Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jamie Hawkins
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate

Whether Stennis’ Interior Communications Electricians (IC) are keeping Sailors connected through their telephones at sea or through their favorite sports television broadcast on land, their mission of keeping the ship’s communications equipment maintained at optimal levels at all times is vital to shipboard operations.

ICs are responsible for a myriad of systems, including video distribution equipment, telephone systems, ships’ force protection cameras, integrated launch and recovery television surveillance (iLARTS), and general alarm systems aboard Stennis.

“What we do is very critical, especially for a ship,” said Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class (SW) Christopher Stough, who has worked with IC equipment for over 12 years. “On a daily basis we have to repair 10 telephones. If we can’t talk to each other quickly then we lose efficiency, and everyone has a bad day.”

The diversity of the IC rate requires Sailors to work for different departments aboard Stennis.

“On a carrier the main departments ICs work for are Air, Engineering and Combat Systems,” said Stough. “We have a lot of work to do all around the ship whereas ICs on smaller ships might only work for Combat Systems. When ICs are on shore they usually work at repair facilities fixing phones and other gear.”

Every Sailor, military dependent, or government contractor who turns on a television or picks up a telephone on military facilities is utilizing an IC system, but the rate is not widely known beyond those who interact with ICs to achieve their mission.

“The television would have to be the easiest and most well known thing we do on the ship along with the flight deck cameras that record all launch and recoveries,” said Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Monty W. Starkey. “The dead reckoning system that tracks our movements in the water is one of our more challenging and less widely known systems.”

The IC Sailor can be found throughout the Navy working on systems from studio lighting for Mass Communication Specialists to alarm warnings in a weapons magazine with Aviation Ordnancemen aboard aircraft carriers.

“We are everywhere,” said Stough. “I started my career in V-2 Division on a carrier. We have the alarm warning shop, the regular and sound powered telephone shop and television control. We are a cross between EMs (Electrician’s Mate) and ETs (Electronics Technician).”

Like every Sailor, an IC must be well trained, but capable of taking on challenges outside of their realm of expertise.

“I personally have done a lot of work for the off ship communications and internet,” said Starkey. “Generally speaking, ICs handle a lot of stuff that we have no formal training for, but we get the job done.”

For ICs like Starkey and Stough, it’s this constant change, the challenges in need of solutions, that they joined the Navy for.

“I love my job,” said Stough. “Every day is something new. There is always a new challenge to overcome.”

From ships to shore, ICs keep the lines of communication open, enabling Sailors to accomplish various missions across the globe.