Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Kathleen O’Keefe
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate

After nearly two months at sea, Stennis successfully completed an eventful underway Tuesday.

During the underway, Stennis received passing grades in both Tailored Ships Training Availability (TSTA) and the Final Evaluation Problem (FEP), participated in the kickoff celebration of the Centennial of Naval Aviation (CoNA) and passed its Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) before returning to its homeport in Bremerton, Wash.

“Coming out of our maintenance availability in December we had a lot of training and additional maintenance to get us ready for safe operations at sea,” said Stennis’ Commanding Officer Capt. Joseph Kuzmick. “Global operations required us to be ready on a compressed schedule for work ups and INSURV. In true Stennis fashion our crew met all challenges well. I’m very proud of everyone.”

Stennis received an overall grade of excellent during TSTA/ FEP, which evaluated the mission readiness of each operational level of the ship.

“The ship did extremely well during the basic training phase that included TSTA and FEP, said Lt. Cmdr. Francis Brown, Stennis’ Training Officer. “The progress made in such a short time was very impressive. TSTA/FEP is usually a 25 day evolution, but due to our involvement in CoNA we completed both in 22 days.”

Stennis also served as the centerpiece for the Navy’s kick off celebration for CoNA Feb. 12 at Naval Air Station North Island.

“The crew was determined to succeed at every turn,” said Kuzmick. “In our compressed schedule beginning work ups for deployment we were additionally tasked to lead the kickoff celebration for CoNA, and our crew executed superbly as the centerpiece for several thousand visitors.”

“Though we knew INSURV was coming, we also had to focus on CoNA,” said Lt. Michael Stamerra, Stennis’ Principal Assistant of Logistics. “The whole underway was a balancing act, but we just had to take it one thing at a time.”

Immediately following CoNA festivities, Stennis Sailors geared up for INSURV, the congressionally mandated material inspection that determines if a ship is fit for combat operations.

After the six-day assessment, Stennis’s crew proved fit to conduct sustained combat operations, performing better than fleet average in 11 of 18 functional areas.

“This underway offered some of the most challenging time in some people’s entire career,” said Senior Chief Damage Controlman (SW/AW) Steve Quick. “We had two of the fleet’s hardest inspections overlap, but we came out on top. I think that is a testament to the quality of Sailors that we have aboard Stennis.”

“This underway was part of a stair-step process to do the integrated strike group operations that will ultimately designate us ‘ready to deploy’ later this year,” said Kuzmick. “Our success so far has proven we’ll be ready for multiple mission requirements from combatant commanders during deployment. I’m extremely proud of everyone’s dedication and hard work.”

Stennis’ crew will spend a few weeks in port before returning to sea to participate in Fleet Replacement Squadron Carrier Qualifications, qualifying Navy pilots and air crews in carrier flight operations prior to them joining squadrons in the fleet.