Archives for category: Operational


Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Carla Ocampo
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Benjamin Crossley

USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG) completed a successful Joint Task Force Training Exercise (JTFEX) June 8 off the coast of Southern California.

“Our crew could not have performed better,” said John C. Stennis Commanding Officer Capt. Ron Reis. “It was through top down bottom up leadership intertwined with a collective sea warrior spirit that we consistently perform at such a high level. Sailors aboard Stennis are trained and ready to meet national tasking. Teamwork, superior skills and warfighting ethos will enable us to successfully meet any challenge we may confront during deployment.”

JTFEX is the second major training evolution for Stennis following Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) in May.

JCSCSG is made up of John C. Stennis, CVW-9 (Carrier Air Wing 9), guided missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), and DESRON 21; guided missile destroyers USS Kidd (DDG 100), USS Dewey (DDG 105), USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and USS Pinckney (DD G91).

JTFEX was a week-long exercise designed to test JCSCSG’s ability to operate in a hostile environment.

Throughout JTFEX, JCSCSG dealt with an assortment of simulated attacks, such as torpedoes and missile attacks from enemy aircraft and ships. General quarters was called depending on the response needed.

“The idea of JTFEX is to stress the importance of procedures and planned responses to certain threats and get into a tactical mind-set,” said Lt. Ji Theriot, one of Stennis’ tactical action officers.

JTFEX tested the capability of JCSCG to operate with multinational forces and other military branches in a joint environment to combat the simulated threats.

“The scenario was started where we left off during COMPTUEX,” said Operations Specialist Master Chief (SW/AW) Brian Basset, operations department leading chief petty officer. “We continued to focus on our role in a joint environment while conducting sea combat operations.”

The constant flux of drills kept Sailors directly involved on alert and busy throughout the six- day exercise.

“JTFEX was packed with action, we were constantly moving,” said Theriot. “Problems operated around the clock, which was more realistic than the previous exercise.”

JTFEX was the final test JCSCSG had to demonstrate they can act and react as a cohesive fighting unit.

“We are ready for anything, but we need to continue to do better at everything we do,” said Stennis’ Executive Officer Capt. Michael Wettlaufer. “Continuous training is required to maintain readiness throughout deployment in order to be ready to do the nation’s bidding.”

With JTFEX complete, JCSCSG is ready for the upcoming deployment to the Western Pacific and Central Command areas of operation to conduct maritime security operations.

“JCS Strike Group Sailors have performed exceedingly well during JTFEX. I am extremely proud of everyone’s efforts as we faced a complex battle problem; without a doubt the most challenging scenario presented to any Carrier Strike Group,” said Commander, John C. Stennis Strike Group Rear Adm. Craig Faller. “These events put us through our paces in a short period of time. In the end we proved that we are combat ready, prepared to take the fight to the enemy, and assist those in need across the globe. This would not have been possible if it weren’t for the focused efforts of all hands and solid deckplate leadership.”


Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dugan Flynn
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Crishanda McCall

Carrier Air Wing 9 (CVW-9) is training with Stennis during Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) to prepare for deployment.

CVW-9 is comprised of many components which have come together for JTFEX to prove battle readiness.

“In my opinion, JCS Strike Group has greatly advanced US Navy warfighting with their outstanding performance in JTFEX,” said Commander, Strike Force Training Pacific Rear Adm. Tom Cropper. “Great attention to detail, solid teamwork and quick improvements to identified problems made the difference. So did good old-fashioned, on-the-scene deckplate leadership.”

CVW-9 is comprised of Fighter, Helicopter, Electronic Warfare, Early Warning, and Logistics Support squadrons, each specifically designed to accomplish multiple tasks to conduct war fighting operations and defend the ship.

The Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 112 Golden Hawks, flying the E-2C Hawkeye, are part of the Early Warning component of CVW-9.

“The E-2s look over the horizon and paint the picture for us,” said Deputy Commander, Carrier Airwing 9, Capt. Dell Bull. “They are going to look for any surface or air contacts. That way when we launch our fighters, bombers, and our helicopters, we know what’s out there.”

The MH-60R Seahawks flown by the Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71 Raptors have unique radar capabilities to detect and destroy submarines.

“The Seahawks don’t have the range that the E-2 Hawkeyes have, but they have equipment and radar on board that helps us fill in the gaps,” said Bull. “They can detect submarines’ periscopes, and they have certain equipment that can dip into the water to hear submarines. That’s putting a protective shield around the bottom of the ship from submarine threats.”

The Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 8 Eightballers fly the MH-60S Knight Hawks to conduct combat search and rescue missions as well as provide additional support during vertical replenishments.

“If a plane crashes anywhere around the Stennis, those guys are specially trained to come and get us,” said Bull. “If they have to come get us in a hostile area, they are armed with machine guns on either side of them. Additionally during JTFEX, we had a team of Navy Seals on board Stennis to work with the Air Wing, and HSC-8 delivered them to their targets.”

The Carrier Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 133 Wizards flying the EA-6B Prowlers are part of the Electronic Warfare component of CVW-9 and use their special abilities to jam enemy radar to protect the fighter squadrons.

“If we have to go after targets on shore that are threatening the strike group, the EA-6B squadrons are imperative,” said Bull. “They’ll fly in with us and carry specialized missiles to destroy the enemy’s radar so we can get in and out unseen. They’re there protecting us as well.”

Stennis has four fighter squadrons, two that fly the F/A-18C Hornet; Strike Fighter Squadrons (VFA-97 Warhawks and VFA-192 Golden Dragons), one that flies the F/A-18F Super Hornet (VFA-41 Black Aces), and one that flies F/A-18E Super Hornet (VFA-14 Tophatters).

“All four squadrons are very capable in both air to air and air to ground combat,” said Bull. “All the squadrons, when launched, will link up through a link 16 network with Stennis to the rest of the ships, and E-2, so we can see what’s on their radar and vice-versa and then we have this network centric warfare with Stennis in the center of it.”

VRC-30 Providers flying the C-2 Greyhound, which is also known as the Carrier Onboard Delivery Squadron (CODS) provide logistics support to Stennis supplying vital personnel and equipment to the ship even when many miles away from land.

“Last but not least, we have the COD detachment,” said Bull. “They are an integral part to keep us supplied with parts, mail and anything the strike group needs. You can fit a lot in the back of that airplane. They’re a great part of the team; we couldn’t do it without them.”

The Air Wing is a combination of many different capabilities that when brought together is greater than any of the capabilities alone said Bull.

“We are here for COMPTUEX and JTFEX to sharpen that sword,” said Bull. “We are going out shortly on deployment to kill the people that need to be killed, and protect our military and our allies’ forces on the ground, and frankly to protect the people that can’t protect themselves.”

Stennis, CVW-9, and John C. Stennis Strike Group have been working together during JTFEX to ensure fleet and mission readiness and the needs in preparation for deployment to accomplish US maritime strategy at home and abroad.

“I am confident that the proven warfighters in this strike group will aggressively implement their lessons learned from JTFEX in the time before deployment,” said Cropper. “When they do, JCSSG will be unbeatable in combat.”

MC3 Lex T. Wenberg
Capt. Dale Horan welcomes Cmdr. Todd Glasser on the flight deck after the aerial change of command ceremony.
The Raptors of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71 performed an aerial change of command ceremony above Stennis during which Cmdr. Todd Glasser relieved Cmdr. Jeffrey Vorce as commanding officer of HSM-71 yesterday.
Vorce, a Chula Vista, California native, says his achievements as commander stem from those he worked with in the squadron.
“The biggest success we’ve had recently is the integration into Air Wing 9,” said Vorce. “The air wing here is second to none.”
Vorce oversaw the squadron through the deployment workup phase up to and including the composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX), which enables the air wing and the strike group function as a whole.
Captain Dale E. Horan, Commander, Carrier Air Wing 9, presented Vorce with the Meritorious Service Award in recognition of his achievements in command of (HSM) 71 at the reception and cake-cutting
ceremony after the in-flight portion.
“The upcoming deployment is going to be amazing,” said Vorce. “I think it’s going to be incredibly successful. And I think you’ll continue to see the Raptors, Stennis and the four destroyers that we support from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21; USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108), USS Kidd (DDG 100), USS Dewey (DDG 105), and USS Pinckney (DDG 91) continue to do amazing things.”
Glasser, a Concordville, Penn. native, takes command of the Raptors following a tour providing Counter-Radio Controlled Improvised Explosive Device (RC-IED) services to the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division in Iraq.
“I’m very excited for deployment,” said Glasser. “These guys have been great. The crew has hit it out of the park.”
Glasser said he feels challenged by the opportunity to lead the Raptors.
“The team has set a really high bar in demonstrating what the air wing’s capable of,” said Glasser.
John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is out to sea and beginning the Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) which integrates the strike group with the other services in preparation for deployment.

PACIFIC OCEAN (June 2, 2011) Commanding Officer Cmdr. Todd Glasser departs his MH-60R Knighthawk from the Raptors of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71 after his aerial change of command aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is conducting a Joint Task Force Exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Kenneth Abbate/Released)


Story and photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Carla Ocampo

Whether Sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis work on the flight deck, the mess decks or in reactor spaces, it’s an all hands mission to protect each other, and the same is true on social networking sites.

Sailors actively use sites like Facebook and Twitter to communicate with peers and family, and Stennis’ network security administrators rely heavily on the responsible activity of each Sailor who carefully uses them.

“Social networking is a great tool, but a lot of people don’t understand the consequences of using it inappropriately,” said Information Systems Technician 1st Class (SW/AW) Eric Ebe, Stennis’ network security officer.

When posting personal information, Ebe warns that Sailors can put themselves, their families and their shipmates at risk.

“Anybody can gather information about you and your friends,” said Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Omar Hernandez, one of Stennis’ automated data processing help desk technicians.

Operational security is critical to the mission and safety of Sailors, said Hernandez. Sailors should not post sensitive information like deployment dates, kinds of weapons on the ship, and names of other Sailors. Any information posted to social networking sites can potentially be used to cause harm.

“Everything fits into a larger piece of the puzzle, said Ebe. “It’s the little things that count.”

Some applications on social networking sites can update Sailors’ exact location. Strangers can use that information to track them down and thieves can figure out they’re not home, said Ebe.

“It’s almost like putting up a sign saying ‘I’m not home, please rob me,” said Ebe. “All of this can be stopped if Sailors just change their privacy settings.”

Hernandez said it is also important for Sailors to be selective about whom they add as friends, especially if they don’t know them. People can send spam, malicious links and hack Sailors’ accounts to get further information about them. “Think twice about what you post, because once you post it, you can’t remove it,” said Hernandez.

For further information about the appropriate use of social networking sites, Sailors can visit Navy Knowledge Online at http://www.nko.navy.mil. Operational security is critical to protecting Sailors, the families and the successful accomplishment of mission requirements.

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kathleen O’Keefe
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate

The USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG) began its composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) yesterday after pulling out of San Diego.

COMPTUEX, a three-week evolution required of each carrier strike group before departing for a deployment overseas, will allow JCSCSG to deploy to any theatre of operations in the world.

“COMPTUEX is the cornerstone of our workup cycle,” said Stennis’ Strike Operations Officer, Cmdr. Stevin Johnson. “It will be the first full integration with the strike group, in which we will train for operations that we might face on deployment.”

Stennis will work with embarked Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW) 9, Destroyer Squadron Twenty One (DESRON 21), USS Mobile Bay and other independent Navy ships in combating different scenarios presented by Commander, Strike Force Training Forces Pacific (CSFTP).

“COMPTUEX really makes everyone come together as a team, said Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class (SW/AW) Patrick McKeever, who participated in COMPTUEX with Stennis during its last deployment cycle. “On a large scale all the ships come together and train for deployment. Internally, the ship’s company trains with essentially everyone that will be on deployment. It really prepares the entire strike group for successful operations when we deploy.”

The scenarios led by CSFTP will challenge ships, the air wing, and the entire strike group, in their ability to handle a variety of circumstances the strike group could potentially encounter while deployed. CSFTP will evaluate the strike group and present results to Commander, U.S. Third Fleet.

“We will be demonstrating the strike group’s combat efficiency,” said Stennis Executive Officer Capt. Michael Wettlaufer. “Everything on Stennis will be a key part to the success. From our communication links, satellites, launching aircraft, down to the propulsion plants, Stennis will act as a huge piece in this exercise.”

The cruiser and destroyers in the strike group will act as defense perimeters against air, submarine and surface threats, protecting Stennis so it can project its force abroad.

“COMPTUEX is the final stone, and will bring us into joint task force exercise [JTFEX], where other branches of the military will work with the strike group and we can train as a joint service,” said Johnson.

JTFEX is the final exercise Stennis and the strike group must complete before deployment.

COMPTUEX will bring JCSCSG ships and aircraft together to prepare a force capable of protecting the nation’s interests and security anywhere in the world.

Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Josue Escobosa
Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kevin Murphy

The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG) is set for composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) off the coast of southern California.

COMPTUEX is a three-week evolution required of each carrier strike group before departing for a deployment overseas.

“COMPTUEX is the cornerstone of our workup cycle,” said Stennis’ Strike Operations Officer, Cmdr. Stevin Johnson. “It will be the first full integration with the strike group, in which we will train for operations that we might face on deployment.”

Stennis will work with embarked Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW- 9), Destroyer Squadron Twenty One (DESRON 21), and other independent Navy ships in combating different scenarios presented by Commander, Strike Force Training Forces Pacific (CSFTP).

“The scenarios can vary from training in peaceful operations, to limited engagements to full engagement conflict situations,” said Johnson. “COMPTUEX will prepare Stennis and its strike group to realistically handle any crisis operation that may arise on deployment.”

“We will be demonstrating the strike group’s combat efficiency,” said Stennis Executive Officer Capt. Michael Wettlaufer. “Everything on Stennis will be a key part to the success. From our communication links, satellites, launching aircraft, down to the propulsion plants, Stennis will act as a huge piece in this exercise.”

The cruisers and destroyers in the strike group will act as defense perimeters against air, submarine and surface threats, protecting Stennis so it can project its force.

“COMPTUEX is the final stone, and will bring us into joint task force exercise [JTFEX], where other branches of the military will work with the strike group and we can train as a joint service,” said Johnson.

JTFEX is the final evaluation exercise Stennis and the strike group must complete before deployment this summer.

COMPTUEX and JTFEX will bring ships and aircraft together to prepare a force capable of protecting the nation’s interests and security anywhere in the world.

JCSCSG is made up of USS John C. Stennis, CVW-9, guided missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) and DESRON 21, which includes guided missile destroyers USS Kidd (DDG 100), USS Dewey (DDG 105) and USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108).


Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jamie Hawkins
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate

Whether Stennis’ Interior Communications Electricians (IC) are keeping Sailors connected through their telephones at sea or through their favorite sports television broadcast on land, their mission of keeping the ship’s communications equipment maintained at optimal levels at all times is vital to shipboard operations.

ICs are responsible for a myriad of systems, including video distribution equipment, telephone systems, ships’ force protection cameras, integrated launch and recovery television surveillance (iLARTS), and general alarm systems aboard Stennis.

“What we do is very critical, especially for a ship,” said Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class (SW) Christopher Stough, who has worked with IC equipment for over 12 years. “On a daily basis we have to repair 10 telephones. If we can’t talk to each other quickly then we lose efficiency, and everyone has a bad day.”

The diversity of the IC rate requires Sailors to work for different departments aboard Stennis.

“On a carrier the main departments ICs work for are Air, Engineering and Combat Systems,” said Stough. “We have a lot of work to do all around the ship whereas ICs on smaller ships might only work for Combat Systems. When ICs are on shore they usually work at repair facilities fixing phones and other gear.”

Every Sailor, military dependent, or government contractor who turns on a television or picks up a telephone on military facilities is utilizing an IC system, but the rate is not widely known beyond those who interact with ICs to achieve their mission.

“The television would have to be the easiest and most well known thing we do on the ship along with the flight deck cameras that record all launch and recoveries,” said Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Monty W. Starkey. “The dead reckoning system that tracks our movements in the water is one of our more challenging and less widely known systems.”

The IC Sailor can be found throughout the Navy working on systems from studio lighting for Mass Communication Specialists to alarm warnings in a weapons magazine with Aviation Ordnancemen aboard aircraft carriers.

“We are everywhere,” said Stough. “I started my career in V-2 Division on a carrier. We have the alarm warning shop, the regular and sound powered telephone shop and television control. We are a cross between EMs (Electrician’s Mate) and ETs (Electronics Technician).”

Like every Sailor, an IC must be well trained, but capable of taking on challenges outside of their realm of expertise.

“I personally have done a lot of work for the off ship communications and internet,” said Starkey. “Generally speaking, ICs handle a lot of stuff that we have no formal training for, but we get the job done.”

For ICs like Starkey and Stough, it’s this constant change, the challenges in need of solutions, that they joined the Navy for.

“I love my job,” said Stough. “Every day is something new. There is always a new challenge to overcome.”

From ships to shore, ICs keep the lines of communication open, enabling Sailors to accomplish various missions across the globe.

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