Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christian B. Martinez
PACIFIC OCEAN – USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) participated in a joint training exercise with Army rotary-wing aviation units stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord while transiting the Strait of Juan de Fuca March 23.
The helicopter units conducted carrier launch and landing maneuvers, increasing their ability to perform overwater operations globally from naval platforms.
“What was witnessed was an awesome display of flight deck readiness and the capabilities of our qualified and professional flight deck crew,” said Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Rick Hayes, from Jacksonville, Fla. “It has enabled safe and coordinated joint force operations with U.S. Army aircraft.”
The Washington Army National guard’s 66th Aviation Theater Command and the U.S. Army’s 106th Special Operations Aviation Regiment participated in the exercise with Stennis. They landed UH-60 BlackHawks and MH-47 Chinooks.
To prepare for the evolution, teams from both army commands and Stennis traveled to each other’s locations to conduct flight planning, coordinate the air plan and troubleshoot. Sailors from Stennis’ Air Department met with Army helicopter pilots and personnel and raised concerns about unfamiliarity with Army aircraft.
“One of our biggest concerns was whether there would be an issue with communication due to different navigational equipment,” said Hayes. “The operation ran smoothly, the landings and launches were conducted safely, and we were able to provide what the pilots needed.”
The U.S. Navy and Army have historically participated in overwater operations together in Haiti, the Persian Gulf, Korea, and in exercises around the Pacific region.