By Mass Communication Specialist Daniel Schumacher

PACIFIC OCEAN – The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) completed an ordnance offload, April 18 in preparation for returning home after an eight month deployment to U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operation.

Sailors in Stennis’ Weapons Department prepared more than 3.6 million pounds of ordnance for the offload eight weeks in advance by properly containerizing and securing the ordnance for transport.

“This is one of the evolutions that takes every member of Weapons Department working together to accomplish,” said Ensign Douglas Kesterson, Weapons Department, G-5 division gunner, from San Antonio.

The ordnance was handled with extreme care to prevent damage or corrosion to both the ordnance equipment and the shipping containers protecting it, said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Oscar Vera, Weapons Department, G-3 division’s leading petty officer, from Houston.

“Some of the pieces are very fragile and delicate,” said Vera. “Damage to the ordnance could render it useless or activate a component in it. An evolution like this has a lot of moving parts involved, and there can’t be any room for error.”

The offload included extensive coordination between Deck, Air, Security, Supply, and Medical Departments as well as Damage Control Division and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 8 who facilitated the vertical replenishment to transport the ordnance from Stennis to USNS Richard E. Byrd (T-AKE 4).

“This is one of the true examples of how a carrier can operate as one cohesive unit,” said Kesterson. “It’s a great feeling knowing you can count on other departments to do anything they can to support such a massive evolution. We would not have been able to accomplish an ammunition offload without the support of the other departments involved.”

The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG), consisting of Stennis, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21, and guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), is returning from an eight-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th fleet areas of responsibility.

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Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Joshua Vang, from Milwaukee, prepares ordnance for an ammo off load on the flight deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). John C. Stennis is returning from an eight-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility.

Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Ignacio D. Perez