Archives for category: Deployment 2011

Story & Photo by MC2 Eddie Harrison
Sailors from USS Pinckney (DDG 91) volunteered time to visit classrooms and play sports with students of the InternationalCommunitySchool in Singapore, Sept. 8, as part of a community service (COMSERV) project.

The 19 Pinckney Sailors arrived on campus and were greeted with waves and smiles from students as they made their way to meet with the principal, event coordinator, and staff.

“I think that anytime someone is in the armed forces of any kind or any branch, they are held pretty high up,” said Assistant Elementary Principal Marta Herring. “So for our kids to get a chance to meet and greet and see everyone in uniform and to just be able to find out what you guys do, they will be fascinated.”

Introductions were followed by a photo shoot as class after class waited in line for their turn to meet the Sailors. Handshakes were exchanged and high-fives were flying as children and Sailors greeted each other. “Smile, look over here, say cheese,” were some of the things heard as members of the staff tried to focus the children’s attention for the perfect shot.

Once finished, the volunteers wasted no time beginning the day’s events.

The group divided to maximize student involvement. Some Sailors changed into Navy P.T. gear and prepared for soccer, basketball, sprint racing and group stretching, while others visited classrooms to talk about their jobs, answer questions and read children’s books to the pre-school class. Questions ranged from, “Do you get sea sick?” to “What kind of missiles do you have on board?”

At the end of one class visit, Sailors spent time signing autographs. The Sailors were as grateful for interaction as the school children were.

“I have two kids of my own back home,” said volunteer, Operations Specialist 2nd Class Celeste Caldwell. “So just to get out there and play with the kids and see them smiling and having fun was awesome.”

As everyone wrapped up the events and changed back into their uniforms, the Sailors and some of the teachers went to the eating area to cool down, eat and have another chance to interact with the kids.

“They were so excited just to see the American faces, because some of them are actually from America; it was like a small taste of home,” said Caldwell. “I am hoping that we can do stuff like this at every single port we go to, because I think being able to interact with locals, ask them questions, them ask us questions, is pretty awesome.”

When lunch was finished, children could be seen giving hugs, giving high fives and thanking everyone for coming.

Before departing campus, the Sailors went into some of the classrooms and handed out command ball caps and coins, thanking the teachers and children for the chance to visit.

The InternationalcommunitySchool in Singapore has more than 400 students from pre-school to 12th-grade and from countries ranging from Singapore, Indonesia, China, Japans, the United States and Australia.

Pinckney, an Arleigh-Burke class guided missile destroyer, is part of the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group and is deployed to the western Pacific Ocean and Arabian Gulf.


Story by MC3 Kevin Murphy
Photo by MC2 Walter Wayman

Sailors going to the 5th fleet area of operations can anticipate an increased operational tempo, hot weather, and greater danger, but they can also look forward to more money in their pockets.

Beginning September 15, Stennis Sailors are scheduled to receive Combat Zone Tax Exclusion Pay, and Hostile Fire/Imminent Danger Pay.

With tax exclusion pay, Sailors are exempt from paying taxes on their base pay and will also receive $225 a month in hostile fire imminent danger pay.

“The tax-free pay goes into effect as soon as we enter the fifth fleet,” said Personnel Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Scott Hitchcock, Administration department’s military pay customer service leading petty officer. “If we serve in a designated combat zone for at least one day, we are entitled to federal tax exclusion for the whole month. So we will get reimbursed the money we pay in federal taxes for September in our October paychecks.”

Each tax-free paycheck that a Sailor receives will not be averaged into their annual income when they file their tax returns. Hitchcock said this will put Sailors in a lower tax bracket and potentially give them the opportunity to receive a more lucrative tax return.

The tax exemption includes selective re-enlistment bonuses (SRB). Sailors who reenlist in the designated combat zone will not pay federal taxes for an SRB.

“For example, if a Sailor reenlists for a bonus of $40,000 and they receive $20,000 up front and the rest in allotments, they won’t pay taxes on any of it,” said Hitchcock. Even if they don’t receive the allotments until after we exit the combat danger zone.”

Some Sailors are excited about getting more money and are making plans on what to do with a little extra dough.

“The money we will receive is a blessing,” said Hitchcock. “It’s a great opportunity to save up a nice chunk of change. I am going to save my money and take my family on vacation when I get back to the states.”

“I am definitely going to save my money for a new car,” said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Sylvester Jones. “I think getting paid the extra money is important because there is a possibility we can get hurt in a danger zone, and it motivates Sailors to do their job more efficiently while they work under strenuous circumstances.”

The imminent danger pay is categorized under special pay on a Sailor’s leave and earning statement (LES).

Getting paid more money for being in the Arabian Gulf and operating in a danger zone is one way the government compensates Sailors for the sacrifice and service they give their country day in and day out.

Story & Photo by MC2 Heather Seelbach

Sailors from the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG) departed Port Klang, Malaysia, Sept. 8 after a scheduled four-day port visit.

During the port visit, Sailors volunteered in five community service projects (COMSERV) at local shelters and group homes.

“Projects like these can have a profound impact on how we are perceived by the Malaysian people,” said JCSCSG Commander Rear Adm. Craig Faller. “Simple acts of kindness now, can have affect long after we have sailed.”

During the COMSERV projects, Sailors from USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and USS Dewey (DDG 105) brought needed supplies and spent time entertaining and interacting with Malaysian locals.

“COMSERV projects are extremely important because it helps us to better understand the community that we’re in and it helps them to better understand us,” said Gas Turbine System Technician (Electrical) 3rd Class Glenna Rankin, a Mobile Bay Sailor who volunteered at Rumah Juara children’s home Sept. 6. “I think it’s a wonderful experience.”

Sailors also provided distinguished visitors with tours of the ship and hosted a reception for dignitaries and military officials from several countries.

JCSCSG has additional community outreach efforts slated for upcoming ports, in an effort to build and strengthen international relations.

“I think the most important thing about us getting out and helping the community is that you can see it in people’s faces.” said USS John C. Stennis Commanding Officer Capt. Ron Reis. “They are ecstatic. They have an opportunity to interface with our Sailors and that interaction is positive.”

Story by MC3 Dugan Flynn
Photo by MC2 Walter Wayman

Moving 450,000 gallons of JP5, 300 pallets of vital stores, and more than 30 pallets of crew mail could be considered a great effort, but that’s exactly what sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis accomplish each week.

Teams comprised of Sailors from Supply, Air, and Deck Departments, as well as many others, come together to perform replenishments at sea (RAS) on a regular basis while on deployment.

“RAS are vital not only operationally, but also for crew support,” said Boatswains Mate 2nd Class (SW/SC) Alex Armour, a rig captain assigned to Stennis’ Deck Department. “It’s the method which we receive fuel and necessary stores that come aboard the ship. It’s also important because that’s how we get our mail. It has a great impact on morale to allow personnel to get packages and letters from loved ones back home.”

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Eric Smith, the Fuels Boatswain, said when flight operations are in progress, the aircraft on board consume an average of 120,000 gallons a day and must replenish up to 1,000,000 gallons every seven to ten days.

“Without fuel, our planes can’t fly and we’re dead in the water,” said Smith. “To maintain sustainability and launch aircraft, it’s very important that we get the fuel, clean it and deliver it to the planes.”

To ensure the fuel is the best quality Stennis could possibly receive, the fuel lab must run a series of tests on it before filling the ship’s fuel tanks.

“The first thing we do when we take in fuel from another ship is make sure it’s JP5,” said Smith. “At the beginning of the fueling process, we take a sample to the Quality Assurance lab. The main thing I’m looking for is the appearance and flashpoint to be 140 degrees or above.”

During extended periods out at sea, a RAS is important to bring the supplies to the ship when it isn’t feasible to pull into a port.

“The main importance of a RAS is to replenish the carrier out at sea,” said Senior Chief Logistics Specialist Gerard Penrose, Stennis’ hangar bay and safety coordinator for the RAS. “This allows us to stay on station so we don’t have to pull into port every time we need to get supplies again.”

It takes the efforts and teamwork of the entire ship to complete a RAS and ensure the whole evolution is safe and efficient said Penrose.

“The RAS is not just a supply evolution,” said Penrose, “It’s an entire ship evolution. We as supply couldn’t do it without Deck Department, the Navigation team, the Bridge team; every individual plays a key role in the successful onload of materials onboard the ship.”

Replenishments at sea play a vital role for ship’s readiness by maintaining maximum efficiency while conducting extended operations out to sea.

JCS Public Affairs

High winds and seas led the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG) to cancel the scheduled port visit in Manila.

“We regret not being able to visit our long standing partners, families and friends, but the weather just didn’t cooperate. We agreed with the advice from the Filipino Coast Guard that conditions were too dangerous,” said USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Commanding Officer, Capt. Ronald Reis.

Stennis was originally scheduled to arrive in Manila Saturday but had to reschedule to Sunday in hopes that weather would improve. As Typhoon Mina lingered over the Philippines the visit was officially cancelled.

“We have a long standing alliance with the Philippines and we looked forward to our visit but safety is always a priority for us,” said Commander, JCSCSG Rear Adm. Craig Faller.

The JCSCSG is comprised of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21, which includes guided-missile destroyers, USS Pinckney (DDG 91); USS Kidd (DDG 100); USS Dewey (DDG 105); and USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108).

The embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 on board John C. Stennis includes Strike Fighter Squadrons (VFA) 14, (VFA) 41, (VFA) 97, (VFA) 192; Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 112; Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 133; Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 8; Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71; and Carrier Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30.

JCSCSG will continue on its scheduled deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet and 5th Fleet areas of responsibility, which includes the western Pacific Ocean and Arabian Gulf. John C. Stennis’ last deployment to 7th Fleet was in 2009.

Story by MC1 Grant Ammon
Photo by MC1 Dennis Cantrell

As the USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG) travels west and visits ports around the globe, leaders throughout the strike group are implementing plans aimed at safe and successful port visits with the crew serving as ambassadors and a goal of zero liberty incidents.

The effort of focus, ‘Liberty with a Purpose … Every Sailor Impacts the Mission’, is a comprehensive program designed to enable the Sailors of JCSCSG to productively serve the nation in the role of Sailor-Ambassadors while having fun and enjoying the culture of a host country.

“We are ambassadors of the United States every time we set foot on foreign soil,” said Stennis’ Command Master Chief (AW/SW/ SS) Stan Jewett. “Our Sailors may

very well be the only Americans that citizens of host countries ever encounter. Their perception of what America is and who Americans are can be created by the actions of the Sailors from this ship and the embarked air wing.”

While Sailors are encouraged to enjoy their liberty by taking in local attractions or learning more about a host nation’s culture, they also carry with them the responsibility of creating and fostering a positive image for the United States.

“Our goal is for our Sailors to have fun with zero incidents, but they are still on a mission,” said Jewett. “Making a port visit is actually a diplomatic mission for the crew. We need to keep in mind that we’re a part of something larger than ourselves. We represent our ship, the United States Navy and our nation.”

According to Carrier Air Wing 9’s Command Master Chief (AW/ SCW) Bill Rosch, successful mission accomplishment requires in-depth planning prior to execution, because positive achievement does not happen by accident.

“When our Sailors depart on liberty they’re expected to have a solid plan so they’re less likely to be in a position to make bad decisions,” said Rosch. “This stuff needs to be thought out ahead of time.”

Rosch went on to compare the mission of liberty to the operational mission of the crew while serving at sea.

“We don’t just put jets on catapults and hope they launch successfully,” said Rosch. “We don’t put Sailors on the brow and hope they have a successful liberty mission. This is definitely a planned evolution.”

One principle tenant of ‘Liberty with a Purpose’ calls for tapping into and empowering the leadership and experience of the Chiefs Mess. The sage advice coming from divisional and departmental Chief Petty Officers will provide professional and personal behavior models for the Sailors they lead.

“We, as representatives from the Chiefs Mess, need to have Sailors thinking about and creating liberty plans well before we arrive in a foreign port,” said Jewett. “Then we’re going to ensure each plan is thoroughly reviewed to see if they pass the common sense test. If the plans don’t pass the test, we need to get our Sailors on track before an issue occurs. ”

As the JCSCSG conducts operations around the world, crew members focus their efforts on bringing the same pride and professionalism to the mission of liberty as they bring to direct fleet operations.

JCSCSG arrived in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations Aug. 16. While in 7th Fleet, the carrier strike group will conduct maritime engagements and port visits to enhance partnerships and promote peace and stability in the region.

Story & Photo by MC3 Dugan Flynn

A Sailor aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) is instructing a group of Sailors in the martial art of Goju Ryu Karate.

Cryptologic Technician (Networks) 1st Class (IDW) Scot Mertz has been practicing Karate since the age of five and has been teaching the art professionally since 1996.

“It’s something to give back to people,” said Mertz. “It gives them something to do and focus on. It gives them a goal. It also helps them forget the fact that they are on a deployment for seven months.”

Mertz plans on covering all the material in this martial art up to the black belt skill level.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will be promoted to black belt,” said Mertz. “But I’m trying to at least expose them to all the material.”

Mertz hopes to have at least one student achieve black belt during this deployment.

“I’ve been practicing for five years and teaching for two,” said Operations Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Trish Duong, Mertz’s assistant. “I hope to get a black belt in Goju. It’s a different branch for me. It’s something new for me and I wanted to enhance my knowledge in different styles of martial arts.”

Members interested in the Karate class had to sign an injury waiver to join the class.

“This art is full-contact,” said Mertz. “I’m not going to be teaching the sparring and stuff, but Goju Ryu is typically heavy-contact.”

Duong said martial arts is beneficial not only for physical exercise, but for other areas in her life as well.

“Not only does it get the body in shape, but it also helps clear the mind from stress,” said Duong. “It helps with focus and concentration with school and work-related activities.”

The Karate Club meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2000 in hangar bay one. For more information, email Mertz at

Story by MC3 Dugan Flynn
Photo by MC2 Walter Wayman

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 embarked USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Thursday, in preparation for deployment.

CVW-9 will deploy with Stennis on the seven-month deployment to assist in the war efforts in Afghanistan and support regional stability in the Western Pacific and Persian Gulf.

Half of the squadrons in CVW-9 will be joining Stennis on deployment for the first time; the VAQ-133 Wizards flying the EA-6B Prowlers, VFA-192 Golden Dragons flying the F/A-18’s, the VFA-14 Tophatters and VFA-41 Black Aces flying the F/A- 18E/F Super Hornets.

“This is my first deployment and I’m excited about it,” said Aviation Machinist’s Mate Airman Patrick Christensen. “I’m really looking forward to seeing other cultures and the ways other people live.”

The mission of CVW-9 is to act as air power to eliminate enemy threats and provide support to both the strike group and American ground forces overseas.

“We will go out and accomplish whatever mission we are given from higher above,” said Senior Chief Aviation Electronics Technician (AW/ SW) Dietrich Ahner. “It’s about doing our part to support the global effort to combat the war on terrorism, support our national policies, and the projection of our forces afloat.”

CVW-9 will also be available to help with community relations projects and humanitarian efforts as they arise while in foreign ports.

“I plan to help out with a few community relations projects this deployment,” said Christensen. “It will be good to talk to people of other countries and experience their way of life for a little while.”

This deployment, Stennis and CVW- 9 will work together to maintain U.S. global presence and protect American interests around the world.

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