Archives for category: Big Navy Localized

Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Carla Ocampo
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Benjamin Crossley

The Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus visited the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) May 16 off the coast of southern California.

Mabus ate lunch with John C. Stennis Strike Group Warfare Commanders, observed flight deck operations and addressed Sailors to thank them for their service.

Upon arriving aboard Stennis, Mabus was welcomed by Commander, John C. Stennis Strike Group, Rear Adm. Joseph Aucoin, and Stennis’ Commanding Officer Capt. Ronald Reis.

In the hangar bay, Mabus addressed Sailors during an all hands call and talked about the important role the Navy plays in humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and the war on terror.

“There is no other country in the world that can do those things, and there is no other service in the world that can do those things, except the United States Navy and Marine Corps,” said Mabus.

During his speech, Mabus expressed his appreciation for Sailors’ efforts aboard Stennis and around the fleet.

“Thank you for what you do, day in and day out,” said Mabus. “What you do is hard, what you do is exhausting, what you do is dangerous, and what you do always requires sacrifice.”

Mabus, a Mississippi native, took time to shake hands and personally speak to Sailors from his home state.

“There’s a nice connection with him being from Mississippi, and this being a ship named after a Senator from Mississippi,” said Aviation Maintenance Administrationman Master Chief Rick Gilman (AW/SW), Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department leading chief petty officer.

Mabus answered questions from Sailors, including questions about Marines and Sailors in Afghanistan.

By taking time out of a busy schedule, Mabus’ visit demonstrated his pride for Sailors and what they do for the country.

“It was a morale booster,” said Information Systems Technician Chief (SW/AW) Wilfredo Casillas. “Sometimes folks lose focus and they think that the outside world doesn’t notice. The SECNAV’s visit shows that we’re being paid attention to and that what we do is important.”

John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is participating in a composite training unit exercise off the coast of southern California in preparation for deployment later this year.


IT2 Jason Clarkson conducts general military training on suicide prevention in the training complex aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.

Story and photo by MC3 Kenneth Abbate

Training is an ongoing process throughout a Sailor’s career, so USS John C. Stennis’ Training Department recently implemented a program in line with a new Navy instruction.

The Navy’s reorganization of annually required general military training (GMT) highlights topics that will help develop positive characteristics in Sailors.

The policy, outlined in NAVADMIN 098/10, emphasizes the importance of courses run by instructors, providing a more constructive learning environment for students.

“The crew of John C. Stennis adapted quickly to the new training requirements,” said Ship’s Training Officer Lt. Cmdr. Francis Brown. “With the new instructor-led courses, Sailors will be encouraged to ask question and participate, directly contributing to a better training experience rather than the previous means of training delivered at the individual level on the NKO computer-based systems.”

Stennis Sailors who know about the change anticipate a more effective training program.

“You can just click through a lot of NKO courses,” said Aviation Support Equipment Technician Airman Bryan Stanton. “Classes taught by instructors force you to participate, and I think most people absorb more information that way.”

While most training topics will remain a part of the regular training schedule, three subjects (hazing policy and prevention, fraternization awareness and prevention, and homosexual policy) were removed from the list but are still required for Sailors who plan on re-enlisting as of fiscal year 2010.

“These topics are obviously still extremely important and have been aligned for completion during a Sailor’s re-enlistment process,” said Brown. “Re-enlistment is an extremely important event in a Sailor’s career, and tying these topics into the re-enlistment training ensures that they receive the appropriate reinforcement at a critical time.”

“It seems to me the Navy realized they were wasting many man hours conducting training for individuals who have received the training multiple times,” said Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class Courtney Koenig. “The annual training was aimed at new Sailors, and the specified training is conducted at boot camp. A refresher training every few years makes more sense and doesn’t waste anyone’s time.”

Stennis’ Training Department has also incorporated several recommended training topics, such as Suicide Prevention and Personally Identifiable Information Assurance, which have been scheduled to coincide with certain periods throughout the year.

“The GMT topics line up well with certain events in the calendar and the ship’s cycle,” said Brown. “For instance, the holiday period is traditionally the time of the year when more suicides occur, so it makes perfect sense to get our awareness levels up to be able to identify risk factors and signs to help combat the problem.”

Whether Sailors are new or “salty,” the guidance provided in GMTs creates a stronger, more informed fleet that is better suited to successfully complete missions across the globe.

A photo-illustration of a Sailor holding a lit cigarette by MC3 Chase Corbin.

Story by MC3 Chase Corbin

With sweat beading up on his grease-covered forehead and a cigarette hanging from his lips, a Sailor struggles to heave the line. This Hollywood image has been glamorized for years, but could soon be lost at sea.

Commander, Submarine Forces (COMSUBFOR) implemented a policy earlier this year which banned smoking below decks aboard U.S. submarines by Dec. 31.

According to a year-long study by Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory in 2009, all Sailors aboard submarines were exposed to considerable amounts of secondhand smoke.
The ban on cigarettes on submarines is arguably the boldest move in banning tobacco in naval history.

Along with food and water, cigarettes were included in emergency rations for decades, a testament to tobacco’s addictive stranglehold on Navy personnel. The Navy has progressively worked to deglamorize and discourage tobacco use. Today, you won’t find a pack of smokes in your emergency provisions.

“Smoking is literally burning time,” said Seaman Brad McMillion. “That time could be used to do something more productive.”

Though Navy officials have not hinted at a fleet-wide ban on tobacco use, the thought looms in the back of the minds of smokers and non-smokers alike.

“A ban here would make it a lot easier for me, since I don’t smoke,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuels) Airman Apprentice Donald Jackson. “It really messes with my lungs. I tend to start coughing a lot around smoke.”

Though some Sailors believe the benefits of a ban would outweigh the disadvantages, others believe it would have a negative effect on morale.

“Recent studies have shown that smokers comprise an average of 20 percent of Americans, including naval personnel,” said Operations Specialist 2nd
Class William Dodd. “Eliminating smoking on surface ships alienates that large portion of the crew, and could be severely detrimental to fleet readiness and crew morale.”

There would be many resources for tobacco users to utilize if a fleet-wide ban were to take place.

“We would provide the medication Zyban, which is supposed to decrease withdrawal symptoms and a nicotine patch,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Julia Elliott. “It’s a three-step program designed to bring an individual off a nicotine addiction.”

Despite all the help Sailors would receive, some believe there would still be a rough transition period.

“This place would be very cranky, grumpy and irritable,” said Elliott, “The ship might run out of food and candy because people will eat instead of smoke.”

“If they were to ban smoking, I wouldn’t want to work here. The ship would be crazy,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman Jordan Jackson.

Smokers aboard surface ships can still get their nicotine fix for now, but with the Navy’s new approach to smoking aboard subs their days could be numbered.

Fire Controlmen feed 20mm tungsten rounds into one of the close-in-weapons systems (CIWS) aboard Stennis. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate.)

Story and photo by
MC3 Kenneth Abbate

With the words ‘missile inbound from the port side’ roaring over the 1MC during general quarters, one can’t help but wonder: What are the ship’s defensive measures should drill become reality?

John C. Stennis’ Combat Systems and Weapons Departments are responsible for maintaining and operating the ship’s weapons systems.

As Stennis prepares to go back to sea from a planned maintenance period, the operability of its defense systems is vital to ensure its warfare capability.

“When a target becomes hostile, the Tactical Action Officer (TAO) will announce over the 1MC ‘man all air defense stations’,” said Fire Controlman 2nd Class (SW/AW) Christopher Heiser. “All fire controlmen not on watch will spring into action. We will have all our systems armed and ready within seven minutes. We can track and engage several targets at the same time, which ensures that nothing will get past us.”

Combat Systems uses three different weapons 2010systems based on distance from the target and severity of the situation; the Re-architectured NATO Sea Sparrow Missile System (RNSSMS), Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) and close-in-weapons-system (CIWS). Weapons Department uses .50 caliber and M240 machine guns designed to protect the ship from small boat contacts.

The RNSSMS is the first line of defense, able to take out any incoming air or surface targets within 9-12 nautical miles. RAM, the second line of defense, can engage air targets inside 5-7 nautical miles. The CIWS provides the last line of defense by taking out targets within one nautical mile.

“The ship’s defensive weapons are the last thing between you and an incoming attack,” said Operations Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Kyle Novak, who worked with Counter Rocket Artillery Mortar systems, the shore version of CIWS, while filling an individual augmentee billet in Balad, Iraq in 2009. “CIWS in particular is great because it will lock on directly to whatever is inbound and will not stop shooting until the target is destroyed.”

Most Sailors never experience the fear of facing a real life threat that requires them to react on instinct. In the case of Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class David Jones, skills and training were put to the test when reacting to a threat while deployed last year.

“On the 2009 deployment, we were approached by an unidentified surface contact during night flights where we had to react,” said Jones. “My adrenaline was pumping and I was running on pure instinct. Nothing else mattered except protecting the ship and doing my job.”

According to Fire Controlman 1st Class (SW/AW) Gordon Jacobs, all weapons systems are critical to the protection of the ship and crew.

“It is the last line of defense,” said Jacobs. “Once something gets past the aircraft, the weapons systems and the machine guns are instrumental in protecting the ship.”

John C. Stennis weapons systems are a deterrent and protect against incoming threats, allowing Stennis to safely complete missions at home and abroad.

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