Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nick A. Grim

BREMERTON, Washington – Sailors from USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and other Naval Base Kitsap (NBK) Bremerton commands are building friendships and promoting teamwork while playing in the NBK Bremerton Basketball League.

“Not only does the league build camaraderie and promote competition, but I believe it gives the men and women an outlet for their energy,” said Reggie Mills, retired master chief cryptologic technician (technical) and a league coach from Palermo, New York.

The league provides Sailors with a positive outlet for their competitive side.

“For all the competitors out there like myself, this is when you can let that [competitive] side of you out,” said Yeoman 3rd Class Ian Riley, from Chicago.

Mills initially got involved while playing against a few of his friends in September and started discussing playing for teams in the league. Mills moved into a coaching position after initially starting as a player.

The league helps advance teamwork by providing a recreational environment where the players work as a team, and can then bring these lessons back to a professional environment.

Riley said you have to rely on your team to achieve that ultimate goal and you can take that attitude from the court back to John C. Stennis, because most of the work on the ship you cannot do by yourself.

“I believe everyone wants to be part of something special, something bigger than themselves and having a team to contribute to is essential to growth,” said Mills, “It’s about learning and having fun. When we do that, we win no matter what the final score is.”

In addition to building teamwork, the league fosters strengthening existing relationships and building new friendships that may be otherwise difficult to difficult to develop in the working environment of a larger command.

Mills said with very large commands like John C. Stennis, players can now get to know teammates and see them as more than just another person they work with on the ship.

“I already knew all the guys on the team from the ship and playing together made our relationships stronger,” said Riley, “With some of these guys it used to be a quick handshake and now it turns into real conversations.”

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170221-N-LX437-007.jpgStory by John C. Stennis Public Affairs

BREMERTON, Washington – Capt. Greg Huffman, commanding officer of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), spoke to members of the Puget Sound Ship Repair Association (PSSRA) Feb. 21.

PSSRA members include all aspects of shipyard and ship-repair organizations, and is dedicated to enhancing their collective capability to provide services to Navy ships in the region through partnership.

Huffman spoke about John C. Stennis’ 2016 deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, where it conducted operations in the South China Sea as well as exercises with regional partners and allies. John C. Stennis also participated in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, with 26 countries working together on a wide range of maritime events.

Engagements with local associations and organizations help build awareness of the Navy’s mission, and build relationships with the community in which John C. Stennis’ crew work and live.

John C. Stennis is currently conducting a planned incremental availability at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility.

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Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mike Pernick
BREMERTON, Washington – USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) officially entered its planned incremental availability (PIA) period, Feb. 16.
John C. Stennis Sailors and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF) workers will be executing the largest work package for a CVN-class ship in a six-month period.
“PIA planning was being conducted on deployment,” said Lt. Cmdr. Richfield Agullana, USS John C. Stennis’ (CVN 74) assistant maintenance officer and ship’s work force package team leader, from Kaneohe, Hawaii. “As soon as deployment came to an end we began working with other departments to identify Sailors that would be part of the PIA teams.”
Some Sailors are temporarily sent to PIA teams to work on a wide variety of tasks including habitability; replacing deck and tile surfaces; testing and repairing valves, fan room, vents and voids for proper function and cleanliness; repairing damaged doors and ladders; as well as organizing and maintaining electrical cable systems throughout the ship.
One of the challenges the crew has faced is the organization and training of Sailors transitioning into their temporarily assigned roles.
“Organizing the teams and setting up takes a lot of work,” said Lt. Clinton Newman, John C. Stennis’ avionics armament officer and barge mayor, from Anniston, Alabama. “We’ve had to write up a lot of instructions and standard operating procedures because of ongoing changes and expectations.”
Other members of the crew will be working within their departments, both carrying out routine maintenance and doing more in-depth work, including repairing ship systems and working alongside outside organizations as new installations are made.
In addition to John C. Stennis’ crew, PSNS & IMF employees and contractors from many companies will be carrying out extensive work onboard, installing new equipment and doing work beyond the capabilities of the crew. Integration between ship, shipyard and contractors is essential to successful execution of maintenance periods, and a focus for everyone involved.
Another transition the crew has had to make is moving Sailors who live on the ship and offices affected by work to a barge moored next to the ship, throughout PIA due to the industrial working environment. The barge can accommodate close to 1,100 people and has about 300 permanent residents right now as well as duty section members. Some departments have moved their entire work centers to the barge.
“It took us about a week to inventory the entire barge,” said Newman. “We had to address all the issues of the facility and how we were going to lay the groundwork for organization. We basically had to move the entire service industry of the entire ship over [to the barge].”
John C. Stennis and PSNS & IMF have a lot of work ahead of them but Agullana thinks they have set themselves up for success.
“I think we’re in a pretty good spot right now,” said Agullana. “I’m confident we’ll be off to a good start.”

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Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Aime Lykins

BREMERTON, Washington – Sailors aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) assembled in the ship’s hangar bay for an all-hands call by Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander, Naval Air Forces, Jan.12.

Shoemaker, a native of St. Petersburg, Florida, and former John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group commander, met with command leaders before addressing the crew.

“It’s really great to be back in Bremerton and back on board what was my flagship a couple deployments ago,” said Shoemaker. “I’m swinging through to do some business up on Whidbey [Island] and then the change of command over on [USS] Nimitz [CVN 68] today.”

Shoemaker spoke to Sailors about the status of manning, mission readiness and opened the floor for a question and answer session. He also recognized the outstanding performance of John C. Stennis Sailors.

“Across the board, our Sailors, maintainers and aviators are some of the best in the world,” said Shoemaker. “Thank you for the great work you’ve done since being back from deployment.”

Commander, Naval Air Forces mans, trains, equips and maintains a Naval air force that is immediately employable, forward deployed and engaged.

John C. Stennis is currently in port preparing for a planned incremental availability.

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Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Jiang

PUGET SOUND, Washington – USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Sailors conducted deck landing qualifications (DLQ) with the Washington National Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard, Dec. 18.

A National Guard CH-47 Chinook and a U.S. Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin performed DLQs on the flight deck of John C. Stennis while the ship transited the Puget Sound.

“This was a great opportunity to work with both our Washington National Guard and U.S. Coast Guard counterparts,” said Cmdr. Joseph Huffine, John C. Stennis’ assistant air officer. “The abilities demonstrated here by both the air crews and deck crews demonstrate that both are true professionals and can safely conduct flight operations when landing onboard an aircraft carrier. I am proud of all the Sailors who made this evolution a success.”

According to Capt. Joseph Siemandel, state public affairs officer for the Washington National Guard, this marked the first time in the history of the Washington National Guard that they have landed a Chinook as part of a DLQ off the coast of Washington state.

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Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Jiang

BREMERTON, Washington – USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Sailors returned home to Bremerton, Washington on Dec. 18, in time for the holidays.

Getting underway Nov. 22, John C. Stennis Sailors conducted at-sea training, celebrated Thanksgiving underway and participated in National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day events in Hawaii, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and Oahu.

“The crew did a fantastic job at sea and in port,” said Capt. Greg Huffman, John C. Stennis’ commanding officer. “Leaving home can be hard, especially around this time of year, but everybody worked hard and I am proud of what we accomplished.”

John C. Stennis pulled into Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Dec. 2. During the port visit, the ship hosted more than 2,200 visitors, including retired Army National Guard Col. Donald “Doc” E. Ballard, a Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipient, retired Air Force Col. Bud Anderson, a three-time ace during World War II, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, veterans, and their family and friends while in port from Dec. 3-8.

John C. Stennis Sailors also attended the Pearl Harbor Invitational basketball tournament in Bloch Arena on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to watch teams from California, Hawaii, Princeton and Seton Hall play, Dec. 6 and 7.

Donning their dress white uniforms, John C. Stennis Sailors joined other active duty service members and veterans in the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade, Dec. 7, in Honolulu, before the ship departed Hawaii, Dec. 8.

On the return trip, John C. Stennis Sailors continued to build and maintain technical and operational proficiency through drills and exercises, and completed carrier qualifications with Carrier Airwing Nine. The ship’s medical department also passed an individual medical readiness inspection with a 97.9 percent.

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Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Jiang

PACIFIC OCEAN – USS John C. Stennis’ (CVN 74) Multi-Cultural Heritage Committee (MCHC) held a National American Indian Heritage Month observance in the ship’s hangar bay, Dec. 17.

National American Indian Heritage Month is observed in November. However, due to operational requirements, John C. Stennis held its observance as it returned to its homeport of Bremerton, Washington.

The ceremony featured Sailors taking the stage to speak about Native American contributions from history, followed with a performance of a traditional dance.

“I’m happy they did it to bring light to different cultures, not let it fade away,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Courtney Jackson, from Atlanta, Georgia, who attended the ceremony. “It’s an important part of American history.”

Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Mount, from San Diego, a member of the Cherokee tribe, was the last speaker.

“I was really happy to be a part of this event, especially being Native American,” said Mount. “I wanted to give a little history about what Native Americans have done, what they have gone through and how they lived.”

For the final event of the ceremony, Seaman Katlynn Joe, from Upper Fruitland, New Mexico, a member of the Navajo tribe, led members of MCHC in a rendition of the jingle dress, a Native American women’s dance performed to help heal the injured and sick or for grieving families.

“It’s good that I can let people know a bit of Native American culture,” said Joe. “It helps them be informed.”

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Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Oscar Quezada

PACIFIC OCEAN – The yoga instructor starts her class with simple poses and stretches to get the blood pumping. As time goes by and her music starts picking up, the poses become more complex and the pace quickens. The instructor does not leave her students behind though; she reminds them how to breathe and walks them step-by-step through each pose.

Senior Chief Terrish Bilbrey, from Lafayette, Tennessee, the operations department leading chief petty officer, teaches yoga aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).

“I came into the Navy with this really badass attitude,” said Bilbrey. “What I didn’t realize is that I had an overachiever mindset.”

When Bilbrey was a junior Sailor, she did 10 straight years of sea duty and was on four different ships before going to her first shore duty. She was selected for Sailor of the Quarter twice in one year, made Sailor of the Year for the entire Pacific Fleet and picked up chief on her first try.

Despite her active lifestyle and successful naval career, Bilbrey was going through difficulties in her personal life. She described her childhood as having a tough environment, which drove her to have a hyper-competitive mindset. That drove her to succeed only for the external validation and recognition of others to feel better about herself.

Without an outlet, the stress of her need to succeed began to lead her to make destructive decisions. After reaching a low point in her life, she realized she was not on the right path. Trying to turn her life around, she turned to yoga.

“I started to realize that I would have these sensations of forgiveness and I would start to let go of some feelings and anger and all of those things that I held inside,” said Bilbrey.

Yoga includes breathing control, simple meditation and the adoption of specific bodily postures and is widely practiced for health and relaxation. It is one way for someone who is surrounded by stress to have it relieved.

“So yoga is really about self-reflection,” said Bilbrey. “It’s a constant daily self-reflection and it has made me more humble. If someone is going through a really hard time, they can look at it in two ways. They can get ticked off about it or they can get inspired and say what do I need to learn.”

After being a student for a while, Bilbrey wanted to share what she learned with others.

“My goal with sharing yoga is to help people understand that they are perfect the way they are,” said Bilbrey. “I don’t want anyone else to feel that they are not worthy because that is the way I felt for 30 years of my life.”

She received her yoga-teaching certificate when she was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 2011.

After getting her certificate, she brought what she learned into the military. She led yoga classes on USS Ronald Raegan (CVN 76) for two years before transferring to John C. Stennis and teaching Sailors here.

“I want to keep teaching yoga, but I want to do more,” said Bilbrey. “I believe we have the ability to design our life, the ability to take whatever it is you dream of … and make anything happen in your life. I want to help people realize their potential by using yoga practice, mindfulness practice, and also lifestyle changes.”

At the end of the one-hour yoga session, the exhausted students are rolling up their mats, some are breathing hard and others broke a sweat. Bilbrey thanked her students for coming to her class. Bilbrey used yoga as a healthy way to deal with her problems. It had physical, emotional and mental benefits for her. By teaching yoga, she hopes that she can share the lessons she learned with her fellow Sailors.

Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Aime Lykins

PACIFIC OCEAN – The Sailors of USS John C. Stennis’ medical department passed an individual medical readiness inspection (IMRI) while at sea, Dec. 13.

The IMRI is an annual evaluation, conducted Navy-wide, for commands associated with naval air activities, both on shore and afloat.

“This inspection has to deal with the whole ship’s medical readiness,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Jason Cook, from Virginia Beach, Virginia, who works in John C. Stennis’ medical department. “For this inspection we had inspectors come out and review 120 medical records to ensure we had everything up-to-date, proper verifications performed and the record jacket itself is serviceable.”

A team of five inspectors flew on board for the inspection, which the medical department began preparing for in October.

“A lot of work has gone into preparing for this inspection,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Carly Marcum, from Jacksonville, Florida, who works in John C. Stennis’ medical department. “For each of the approximately 3,000 records on board, we had a checklist for the whole record from front to back. Even something as simple as having a checkmark instead of an ‘X’ on a patient form could be a hit, so we are going through each record to ensure it is perfect and meets the standard.”

Cook added that while the inspection itself lasted only a matter of a few hours, more than 200 hours of preparation time went into the inspection.

“When we got underway [in November] our main focus was records,” said Cook. “Medical is always very busy with routine operations and patients. In between chow, general quarters, training evolutions, sick call and drills, we filled in all that time with preparing records. I’m really proud of the medical team.”

After the inspection was completed, Capt. Kevin Brown, fleet surgeon and head of the inspection team, reported that John C. Stennis’ calibrated score for the inspection was 97.9 percent.

“My takeaway from the inspection overall is that we have an even better medical team here than I thought we did,” said Cmdr. Allen Hoffman, from Somerset, New Jersey, John C. Stennis’ senior medical officer. “I’m really happy with the numbers and even though we had a lot of things going on, everyone pitched in, helped out and it really shows how much the prep work paid off.”

The IMRI was last conducted on board John C. Stennis just prior to the ship’s Western Pacific deployment as part of the larger Medical Readiness Inspection (MRI), which is conducted within 90 days of a command’s regularly scheduled deployment and evaluates all aspects of a medical department’s mission readiness and capabilities.

Hoffman reported the score the medical department received for the IMRI was comparable, if not better than, the score it received during the 2015 pre-deployment.

“Things look really great on board and that is not just the medical department, particularly just coming off of deployment, it is a rare thing and that really comes from the leadership all the way down the line,” said Brown. “The medical team was very professional and I would be very happy to receive medical care and have my family receive care here. This was a great experience and that includes all the departments involved in our stay.”

As the ship’s medical department wraps up the year, Hoffman emphasized that the quality of care and records management will remain high even through the upcoming scheduled period of incremental availability (PIA) maintenance phase.

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Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Oscar Quezada

PACIFIC OCEAN – Chaplain candidate program officers (CCPOs) are visiting USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) while underway to see what it takes to be a Navy chaplain.

“It is a phenomenal program, and it is a time for them to test the Navy and it to test them,” said Lt. Cmdr. Tavis J. Long, one of John C. Stennis’ chaplains and a mentor for the CCPOs, from Dover, Ohio. “I can honestly say that the CCPOs here are the kinds of chaplains we need, that the Navy needs.”

Once accepted into the chaplain candidate program, applicants attend the Direct Commission Officer Indoctrination Course to become commissioned officers in the inactive reserve. While they are commissioned officers in the inactive reserve, they must complete their master’s degree and get two years of ministry experience before petitioning to become an active-duty chaplain.

“I felt called to ministry,” said Lt. j. g. James Lee Carnes, a CCPO, from Turlock, California. “After graduating from Bible college, I was just praying about where the Lord was calling me to and felt him putting the military on my heart. I enlisted as a religious programs specialist to get started in that journey and almost nine years later, I’m still on that journey.”

The CCPOs aboard the ship are in different stages of the program, but they all capitalized on the opportunity John C. Stennis provided for on-the-job training and to experience what it takes to be a chaplain out at sea.

“They come in and they have phenomenal spirit,” said Long. “I want them to have as much a taste of being a chaplain as I have. They come in willing and ready to do anything, but I then want to make sure that what we give them to do is meaningful.”

During the underway, they will be familiarizing themselves with the ship and experiencing different facets of ship life.

The CCPOs are observing and assisting the ship’s chaplains in church services and leading the crew in evening prayer. They are also learning about corrective actions from the commanding officer and the executive officer in order to better understand the process on how to counsel Sailors who might find themselves in those situations.

“I’m extremely blessed for this opportunity to be onboard [John C. Stennis],” said Carnes. “We had incredible hosts. It’s been a wonderful experience.”

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