Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Nimitz Offloads More Than 1,200 Tons of Ordnance
USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Sailors conducted a two-day ammunition offload in preparation for the ship's upcoming docking planned incremental availability (DPIA), Sept. 14-15.
The ship transferred more than 1,200 tons of ordnance to the dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS W.J. Schirra (T-AKE 8). Four hundred forty eight lifts of ordnance were transferred by use of connected replenishment and 455 lifts by vertical replenishment over a two-day period.
"We conducted hundreds of hours of preparation on the ammo over the last two months to get ready for this," said Lt. Henry Fuentes, USS Nimitz ordnance handling officer. "This was a very challenging evolution, but our guys stepped up huge and not once did anyone complain."
The evolution required every division of the weapons department to assist bringing the ordnance up from the weapons magazines to all three hangar bays and the flight deck.
"This was an all hands evolution, no one was on the sideline," said Cmdr. Peter Donaher, USS Nimitz Weapons Department gun boss. "This only happens about once every year and a half, so our guys were really fired up. They were working 14-hour days to get all of it ready to go."
"It's all about camaraderie," said Lt. j.g. Carlos Chairez, Weapons Department G-4 divisional officer. "Everybody had a part in this. It was five divisions that came together. It wasn't a question, they just did it."
When handling ordnance safety becomes a major factor in how the operation is ran, one in which Nimitz' Weapons Department planned out carefully.
"We made sure everyone did their job effectively and safely while moving ordnance from the weapons elevators to the hangar bays," said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class (AW/SW) Mary Sinclair, ordnance quality assurance. "We look for errors and discrepancies, while trying to prevent them, making sure everyone did the job the right way."
Even with the long hours and additional work, the aviation ordnancemen were proud of what they were doing.
"This was my third offload," said Aviation Ordnanceman (AW/SW) Alexanna Williams. "It can be tiring, but it’s well worth it after everything is off the ship. Doing this, we get to show what our real job is."
According to Operations Officer Cmdr. Bruce Hay, Nimitz is still a fully capable surge carrier after the ammunition offload. "Today's ammunition offload is a classic example of completing commitments," said Hay. "In true Nimitz fashion, we are able to complete this safely and expeditiously. I honestly think the ability to make it look seamless despite the Herculean effort is what sets Nimitz far apart from the other carriers.
Other departments that played key roles in the ammunition offload included Operations, Air, Navigation, and Deck.