STENNIS Families and Friends,

As we head back to home port, I wanted to let you know about underway period. We completed a very successful Tailored Ship Training Availability (TSTA) during which every aspect of operating Stennis was evaluated including our operations with Carrier Air Wing NINE (CVW-9). Over 20 high-tempo days and numerous fast-paced drills across the ship, every crew member in every department showed the skills required to properly train and prepare for the next phases in our pre-deployment training cycle. Commander Naval Air Forces and Afloat Training Group experts were impressed with our progress and we were given a “Final Evaluated Problem (FEP)” 2 days early. During this two-day event, your Sailors performed admirably as they demonstrated our ability to manage and solve complex challenges in damage control including flooding and fires, personnel injuries, aircraft crashes and equipment damage.

Following TSTA/FEP, Carrier Strike Group THREE formed as Destroy Squadron TWENTY ONE and USS MOBILE BAY (CG 53) joined for Group Sail. Over 8 days of Group Sail, we also exercised all aspects of naval sea power with USS FREEDOM (LCS 1) and USS HIGGINS (DDG 76) during their pre-deployment certification. You can see both of those ships leading our formation in the attached photograph.

Of course, we continue to prepare for an upcoming Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV). This evaluation occurs approximately every 3-5 years and is a comprehensive look at shipboard maintenance and repair status, safety and habitability, and our ability to operate the ship as designed and outfitted. As many of you already know, INSURV preparations began prior to Sea Trials last November. This is an all hands and all departments effort both in-port and at-sea to ensure we know our ship and understand how to live in and operate her. Since this inspection occurs prior to our next major pre-deployment training evolution, we don’t have time to waste and will continue to focus on INSURV preparations and take advantage of maintenance opportunities following return to Bremerton.

All the best and see you soon,
Captain Mike Wettlaufer