Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Frost

PACIFIC OCEAN – USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Sailors gathered around televisions Monday morning to watch the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos battle for the title of Super Bowl 50 champion 18 time zones away in Levi’s Stadium.
The football game was a welcome break for the crew, which is underway on a regularly scheduled deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet Area of Operations.
“It didn’t matter that the Super Bowl was on a Monday,” said Personnel Specialist 2nd Class Michael Smith, from Oklahoma City. “Me and a lot of other people lose track of the days.”
Stennis’ Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) division anticipated the crew’s desire to view the event and set up the largest inflatable screen they had in the hangar bay.
“The bigger the screen the better the game,” said Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Markteisha Gill, from Miami, MWR assistant treasurer. “We wanted to make people feel more at home, so we did as much as we could … watching the game made people feel connected with their loved ones back home.”
According to communications officer Ensign Amber Howell, from Severna Park, Md., satellite television signal is not always guaranteed in the middle of the ocean, but thanks to Stennis’ Combat Systems department, Sailors saw the game with little interruption.

The ship’s position was given to Theatre Information Systems (TIM) and they provided the ship with a satellite signal for the Super Bowl.
“Without working with TIM we would have had a spotty unreliable signal during the Super Bowl,” said Howell.
A steady course, adjusted work schedule, good satellite reception, large screens and the biggest football game of the year gave Sailors a little taste of home.

Providing a combat-ready force to protect collective maritime interests, Stennis is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled Western Pacific deployment.

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Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Tomas Compian

PACIFIC OCEAN – The air is wet and heavy in USS John C. Stennis’ (CVN 74) forecastle, which is not a likely place to find classical music. Yet sometimes age-old notes hang in the air as Sailors paint bulkheads and handle line.

This is where you will find Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Jakob Schmidt, a man of stocky stature. His build is geared more toward picking up and putting down very heavy things; someone might not realize he appreciates the finer things in life. He might seem more comfortable with an electric guitar or a drum set, but his musical instrument of choice is the violin. He plays classical and frontier-style music.

“I’ve always liked pretty technical, classical music to play, which is weird because I am a metalhead,” said Schmidt. “The violin is something that not many people play; that’s why I chose it.”

Schmidt has played the violin since middle school, and he plays it well, especially with one hand missing a finger.

Before his junior year of high school, Schmidt was headed to the basketball court. An avid player, he could slam-dunk a basketball. It was this feat that caused him to lose his finger, and in turn, his ability to play the violin.

“My ring finger got caught in the net and the … hoop broke off the ground and took me with it,” said Schmidt. “The rim landed on my finger and smashed the end of it off.”

With a small chuckle and a grimace he brings up his hand showing his ring finger which is smaller than normal and ends with a rough callus built up where his fingernail should be.

Schmidt sold his top-of-the-line violin and headed to the weight room. With little-to-no feeling in his finger and constant pain in his hand, he filled the next five years of his life with work and weight training.

Recently, the pain subsided. This was a green light for Schmidt. He went out and bought an inexpensive violin, doctored it up a bit with new strings, tuner sets and began playing again.

“I have always been musically inclined,” said Schmidt. “I can jump on a piano and make music come out of it. I definitely prefer playing violin, and I already have roots in it, so I decided to pick that up again.”

The injury is still troublesome. Because the muscle memory that he developed with a fully functional hand still resides, he has to constantly correct where his finger should be on the violin. Even with the frustration of relearning to play, playing the violin is more than worth it for Schmidt. He uses it to decompress from the daily grind, and it keeps him busy instead of playing video games.

“I learned patience,” said Schmidt. “Stick it out, and take care of what you can. Be patient.”

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Why the BRONCOS will win:
By Ens. David Tejada

The team knows how to grind it out. They are ranked #1 in nearly every defensive category.

After the embarrassing Super Bowl loss two years ago, their General Manager John Elway had enough. He fired head coach John Fox and hired Gary Kubiak to take the reins. He realized that the defense was stacked with talent and this would be a Super Bowl or bust type of year.

It sure has.

Denver’s secondary can cover anyone, and the Panthers will realize that quickly. When they try to run they will get a big dose of the defensive line, and it will be up to Cam to make a play EVERY time.

Von Miller and Demarcus Ware are the league’s premier pass rushers. Although they destroyed Tom Brady, Cam Newton is much more mobile. Cam is also only 3-8 when he’s been hit seven times or more. Denver’s defense leads the league in quarterback hits and sacks, so something’s got to give.

Peyton Manning can be the first QB to win a Super Bowl with two different teams. Denver has a defense that makes stops and creates turnovers, they just need to capitalize on red zone opportunities and protect the ball at all costs. The Broncos are also 9-0 when rushing for 105 yards or more.

Everyone in the Bronco’s organization wants Peyton to ride off into the sunset with a ring and world championship for all he’s done in the last four years, reminiscent of another Bronco legend, John Elway. On Feb. 7, the Broncos WILL be the better team. It will come down to the last drive (nail biting and gray hairs galore), but in the end the Broncos shall prevail 24-20.

Why the Panthers will win:
By Aviation Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Arturo Perez

There are many reasons and factors that will contribute to the victory. The first and most obvious reason is Cam Newton; he is the X factor for the Carolina offense. Head coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Mike Shula were able to mold Newton’s raw talent and turn the Panthers into one of the most dominant offenses in the NFL.

While Carolina has a run-based offense, Newton has the option of changing the play at will. Newton has thrown for 3,837 passing yards and 35 touchdowns.

However, the biggest impact Newton has made is throwing that many yards without his all-star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and his ability to spread the ball to his other receivers. His favorite target is his tight end Gregg Olsen because he is one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Olsen has started every game since he became a Panther.

Now that is just the receiving corps. The running game is just as nasty as Cam throwing. I did say Carolina is a run-based offense, and leading the charge is Jonathan Stewart, followed by Mike Tolbert, Cam Artis-Payne, Fozzy Whittaker, and so on. This is just the offense, I haven’t even begun to talk about the defense. Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Josh Norman, Charles Johnson, Jared Allen, I can go on and on. The defense WILL SHUT DOWN Peyton Manning and the Denver offense. Super Bowl 50 WILL go to the Carolina Panthers!!!!!!!!!! Dab on ‘em.

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Dakota Rayburn

PACIFIC OCEAN -Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) hosted a bingo tournament, Jan. 27, offering Sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) the chance to fly off the ship and attend the NFL Pro Bowl in Hawaii with one guest.

Fire Controlman 1st Class Michael Kirby, from Cottage Grove, Ore., won the grand prize trip to Hawaii and $2,000, but he had something much better than money or a football game waiting for him.

“My favorite thing was getting to see my wife because she flew out,” said Kirby.

While Kirby elected to spend his time with his wife, his guest, Personnel Specialist 3rd Class Kevin Stauft from Redding, Calif., took the opportunity to explore and attend the Pro Bowl. Stauft said he took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy Hawaii by going on a submarine tour, visiting Waikiki Beach and meeting interesting people at a pre-Pro Bowl party. One of his favorite experiences on the island was getting to try new foods like a honey buttered roll stuffed with lobster.

“I actually liked just being in Hawaii; it’s paradise,” said Stauft.

Kirby transferred to Stennis from a frigate. He said the size and logistics of an aircraft carrier are mind-boggling.

“It’s cool that FC1 won because this is his first taste of carrier life,” said Senior Chief Fire Controlman Scott Benjamin, from Bolivar, N.Y., on temporary assigned duty (TAD) from USS Shoup (DDG 86). “To see that those prizes are so significant, that the opportunity is there, you don’t get that on a [frigate].”
Kirby said he plans to use the remaining money for a future house payment. He joked he is looking forward to winning a new truck at the end of deployment in future MWR competitions.
“We sponsor events like bingo whenever we have a long time at sea or if someone suggests an event that we should do,” said Electronics Technician Seaman Megan Peixotto, from Owasso, Okla., TAD to MWR. “We are starting to try to do some sort of event every week.”
MWR hosts events like the bingo tournament to give Sailors fun activities to participate in and boost morale on the ship. They also coordinate events and sell tickets to local attractions when Stennis pulls into port.
Providing a combat-ready force to protect collective maritime interests, Stennis is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled Western Pacific deployment.
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Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Frost

PACIFIC OCEAN – On a warship with more high-tech ordnance than flavors of jellybeans, the more conventional tools and weapons used by law enforcement might seem humdrum. When destruction of your intended target is only a button-press away, why resort to the seemingly obsolete method of aiming down the sights of a sidearm?

If you had USS John C. Stennis’ (CVN 74) Security department’s perspective on the situation, you would know how absurd that question is.

The security department is a force of Sailors trained to use the tools and weapons of law enforcement to protect the ship and its crew from a variety of situations. The scenarios these Sailors train to combat can be completely unexpected. Unlike a planned strike on a target, security is a countermeasure for the low-tech, but highly threatening, situations that big bombs cannot feasibly handle.

“We have to be ready for everything in a moment’s notice,” said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Keith Danalewich, from Palos Hills, Ill., Security’s leading petty officer and the Stennis’ command investigator. “No preplanned response can cover everything.”

Fortunately, Security doesn’t respond to a major threat very often. On a day-to-day basis Security is operating to maintain good order and discipline throughout the ship, keeping “honest Sailors honest,” said Danalewich. Security’s responsibilities include cutting locks with lost keys, dealing with lost items, and tracking restricted personnel. Security also handles the prevention and investigations of crimes on board.

“Our normal operations may seem a bit mundane, but that’s not a bad thing.” said Seaman Ian Burke, from Columbia, S.C. “The day things aren’t normal is a very bad day for everyone.”

Burke is assigned to the ship’s Navy Security Force (NSF), the core group of Sailors that serve on the security team at sea. NSF members receive training on a spectrum of tactics and techniques, from diffusing tense situations and using non-lethal weapons to using firearms to sweep through and secure areas. Active shooters, bomb threats, swimmers and disorder are some of the dangers security is prepared to combat.

Our training realistically simulates the dangers we’re expected to face and teaches us how to properly respond, said Burke.

If the time comes and that response is needed, Stennis’ Security department is ready to face danger to protect our ship, said Burke.

When the threats are over the horizon, skilled pilots with scores of well-armed aircraft at their disposal are ready to launch missions to neutralize them, but, if a threat ever comes from closer, or even from inside, it will encounter the well-trained and capable repellent of Stennis’ security force.

Providing a combat-ready force to protect collective maritime interests, Stennis is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled Western Pacific deployment.

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Story by USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Public Affairs

PACIFIC OCEAN – The John C. Stennis Strike Group (JCSSG) crossed the International Date Line into the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations Feb. 4.

Approximately 7,000 Sailors make up the strike group, which is on a regularly scheduled Western Pacific deployment.

“The Sailors of this strike group are ready, willing and able to go wherever is necessary to protect American interests,” said Rear Adm. Ron Boxall, commander, JCSSG. “We will continue the great tradition of projecting power and enhancing U.S. partner relationships around the world.”

JCSSG is the centerpiece of the Great Green Fleet, a year-long initiative highlighting the Navy’s efforts to transform its energy use to increase operational capability. The strike group will use energy efficiency measures, to include technologies and operational procedures, and alternative fuel in the course of its normal operations.

The strike group expects to participate in a number of exercises during this deployment; training, integrating and building capacity with allies in the Pacific region as part of an ongoing rotation of U.S. forces supporting maritime security operations in waters around the world.

JCSSG Sailors spent more than half of the past year underway preparing for this deployment to 7th Fleet. They completed Composite Training Unit Exercise and Joint Task Force Exercise throughout July and August as well as a sustainment exercise in October.

JCSSG consists of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21 embarked, guided-missile destroyers USS Stockdale (DDG 106), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), and USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), and guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53).

CVW-9 consists of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 14, Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 112, Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 133 and Strike Fighter Squadrons (VFA) 151, 97, 41 and 14.

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Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan J. Batchelder

“Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”

Titled after a famous Civil War naval battle, the guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) continues to uphold the war-fighting legacy of the Battle of Mobile Bay.

Union forces, under the command of Adm. David Farragut, and Confederate forces, under Adm. Franklin Buchanan, squared off in the last consequential Gulf Coast port of Mobile, Ala., on Aug. 5, 1864.

The Confederacy littered the only approach to the port of Mobile Bay with mines and other obstructions, known during the American Civil War as torpedoes, with the hope that the bay would remain in their hands. Embarked on USS Hartford, the flagship of an 18-ship force, Farragut was determined to take Mobile, the last working, Confederate port, into Union possession.

Against the Confederate ironclad flagship, CSS Tennessee, and three other Confederate ships, CSS Morgan, CSS Gaines, and CSS Selma, Farragut’s fleet moved into the channel and was immediately hit with fire from Fort Morgan, a Confederate emplacement overlooking the bay. The battle formation broke apart and the ships began to lose their bearings with each other. With fire from the fort raining down on his fleet, it was at that moment that Farragut gave the order to “damn the torpedoes” and moved into Mobile Bay at full speed.

Buchanan’s fleet of four Confederate ships were quickly overwhelmed as Farragut’s fleet converged on the bay. The Tennessee was rammed and hit with broadside cannon fire for two hours before losing steering and going dead in the water. Only then, did Tennessee strike their colors and the wounded Buchanan gave the order to surrender, concluding one of the most important naval battles of the Civil War.

Story by Lt. j.g. Jane Baird, USS William P. Lawrence Public Affairs

PACIFIC OCEAN – Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) completed the first Undersea Warfare Exercise (USWEX) of the calendar year, Feb. 1.

The anti-submarine warfare (ASW) team practiced fathometer, a sonic depth finder, familiarization and submarine detection exercises, while bridge watchstanders implemented submarine tracking and torpedo evasion techniques.

Researchers from the Applied Research Laboratories at the University of Texas (ARL-UT) in Austin observed the ASW team throughout the exercises and conducted advanced sonar analysis.

Senior acoustic analyst Daniel Waldrep said he “was very impressed with Lawrence’s sonar team. Their professionalism, knowledge, and dedication to their mission ensure that they are ready and willing to handle any challenge…in the Western Pacific.”

The exercise was an opportunity for the crew to work together as a team to practice and refine a very precise skill set.

“USWEX was challenging, but the Combat Acoustic Division feels confident that this exercise has fully prepared us to track any challenging threats,” said Sonar Technician 1st Class Milton Muralles.

Providing a combat-ready force to protect collective maritime interests, Lawrence, in conjunction with the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled Western Pacific Deployment.

Commissioned June 4, 2011, Lawrence is named after Vice Adm. William P. Lawrence, a naval aviator, former Vietnam prisoner of war and former commander of U.S. 3rd Fleet. Commanded by Cmdr. Walter C. Mainor, is home ported in San Diego.

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Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Cole C. Pielop

PACIFIC OCEAN – The Sailors working in USS John C. Stennis’ (CVN 74) galley, who serve more than 20,000 meals a day to feed the crew of more than 5,000, really have their work cut out for them.

When most of the crew is heading to bed, the galley’s night crew is just starting to get things cooking.

“We rely on each other. The day crew is so busy serving that many people, they don’t have enough time to prepare all of the meals. That’s where we come in,” said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Arthur Joseph, from Dallas, night shift galley supervisor. “If it wasn’t for the night crew, the day crew wouldn’t be able to do as much as they do.”

It may be a bit quieter at night, but work never stops in the galley. Even after midnight, the crew is still hustling around getting things ready for breakfast.
“It’s around 2 a.m. and we are already beginning to prepare about 1,200 hashbrowns,” said Joseph. “There are also about 1,800 portions of eggs that are being prepared. We have to start early or else we will be behind the next day. Nobody wants that.”
On top of cleaning utensils, refilling condiments, and getting the mess decks ready for breakfast, night check has to prepare a meal.
“Some people are cleaning and preparing for tomorrow, but we can’t forget about tonights meal,” said Joseph. “Midrats (midnight rations) alone we serve about 800 meals. Our night crew is good though, we get the work done.”
While the main event may be in the primary kitchen, the vegetable prep kitchen, where a variety of items are prepared for the next meal, is constantly buzzing with activity.
“We are preparing vegetables throughout the whole night,” said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Emmanuel Njoku, from Minneapolis. “It’s a non-stop process. As people are coming through and eating we are just trying to keep up.”

Adjusting to sleeping during the days isn’t always easy, especially with noisy people in the berthing and 1MC announcements. Once past that, many Sailors, like Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman Christopher Settle, from Columbus, Ind., actually begin to enjoy working at night.
“Nights are just really nice and quiet,” said Settle, currently a food service assistant working in the aft galley. “While most people are sleeping it’s nice to be able to just go to the hangar bay to watch the ocean. I’ve really begun to appreciate the quiet.”
Serving food 23-hours-a-day requires quite a bit of hard work that often goes unseen. So next time you’re headed to your rack, remember, there’s a CS in the galley preparing your next meal.

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Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Rodriguez Santiago

PACIFIC OCEAN – Throughout the deck plates of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), Sailors traded in their uniforms to wear their teams’ jerseys during the NFL’s Conference Championship games, Jan. 24. They sat anxiously on the edge of their seats in workspaces, on mess decks and in lounges watching their teams compete. Fans cheered as the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos triumphed, earning a spot in Super Bowl 50.

Stennis Sailors have spent the past year working to be deployment ready, like a quarterback preparing all year for his shot at the Super Bowl. There are countless obstacles that can get in the way of being prepared for deployment or making it to the Super Bowl.

“Honestly, I don’t think the crew expected to perform as well as we did,” said Senior Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic Ryan W. Gillig, a native of Kalispell, Mont., “We got all these accolades for all of the inspections. Everything that Stennis went up against, we conquered.”

“If you mirror that with what the Broncos did, there were many people who never gave them a shot, but they kept on trucking and kept on meeting that weekly goal,” Gillig added. “Now we reached our goal this year by leaving for deployment and the Broncos are one step closer to reaching theirs by making it to the Super Bowl.”

Stennis consistently performed well on inspections and exercises throughout the work up cycle to reach a goal of being deployment ready and these two Super Bowl teams have shown that they are both ready to be on the same path as Stennis.

“This is the best I’ve seen the Panthers play since 2004,” said Machinist’s Mate Fireman Carrie Bumgardner, from Gastonia, N.C. “They really stepped up their game. They are working together and playing more in sync than ever before.”

These Sailors, who spend their lives committed to teams like the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers, have embraced similar values and goals important to both the Navy and football.

Every member brings something to the team, whether it’s a Sailor working on the mess decks or a kicker on a football team.

Gillig started playing football when he was in second grade. It was the kickers who got him interested in the sport. He would spend hours kicking the football barefoot. He learned at an early age that playing this sport takes a lot of teamwork.

“It takes everyone on a team to win a football game.” said Gillig. “It also takes every job on this ship to accomplish the mission.”

The Navy and football can also help instill values for an individual to be the best they can be.

“Football has shown me that I have to be dedicated to whatever I do,” said Bumgardner. “If I can see these guys playing professional football, well then I can make it as far as I want to make it in the Navy. They bring out the passion in me to do my best.”

The sport provides an opportunity to make time underway less stressful.

“It gives people an escape from being stuck in the middle of the ocean,” said Bumgardner. “Being out to sea isn’t that bad, [but] it’s nice to forget where you are and just enjoy a good football game and talk smack to each other.”

Being deployed can be stressful, but football can create an environment that builds camaraderie in the workplace.

“Watching the games underway definitely brings my shop and me closer together,” said Gillig. “Everyone in my shop knows I am a diehard Broncos fan. We have a good time and joke at each other.”

Bumgardner said the intensity in the sport hypes everyone up. It bring’s people together to be more than just friends watching a game. They become a family.

Whether wearing orange and white or blue and black, these two fans have values that can apply to being on the gridiron or on a warship. As the Panthers and Broncos face off for Super Bowl 50, the Stennis crew has earned their Lombardi trophy.


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