Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman James Lyon
BREMERTON, Wash. – Sailors assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) are preparing for future operations by learning to successfully navigate an aircraft carrier at sea.
The Navigation, Seamanship and Ship Handling Trainer (NSST), is a million-dollar simulator capable of simulating ports, sea lanes and hazardous maritime conditions which features viewing screens and consoles similar to the on Stennis’ navigation bridge.
“When I first began my sea-going career, we didn’t have a tool like this,” said NSST senior instructor, retired Coast Guard Capt. Tony Ford. “This is a powerful training tool, and I am pleased to see Stennis’ bridge team take advantage of it.”
Ford is able to program the simulator to run various scenarios of different locations, weather conditions and obstacles for Stennis’ bridge team to navigate. The process is designed to teach Sailors practical maritime navigation techniques they can use to navigate through increasingly difficult challenges.
“The simulator is a great refresher before we get back into sea operations,” said Stennis Navigator, Cmdr. Justin Shineman from Columbus, Ohio. “It gives our Sailors and officers a chance to operate the ship in similar conditions to what they will see on deployment.”
To prepare bridge team prepare for deployment, NSST can be programmed to place Sailors in virtual maritime scenarios including carrier flight ops and underway replenishment as well one of Stennis’ most challenging maneuvers, navigating the Puget Sound bridge passage.
Successfully navigating the bridge passage, said Ford, requires near perfect conditions and zero navigational errors.
“When the tide is high and the current comes to a near stop,” said Ford, “it takes crisp, smooth action and teamwork to get Stennis safely out and into the fight.”
Stennis’ bridge team is scheduled to attend training at NSST monthly in order to ensure the team is qualified and ready to return the ship to the Fleet.
Stennis is currently undergoing a Docking Planned Incremental Availability (DPIA) maintenance period at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility.