Pass The Ammo
by JO3 Jason B. HeavnerABOARD JOHN C. STENNIS — The date was May 6, 1999. It was another telltale sign that the millennium deployment was just around the corner. The USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74) was about to become a fully combatant carrier again, and the ship was seeing red.
USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74)
Public Affairs - May 21, 1999
The ammo onload took place on this day. The Weapons Department personnel, who wear red jerseys, were kicking off a grueling 32-hour evolution of bringing on ammunition, placing it in the hangar bay, and stowing the ammunition in their designated spaces several decks below. "Last year's onload took 16 hours more than this year's onload," said AO1 Allen Ray of G5 Division.
The JCS pulled alongside USNS FLINT (TAE 32) and the first load of ammo was on JCS' deck at approximately 7:52 am and the break away time was at 6:47 pm that evening. Weapons Department was not working alone during this evolution. They were getting by with a little help from their friends. V-4 Division took responsibility in keeping the two helicopters fueled that were conducting the Vertical Replinishment (VERTREP) portion of the onload. By day's end they fueled more than 10,000 gallons of JP-5. Deck Department rigged lines across and hauling ammo over via Connected Replinishment (CONREP). Administration Department handled the telephone and distance line portion of the evolution. V-1 Division took charge of guiding the VERTREP helos safely on deck as well as chalking and chaining so they can get fueled.
The ammo onload was a milestone for Weapons Department. Their turnover rate from the cruise was at least 50 percent, but the ordinance personnel did not let that get in their way. At day's end, 1.2 million pounds of ammunition was onboard, more than 600 VERTREP hits and 500 CONREP rigs were conducted. This was accomplished by a department with barely 200 personnel. AOC David Nelson, LCPO for G3 Division explained how the department, despite the obvious changes in manning was able to bring on so much ammon in such a short space of time. "There were at least six or seven new chiefs in weapons department, E-6 and below personnel had a considerable turnover rate," recalled Nelson. "The good thing about the ordinance rate, not a whole lot of training is required, whether it is four years or twenty years. It just comes naturally when you're working with ordinance, and with that in mind, this onload has been mishap-free."