Orlando Native Serves Aboard a Floating Airport at Sea


NORFOLK, Va. – An Orlando, Florida, native and 2006 Lake Mary High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush.  Petty Officer 1st Class Randy Cortes is a master-at-arms aboard the carrier operating out of the Navy’s largest base.

randy cortes
Petty Officer 1st Class Randy Cortes is a master-at-arms aboard the carrier operating out of the Navy’s largest base. Photo by Dusty Good

As a master-at-arms, Cortes is responsible for the physical security of the ship.

“My favorite part of this command is going out to sea,” said Cortes.

Named in honor of former President George H.W. Bush, 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.  Two nuclear reactors can push the ship through the water at more than 35 mph.

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, Cortes learns about life at sea serving in the Navy and the importance of taking personal responsibility while leading others while still using lessons learned from their hometown.

“My father taught me how to work with anybody which is very important in the Navy,” said Cortes.

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 more than 70 aircraft aboard the ship.

George H.W. Bush, 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 George H.W. Bush 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, Cortes and other George H.W. Bush sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“The Navy has made me a better person by dealing with high-stress situations in a constructive way,” added Cortes.