Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christian B. Martinez
NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND -USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) successfully completed its Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) evaluation, July 23.
The crew earned an INSURV figure of merit score of 88 percent-the highest achieved by an aircraft carrier in five years, according to Lt. Cmdr. Todd Nelson, Stennis’ INSURV officer.
“Since the last Stennis deployment in 2013, over 3,000 amazing Sailors completed a 16-month dry docked maintenance period, sea trials, multiple carrier qualification underway periods and a tailored ship’s training availability to ready both ship and crew for return to the fleet,” said Capt. Mike Wettlaufer, Stennis’ commanding officer. “Over the past year, we have also been ramping up for INSURV by expanding knowledge and capability to maintain, operate, sustain and repair our ship. I could not be more proud of their accomplishments.”
“The focus and effort put forth to execute this vital evolution is eye watering and a testament to the strength, character and readiness of this crew as we prepare for our final pre-deployment training and certification.”
Approximately 200 officers, enlisted Sailors and civilian technical inspectors administered the evaluation, which officially began July 21 at 4 a.m. Stennis’ INSURV team organized a schedule of events containing information on demonstration teams and inspection times, covering a broad spectrum of equipment, spaces and ship systems to be thoroughly examined.
“INSURV is one of the most rigorous and comprehensive inspections the crew will face; they have met the challenge head-on,” said Senior Chief Engineman Robert Zantow, one of Stennis’ assigned INSURV coordinators, from Gillette, Wyo. “Sailors from every department on the ship have coordinated with each other to prepare the ship for this test. From the planning stages more than a year ago to carrying out the inspection itself, the John C. Stennis Sailors-from the commanding officer down to the most junior fireman aboard the ship-have worked together to get Stennis ready.”
Inspectors evaluated 473 line items from the INSURV schedule of events over the course of three days.
“Preparing for INSURV was a complete change of lifestyle where you not only have to learn your rate but the ship as a whole,” said Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 3rd Class Loren Hilton, from Albany, Ore. “It was very rewarding to see the fruits of our teamwork coming together even though we are all from different workcenters with vastly different lifestyles. Those perspectives are what helped us be successful during INSURV.”
INSURV has been around for more than a century. In 1882, Congress established a law that stated a Board of Naval Officers would inspect every Navy ship and report to the Secretary of the Navy on its fitness for service. Inspections have been performed ever since, assessing ships at their birth, every five to six years following, and for their end-of-life surveys. As a result, Sailors received a deeper knowledge of Navy standards required for deployment as ship designs evolved over time.
Now that INSURV is complete, Stennis is scheduled to participate in Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) with the John C. Stennis Strike Group.
For more news from USS John C. Stennis visit or 74.

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christian B. Martinez

NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND, Calif. – Rain drizzled upon the flight deck as Capt. Mike Wettlaufer, USS John C. Stennis’ (CVN 74) commanding officer, promoted 29 Sailors through the Meritorious Advancement Program (MAP) during an all hands call, July 18.

Inclement weather and rolling thunder did little to dampen the spirits of the newly-advanced third, second and first class petty officers, who assumed their rank and pay immediately after the ceremony.

“The Sailors selected for advancement demonstrated consistently high standards, positive attitudes and determination. Their ability to lead shipmates to success clearly indicated they were already serving at the next level and earned the opportunity for more responsibility,” said Wettlaufer. “We know they will continue to expand leadership and technical skills as they strive for excellence in the next phase of their Navy careers.”

The Command Advancement Program, established in 1978, was renamed to MAP in October 2014. MAP allows command leaders to recognize and reward Sailors for their superior job performance. After much review and deliberation, MAP packages are sent to the commanding officer, who advances the top Sailors already performing work at the next paygrade.

“When the Captain actually called my name, words could not even describe how excited I was,” said Logistics Specialist 1st Class Eric Gain, from Post Falls, Idaho. “After so many years of taking exams and doing everything I can to already fill the shoes of a first class petty officer, to be one of the two second classes selected to advance is just amazing.”

Sailors selected for immediate advancement are no longer required to take the advancement exam, freeing up time that would otherwise be used for studying. Instead, that time will be allocated toward learning the responsibilities associated with their new ranks.

“As a third class petty officer I know there will be more duties and leadership opportunities, but I am up for the task,” said Ship’s Serviceman 3rd Class Richard Schenk, from Clio, Mich. “It will be a chance for me to collect more qualifications and become a better, well-rounded Sailor.”

This marks the first occasion where Stennis has promoted Sailors under MAP, which is covered in Navy administrative message (NAVADMIN) 141/15. Commanding officers will set the program’s performance standards by selecting their best Sailors while aligning with the September exam cycle, allowing MAP to be factored in when determining advancement quotas, minimizing over promotion and ensuring future advancement opportunities exist.

The MAP season, from July 1 to September 30, is the only time when commands can meritoriously advance eligible Sailors.

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Jiang

PACIFIC OCEAN – Waste management at sea isn’t as easy as putting out a bin on garbage day or taking trash to the nearest dumpster. If not taken care of properly rubbish can lead to unsanitary living conditions on the ship and cause environmental harm.

The unenviable but vital job of processing trash for USS John C. Stennis’ (CVN 74) crew falls to a handful of their shipmates.

“The ship produces a lot of trash; it is our job to process and dispose of it in accordance with both Environmental Protection Agency and Navy regulations,” said Machinist Mate 2nd Class Brandon Longmire, from Bridge City, Texas. “It’s not the most glorious job out there but someone has to do it.”

Waste management is a work center in Engineering Department’s Auxillaries Division and is made up of six machinist’s mates and temporarily assigned duty (TAD) Sailors. The machinist’s mates maintain the equipment and provide leadership to the TAD Sailors working in one of Stennis’ four waste processing rooms as trash processors.

“Each trash bag is anywhere from 10 to 40 pounds and we can take 15 to 25 bags at the end of every meal,” said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Nicholas Long, from Lancaster, Penn. “We process between 200 to 300 pounds of food a day.”

That 300 pounds of food a day, in addition to the rest of the trash Stennis produces, falls into one of four waste categories: pulpables, burnables, metals and plastics. Each category has an appropriate waste processing room where it is processed in an appropriate manner.

Food waste is pulped and discharged once the ship is farther than three nautical miles from shore.

Burnables include paper, cloth, rags and wood, and are burned in the incinerators in waste rooms five and six once the ship is more than 12 nautical miles from shore.

Plastic materials are shredded and melted into pucks, then held onboard until they can be disposed of at the next port call or replenishment at sea.

Metals and glass are shredded and thrown overboard in a burlap sack to biodegrade on the ocean floor.

There are items classified as unprocessable and held on the ship until they can be properly disposed of at an on-shore facility. These include Styrofoam, Plexiglas and hazardous waste.

“It’s important to sort your trash … for the environment,” said Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Julio Garcia, from Red Rock, Ariz. “It can break our machines if you put the wrong type of trash in.”

Two or three TAD Sailors at a time stand watches in each trash room for 13-hour shifts. There is always someone manning the trash room.

“It is our TAD personnel who are the real heroes on the front lines,” said Longmire. “We’re just thankful for the dumpsters on the pier.”

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Jiang

PACIFIC OCEAN – The crew of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) is making final preparations for an assessment by the Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) beginning July 21.

The inspection, which takes place once every five years, will assess Stennis’ material condition using known Navy standards to determine readiness in multiple areas.

“The biggest thing I can say for the crew is know your equipment, know how to operate your equipment, know basic navy standards for the material condition of your spaces and strive to exceed those standards,” said Lt. Cmdr. Todd Nelson, from Orlando, Fla., Stennis’ INSURV coordinator.

Stennis began preparing for INSURV nearly a year ago. Department heads and work center supervisors learned what the inspection would entail and Sailors were designated as INSURV coordinators for different departments. Demonstration teams formed to show that the crew knew how to properly use the equipment they’ve been maintaining.

“We’ve put in a lot of hours bettering the material condition of the ship and confirming the proper operation of the ship through demonstrations,” said Nelson. “I feel confident that we will perform well.”

During this period, Stennis Sailors designated as INSURV trusted agents logged 18,194 material discrepancies that have gradually been corrected throughout the year. As of July 14 there were only 1,721 remaining.

“It’s a little overwhelming at first,” said Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Mechanical) 3rd Class Timothy Lium, from Seattle.

Lium was responsible for ensuring that the abandon ship life preservers for the entire ship were INSURV ready and trained the crew on how to properly perform maintenance on them.

“I’m definitely proud of the crew,” said Lium. “They started to realize that it’s about the ship and not them. It really showed that people actually cared about getting it done and showed improvement and pride in their work.”

INSURV is scheduled to begin at 4 a.m. on Monday. The inspectors will check 473 line items on the schedule of events and observe 1,134 demonstrations.
Line items include tasks as small as ensuring the proper operation of a fire pump and larger scale events such as detect-to-engage demonstrations to test proper usage of the ship’s self-defense systems.

A team of five assistant INSURV coordinators, Lt. Shannon Shaw, Senior Chief Engineman Robert Zantow, Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 1st Class Joseph Graves, Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Shelby Eby and Electronics Technician 2nd Class Aubrie Strasters, will support Nelson and coordinate all of the inspection items.

Stennis is scheduled to complete INSURV on July 23 and will then focus on completing the Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX).

COMPTUEX tests the mission readiness of deployable assets and focuses on improving integrated unit capabilities, better preparing warfighters to operate forward.

“INSURV and COMPTUEX are both critical milestones following a major maintenance period as we prepare for deployment,” said Capt. Mike Wettlaufer, commanding officer of Stennis. “Once completed, we expect to be certified and ready to protect American interests on the waters of the world.”

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ignacio D. Perez

PACIFIC OCEAN – Thirty-five Sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) competed in a Morale, Welfare and Recreation sponsored pullup contest, June 19.

Participants were given as much time as they needed to perform as many overhand pullups as they could without touching the floor.

“These contests are awesome because not only do they push people competitively, but it also brings everyone together and helps with morale,” said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Devi Laidley, from Philadelphia.

Laidley won the female category with 15 pullups and Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman Taven Olson, from Edmonds, Wash., won the male category with 35 pullups.

“Even though pullups are not a part of the Navy’s physical readiness test, it’s important to be physically well balanced,” said Jonathan Ciecko, Stennis’ Fit Boss. “I feel these competitions help promote fitness and an overall healthier lifestyle on the ship.”

Ciecko said future events will include squat, press, and deadlift contests. They will be done in addition to the range of afloat fitness activities already offered, which includes Zumba, yoga and spin classes.

“My goal for these contests is to show everybody that there is a healthy activity out there for everyone and help them understand that in the end you feel better because of it,” said Ciecko.

For more news from USS John C. Stennis visit or 74.

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ignacio D. Perez

PACIFIC OCEAN – USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and JDS Kashima (TV-3508), from the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF), conducted a replenishment-at-sea with the USNS Yukon (T-AO-202), June 17.

Command Task Force 33 (CTF-33) coordinated Stennis’ and Kashima’s simultaneous replenishment-at-sea. Along with Kashima, two other Japanese vessels, JDS Shimayuki (TV-3513) and JDS Yamagiri (DD-152), were in formation after leaving San Diego earlier this week for Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) 2016 planning.

“[Replenishment-at-sea] starts with a longer range plan where we take into account how much fuel we are going to need for our aircraft and when we are going to need it,” said Cmdr. Carl Whorton, Stennis’ strike officer, from Covington, Wash. “It happened to be a coincidence that the Japanese vessels had to refuel with the Yukon at the same time.”

Operations like this, where the U.S. Navy coordinates with other nations, fit into a larger overall naval picture, helping the U.S. strengthen ties with its allies.

“Our abilities to operate alongside each other comes from the confidence developed during encounters like we had today,” said Capt. Mike Wettlauffer, Stennis’ commanding officer. “The more you work together, the more shared understanding you have.”

Stennis is scheduled to participate in RIMPAC, the world’s largest international maritime training exercise, in summer 2016.

For more news from USS John C. Stennis visit or 74.

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Jiang

BREMERTON, Wash. – USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and John C. Stennis Strike Group (JCSSG) completed Fleet Synthetic Training-Joint Exercise (FST-J), June 5 while in their homeport of Bremerton, Wash.

The weeklong exercise saw JCSSG working together with Navy, Army, Marine and Air Force elements, as well as foreign militaries to complete several simulated scenarios based on real-world events.

“It shows that we are smarter about what activities we must do at sea and what types of training we can simulate ashore,” said Rear Adm. Ron Boxall, commander, John C. Stennis Strike Group. “We get better training value overall and more bang for our underway buck because we will start at a higher level and theoretically should perform much better at sea.”

For seven days JCSSG staffs and units practiced planning and integrating the many ships and aircraft that make up the strike group, all in a virtual joint battlespace.

“FST-J increased our warfighting capabilities and positioned us to gain maximum benefit from follow-on integrated training and certification events, leading to maximum readiness for our upcoming deployment,” said Capt. Robert Chadwick, commodore of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21, part of JCSSG.

The exercise was run by Tactical Training Group Pacific (TACTRAGRUPAC), based in San Diego, and brought all participating assets from around the world together on a virtual network.

“FST-J did a great job integrating the warfighting commanders into the carrier strike group and really highlighted the importance of the striking power that we had,” said Capt. Richard Brophy, commander of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, part of JCSSG.

Representatives from TACTRAGRUPAC arrived on Stennis prior to the start of the exercise to install the necessary equipment to run the scenarios on Stennis’ combat systems.

“We can do it in the classroom, but this is on our ships, on our aircraft carrier, using the spaces that we will actually be using in our operations overseas,” said Boxall.

Now that the simulated exercise is complete, Stennis and JCSSG are ready for the next phase in pre-deployment training, Composite Training Unit Exercise, or COMPTUEX, where the whole strike group will be underway.

“Part of this exercise is to build understanding and trust,” said Boxall. “I am very proud of our ability to work together across all domains, to include the joint players. I think we are ready to safely and effectively start a solid advanced phase of training underway prior to deployment.”

For more news from USS John C. Stennis and JCSSG visit or 74.

John C. Stennis Strike Group Completes Fleet Synthetic Training Exercise-Joint.docx

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christian B. Martinez

BREMERTON, Wash. – Sailors stationed aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and throughout the Northwest region participated in Bremerton’s 67th Annual Armed Forces Day Parade May 16.

Capt. Kavon Hakimzadeh, Stennis’ executive officer, and Stennis’ Sailor of the Year Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Isiah M. Burns, rode alongside past and present servicemembers in honor of the U.S. military and the patriotic service given in support of the country.

“I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of patriotism from the Bremerton and Kitsap County communities,” said Hakimzadeh. “The entire parade route was lined with people. It’s great to live in such a military friendly area, and the men and women serving our country are proud to be members of the community.”

The Bremerton Chamber of Commerce organized the parade, which included more than 150 entries. Participants ranged from active-duty military members, veterans, state and local officials, high school marching bands and community leaders.

“It is a great experience; every year I do it,” said Frank Gentile, Bremerton Chamber of Commerce member and 20-year resident. “Sometimes military servicemembers can be taken for granted, so it is incredible to have this chance to give them a once-a-year public thank you.”

Held in downtown Bremerton, the parade is the largest and longest running Armed Forces Day Parade in the nation. According to the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce website, the annual attendance ranges from 25,000 to 30,000 people from Washington, with entries from as far away as Oregon and Spokane.

“It goes a long way to see this kind of support from a community that always backs you up,” said Burns, from Philadelphia. “It’s an honor for my wife and I to be part of this parade and reminds me that I am nothing without the support of my friends and family back home.”

For more news from USS John C. Stennis visit or 74.

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Jiang

BREMERTON, Wash. – Two Stennis Sailors were among ten presenters who shared their ideas on improving the Navy with other military and civilian personnel during Athena Northwest 3.0 on Naval Base Kitsap May 15.

Athena Project Northwest provides a forum for Sailors and Department of Defense personnel in the Pacific Northwest to share innovative ideas for improving the Navy.

“The Athena Project demonstrates what’s possible when someone believes that they can make a change, that they can make a difference,” said Lt. Cmdr. Drew Barker. “What we want is to build that next tier of idea champions, people who believe in their ideas and then take them forward to make a positive difference.”

Presenters set up display tables around the room and gave their pitches in a job-fair format. The audience split up into smaller groups and visited each presenter for five-minute explanations followed by two-minute question and answer sessions. Afterward they voted for the pitch they liked best.

Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Bree Frenette, from Flagstaff, Ariz., pitched a Navy e-learning mobile application, and Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) 3rd Class Jonte Johnson, presented an idea for networking and distinguished visitors.

“Even if my idea doesn’t get developed, it felt good to be heard,” said Frenette. “It felt good that you could have something happen.”

The finalists addressed the audience one last time before they made their final decision on the recipient of the Admiral Sims Award for Intellectual Courage and the support of a small functional team to help develop the winner’s idea further.

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) 3rd Class John Broussard, from USS Nimitz (CVN 68), took home the Admiral Sims Award with his idea for ships to recycle trash while in port.

While there can be only one award recipient, the event is a good opportunity for Navy personnel to network with civilian professionals.

“All the ideas have promise.” said Alan Leong, a lecturer at the University of Washington and senior research analyst at BioWatch News, who attended the event. “The important thing is that they get traction, movement and feedback so that [the presenters] get more ideas for how to improve them and how to articulate them better.”
Barker and Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) 3rd Class Benjamin Brehm heard about the USS Benfold (DDG 65) organizing the first Athena Project event in San Diego and thought it could benefit their local commands. They organized the first Athena Project event in the Northwest region, Athena Northwest 1.0, in November 2014.

“I saw a lot of people in the Navy that needed to know that if they have an issue with their job, if they have something that can be improved in the way they do things, their voices are hugely advantageous,” said Brehm. “It’s the guy with the wrench in his hand that’s going to be able to tell you what’s wrong about the wrench.”

For more information about Athena Project Northwest and their future events visit or
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Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christian B. Martinez

PACIFIC OCEAN – Bouyant, unwieldy bodies collided against each other amid a chorus of shouts and cheers during the Sumo My Chief Petty Officer (CPO) event aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) May 7.

The Chiefs Mess-sponsored event raised funds and gave Sailors a rare opportunity to wrestle with their chiefs.

“It’s a great way to raise morale after being on the ship for 30 days at a time,” said Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Abraham Gonzalez, from Los Angeles. “There is a lot of pent-up energy to be spent.”

Despite a smaller stature, Gonzalez was excited to challenge his own chief. He managed two rounds before losing, but that did little to dampen his overall experience.

“I did my best and got two rounds off of him, so I am proud of that,” said Gonzalez. “Just the fact that I got to sumo wrestle my chief in the first place is out of this world. I never thought I would be able to do that.”

Chiefs and their junior Sailors competed in best out of four rounds with an occasional tiebreaker. Contenders scored points when they shoved or tackled their opponents to the ground, landing on top of them as a finishing blow. Afterward both contenders required assistance to stand up, due to the bulkiness of the sumo costumes leaving them like upside-down turtles.

Sailors listened to music and comical fight commentary, enhancing the spectacle of watching their peers take on prominent chiefs from around the ship. There was no animosity from either side, just laughter and good humor every time a sumo body spiraled to the ground.

“Whether you are a blue shirt or a khaki, it is always one team, one fight,” said Chief Operations Specialist Wayne Doyle, from New Orleans. “Both parties can compete and walk away with pride. There is no ill will, and we can all joke about it and have some fun.”

For more news from USS John C. Stennis visit or 74.


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