ATLANTIC OCEAN (WAVY) – A special guest on board the Norfolk-based aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is getting her sea legs.

Sage, a 3-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever, joined the crew on May 2.

The Ford is the first U.S. Navy ship to have an expanded operational stress control (EOSC) canine throughout deployment.

Sage is specially trained to help Sailors cope with stress associated with deployment.

She comes from the Virginia-based non-profit Mutts With a Mission.

Chaplain Genevieve Clark is Sage’s primary handler. Clark completed 120 hours of training with Mutts With a Mission. There are three additional volunteer handlers aboard the Ford helping take care of Sage.

“One of the positives of having Sage aboard the ship is her help in breaking down some barriers to utilizing mental, emotional, and spiritual resiliency resources,” said Clark. “Sailors are coming to more warrior toughness events and improving their morale through the vast network of resiliency resources the ship offers with Sage now present at these opportunities.”

Sage will be available to Sailors during ship-wide Morale, Welfare, and Recreation events. Commanding Officer Capt. Rick Burgess said the Sailors are excited about having Sage on the ship.

The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group (GRFCSG), along with more than 6,000 Sailors, is on a scheduled deployment in the Atlantic Ocean in support of interoperability and maritime security.