Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Frost
PACIFIC OCEAN – On a warship with more high-tech ordnance than flavors of jellybeans, the more conventional tools and weapons used by law enforcement might seem humdrum. When destruction of your intended target is only a button-press away, why resort to the seemingly obsolete method of aiming down the sights of a sidearm?
If you had USS John C. Stennis’ (CVN 74) Security department’s perspective on the situation, you would know how absurd that question is.
The security department is a force of Sailors trained to use the tools and weapons of law enforcement to protect the ship and its crew from a variety of situations. The scenarios these Sailors train to combat can be completely unexpected. Unlike a planned strike on a target, security is a countermeasure for the low-tech, but highly threatening, situations that big bombs cannot feasibly handle.
“We have to be ready for everything in a moment’s notice,” said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Keith Danalewich, from Palos Hills, Ill., Security’s leading petty officer and the Stennis’ command investigator. “No preplanned response can cover everything.”
Fortunately, Security doesn’t respond to a major threat very often. On a day-to-day basis Security is operating to maintain good order and discipline throughout the ship, keeping “honest Sailors honest,” said Danalewich. Security’s responsibilities include cutting locks with lost keys, dealing with lost items, and tracking restricted personnel. Security also handles the prevention and investigations of crimes on board.
“Our normal operations may seem a bit mundane, but that’s not a bad thing.” said Seaman Ian Burke, from Columbia, S.C. “The day things aren’t normal is a very bad day for everyone.”
Burke is assigned to the ship’s Navy Security Force (NSF), the core group of Sailors that serve on the security team at sea. NSF members receive training on a spectrum of tactics and techniques, from diffusing tense situations and using non-lethal weapons to using firearms to sweep through and secure areas. Active shooters, bomb threats, swimmers and disorder are some of the dangers security is prepared to combat.
Our training realistically simulates the dangers we’re expected to face and teaches us how to properly respond, said Burke.
If the time comes and that response is needed, Stennis’ Security department is ready to face danger to protect our ship, said Burke.
When the threats are over the horizon, skilled pilots with scores of well-armed aircraft at their disposal are ready to launch missions to neutralize them, but, if a threat ever comes from closer, or even from inside, it will encounter the well-trained and capable repellent of Stennis’ security force.
Providing a combat-ready force to protect collective maritime interests, Stennis is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled Western Pacific deployment.