strike Fighter Squadron 143 “Pukin ‘Dogs”, Strike Fighter Squadron 103 “Jolly Rogers”, Strike Fighter Squadron 86 “Sidewinders”, Strike Fighter Squadron 136 “Knighthawks”, Electronic Attack Squadron 140 “Patriots”, Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 121 âBluetailsâ, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 5 âNightdippersâ, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 46 âGrandmastersâ.
GHWB is at Naval Station Norfolk for routine maintenance before returning to sea.