Archives for category: Weapons Department

Aviation Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Bryan Darlington signals to a helicopter on the flight deck during a VERTREP.

Story and photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate

Stennis successfully completed an ammunition on load yesterday with dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE 10).

Stennis received a total of 207 ordnance crates while also sending out 30 surplus crates through vertical replenishment and connected replenishment.

Two MH-60S Knighthawk’s from the “Golden Falcons” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 12 moved ordnance from the Charles Drew to Stennis’ flight deck while Stennis Sailors accepted weapons in hangar bays two and three.

“The flow in the hangar bay was a lot more difficult than the flight deck because ordnance was coming down from elevator four while Deck Department was receiving ordnance using the sliding padeye,” said Stennis’ Ordnance Handling Officer (OHO) Lt. Cmdr. Bill Donals. “We had Sailors taking crates from the elevators and stacking them while others were moving them to the weapons elevators to be taken down to the magazines.”

According to Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Michael Washa, Sailors from the flight deck worked so well that operations moved like clockwork.

“We planned out our attack strategy and were able to accomplish our mission on the flight deck while also giving the hangar bay crews a consistent flow of ordnance,” said Washa. “It made everything come together smoothly.”

Although the personnel participating in the on load consisted primarily ordnance oriented rates, Sailors from all over the ship understood their roles and were an important part of completing the mission.

“There were a lot of different people from a lot of different rates working on this evolution,” said Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Paul Coombs. “Everyone worked together and got the work done quickly. I think it went really well.”

In a display of teamwork and unity, Sailors from the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) were on hand to help Stennis complete their mission.

“With a total of 26 ordnancemen TAD to Fallon, Nev. to train squadrons, we coordinated with the Nimitz on sending us 15 people to assist us in completing this task,” said Donals. “We also pulled personnel from Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department and Combat Systems to act as safety personnel and tractor drivers in the hangar bays.”

Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Vanessa Lechtenberg of G-1, who has been on the ship for only a year, said this evolution was a walk in the park compared to the Indian Island ordnance on load Stennis participated in during an underway in Dec.

“The ammunition on load went well overall after I got used to how fast the ordnance was coming down from the flight deck,” said Lechtenberg. “I think this on load went a lot better than Indian Island because I knew what to expect.”

Despite complex operations in the hangar bays and the flight deck, Stennis’ crew was able to come together to complete its mission. This physical display of safety, teamwork and efficiency allowed Sailors to accomplish their work quickly so they could continue to focus on Stennis’ successful completion of FRSCQ.


Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dugan Flynn
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate

USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) left NavalAirStationNorthIsland Tuesday to begin Fleet Replacement Squadron Carrier Qualifications (FRSCQ) off the coast of Southern California.

FRSCQ qualify new pilots to conduct operations at sea by their ability to launch and recover from an aircraft carrier. Pilots will fly F/A-18 Hornets, EA-6B Prowlers, F/A-18F Super Hornets, and EA-18G Growlers during this FRSCQ.

“Carrier qualification periods are fairly dynamic events for the flight deck in that there aren’t many planned breaks like during cyclic operations,” said Cmdr. Scott Eanes, Stennis’ Mini Boss. “As soon as one pilot gets his required landings, another one jumps in the plane and starts up again.”

During the FRSCQ, Stennis’ crew plans to qualify about 70 pilots in six days, conducting 450 landings during the day and 300 landings at night. The crew will conduct about 150 touch and go exercises that prepare pilots for flight deck landings when they miss the arresting gear wires and must immediately take off again.

Helping new pilots get their carrier qualifications is a challenge not only to them, but also to the crew members.

“It’s really difficult with new pilots,” said Air Traffic Controlman 2nd Class (AW) Andrew Brice. “We have to pay more attention and keep extra eyes on the new pilots, but it’s a good opportunity for us to get training done before deployment.”

This FRSCQ will be a new experience for more than just the pilots as other Sailors try to get some of their qualifications done as well.

“It will be awhile before I can talk to the pilots, but I’ll still be a plotter during FRSCQs,” said Air Traffic Controlman Airman Alexandra Larsen. “Since I’ve never done one before, I’ll mostly be training and learning my job.”

Regardless of the individual’s role during FRSCQ, Eanes said he is confident that each person will perform their job to the best of their ability.

“The entire Air Department team works very hard to ensure that we are able to provide a ready deck and all the services that go with that to our embarked squadrons whenever called upon,” said Eanes. “I expect the Sailors in Air Department, and the ship as a whole, will perform like the professionals that they are. We have been training as a team since before we left the shipyard to perform the primary mission of this ship: the launch and recovery of aircraft.”

FRSCQ is essential to replenish the fleet with skilled pilots capable of accomplishing the Navy’s mission of global presence.

Sailors move ordnance in the hangar bays during an ammunition onload aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) . Stennis is returning to homeport in Bremerton, Wash. after completing sea trials as the final phase of a six-month planned incremental availability. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate/Released)

Story by MC3 Chase Corbin

NAVAL MAGAZINE INDIAN ISLAND, Wash. – The Weapons Department of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) finished an ordnance onload Saturday morning that set a record for the largest in carrier history.

The Weapons Department Sailors onloaded 2.9 million pounds of ordnance using 948 lifts in a total of 22 hours.

“The men and women of Weapons Department performed as a team, not just as a group of people performing a task going in the same direction,” said Lt. Cmdr. William Donals, Stennis’ Ordnance Handling Officer.

“We just onloaded three days work-worth of ordnance in less than 24 hours,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class (AW/SW) John Clark.

The onload was completed by new aviation ordnancemen and veterans alike. They worked in tandem to complete the mission on time and return Stennis to Naval Base Kitsap in time for the holidays.

Sailors load ordnance onto pallets on elevator two aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). Stennis is returning to homeport in Bremerton, Wash. after completing sea trials as the final phase of a six-month planned incremental availability. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate/Released)

“We had a lot of ‘green’ people who had never even seen live ordnance before, but we all pulled together,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class (AW) Michael Washa, whose team received the ordnance from Naval Magazine Indian Island (NMII). “According to NMII, we are the only crew that has ever been able to keep up with them.”

Weapons Department Sailors tested their skills for the first time since Stennis entered its planned incremental availability at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in June.

“It was hard for everyone to work in unison when everyone had their own specific job to do,” said Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Jimmie McGhee. “For a lot of Sailors this is their first ship, but we worked really hard to make it happen.”

By successfully onloading 2.9 million pounds of ordnance, Weapons Department ensured Stennis’ ability to complete mission requirements during the upcoming deployment.

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.

AO3 Gilbert Arambul hammers an oversized spanner wrench to loosen a control accumulator cover in lower-stage weapons elevator room five. The control accumulator holds 1500 PSI of hydraulic pressure. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman
Justin Johndro/Released)

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class
Heather Seelbach

In the Navy, EMI doesn’t always mean extra military instruction; in the case of weapons elevators, it refers to electro-magnetic interference, which can cause weapons elevator doors and hatches to operate inadvertently.

This week, engineers from Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and Sailors from weapons department’s G4 division are performing an upgrade on upper stage weapons elevator 2. Once the upgrade is complete, NAVSEA will train G4 on how to operate and maintain the new equipment.

“We are changing out the standard electronic module on CVN 71, 72, 73, 74 and 75,” said Bradley Luck of NAVSEA. “Stennis is the last ship to receive this upgrade.”

The upgrade should avert hazards to crew members caused by EMI, and the new modification will allow for a safer work environment and better equipment reliability.

“Anything from a walkie-talkie to a cell phone can cause EMI, and the current control system is susceptible to it,” said Luck.

To remedy this problem, NAVSEA employees and G4 Sailors are installing a power conditioner in the weapons elevator system, which will filter power sources going into the elevator control system.

“The whole upgrade was done to prevent random activation of the system to ensure that the elevator is ready for operation and in the same condition we left it,” said Electrician’s Mate 1st Class (SW/AW) James Roberts.

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