Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dugan Flynn
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate

Stennis Sailors may see a few familiar faces as well as a lot of new ones from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 this underway.

Of the eight embarked squadrons aboard the Stennis and one beach detachment, half are brand new to the ship.

HSC-8 Eightballers flying the MH-60S Knighthawk; HSM-71 Raptors flying the MH-60R Sea Hawk; VAW-112 Golden Hawks flying the E-2C Hawkeye and VRC-30 Providers flying the C-2A Greyhound have served aboard Stennis in the past.

New squadrons to Stennis, VAQ-133 Wizards flying the EA-6B Prowler; VFA-192 Golden Dragons and VFA-97 Warhawks flying the F/A-18C; VFA-14 Tophatters and VFA-41 Black Aces flying the F/A- 18E/F Super Hornets respectively are joining the Stennis team for the first time.

“The easiest transition for us really, has been the ship,” said CVW- 9 Command Master Chief (EAWS/ SCWS) William Rosch. “Stennis has really welcomed us with open arms from the beginning.”

As of Feb. 1st, the pilots have completed 724 traps and flown a total of 933 flight hours.

“We are knee deep in the work-up cycle,” said Lieutenant Junior Grade Chapelle Topher, a naval aviator with VFA-192 Golden Dragons. “Right now we are working on our cyclic operation routine, night qualifications and our tanking qualifications. We are excited about getting ready for deployment.”

Stennis crewmembers may notice many CVW-9 Sailors working with them beyond flight deck and in the hangar bay.

“I like working with ship’s company,” said Master at Arms 3rd Class Lauren Manning. “In security, I work with them every day. It’s good to have people that know their way around the ship. There are a lot of different personalities on Stennis.”

Squadrons are made up of more than just pilots and mechanics. The multitude of rates the squadrons bring with them keep Stennis functioning effortlessly despite the extra personnel aboard.

“We’ve got everyone from CSs to MAs with us,” said Rosch. “They assist in everything from keeping berthing clean to cooking meals. It’s all interconnected to help us get the job done and not worry about the smaller problems.”

Members of CVW-9 get to experience life aboard a ship while still enjoying the comfort of friendly faces.

“Squadron life is a lot different from shipboard life,” said Manning. “Squadrons are a lot smaller; on a ship you see a new face every day. It’s like living in a small community in a big city. It’s nice to have your squadron on the ship because you know they have your back.”

Rosch says CVW-9 plays an important role for Stennis.

“Without us, Stennis wouldn’t be able to complete the mission,” said Rosch. “But at the same time, we stress to our people the importance that without Stennis, we could not complete our mission. It goes hand in hand.”

The support that Stennis crewmembers provide CVW-9 enables the individual Sailor to get the job done.

“If a Sailor is constantly worried about not getting enough pay, enough food or any number of little problems, it makes it difficult for them to do their job,” said Rosch. “But with Stennis, they’ve minimized those worries so we can do our jobs effectively.”

In fact, CVW-9 and Stennis will participate in the Centennial of Naval Aviation together in San Diego on Feb. 12.

Additional unit, group and joint training will ensure fleet mission readiness for deployment.