John C. Stennis underway on maiden overseas deployment

by JO2 Marcus Myers
USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74)
Public Affairs - February 27, 1998

ABOARD JOHN C. STENNIS U.S. Navy Sailors routinely board ships to patrol the oceans of the world and return six months later. The Navys newest aircraft carrier, USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), is currently beginning its inaugural six-month deployment, but it is anything but routine.
Yesterday, February 26, 1998, JCS departed Naval Station Norfolk making its way to the Arabian Gulf to relieve the aircraft carrier USS George Washington as tensions between the United States and Iraq are still high. The deployment is unique not only in because JCS is deploying directly to the Gulf, a world hot spot, but also the ship will not return to its former homeport of Naval Station Norfolk. Instead, JCS will travel around the world and drop anchor in a new homeport; Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, Calif.
The crew of JCS is excited about the move to the west coast.
Many people are excited about this deployment because they knew the ship is moving to San Diego, said LN2 Alvon M. Brown, a native of Richmond, VA. My family is very excited about the move and theyre looking forward to it.
Im very excited about the move because Ill be closer to home, said Long Beach, Calif. native ABEAN Roberto J. Zamora, of V-2 division.
Talk of a U.S. military strike against Iraq was quieted less than a week ago after the U.N. brokered a deal with Iraq. However, the U.S. Navy continues to provide two-carrier presence in case Iraqi President Saddam Hussein violates arms control sanctions or attempts to block U.N. weapons inspections.
Capt. Douglas R. Roulstone, commanding officer of John C. Stennis, says the ship is prepared to handle any contingencies they may face while in the Gulf.
As with other deployments, we will be tasked to complete numerous assignments in support of our nations interests. After many months of demanding carrier qualifications and readiness inspections, the ship is now prepared to complete any mission it may be tasked with. The crew of the John C. Stennis is also looking forward to the challenge of our deployment to the Middle East region, Roulstone said.
Whatever transpires during JCS tour in the Gulf, RADM Ralph E. Suggs, JCS Battle Group Commander, is also fully confident in the ability of the JCS mighty Battle Group.
We will be ready on arrival. Its been that way for over 200 years as it is with our Navy today. You can expect that. Ready on arrival, Suggs said.
This confidence is found on the John C. Stennis from top to bottom. Crewmembers say the ship ready for the Gulf, and standing guard in the Middle East is the perfect test for the Navys new aircraft carrier. I feel proud because I know people back home will be counting on us to get the job done I feel our ship is ready. By working on the flight deck, Ive had the chance to watch our pilots and I know theyre well prepared, said Zamora. Im confident we can stop anything before it happens.
I feel were ready. We have a good commanding officer, the crew performed really well during flight operations and everyone responded well to fire drills, Brown said. Going to the Gulf is part of our job. Its what were here for.
The John C. Stennis Battlegroup consists of guided the missile cruisers USS San Jacinto and USS Monterey, the guided missile destroyers, USS Cole, USS Laboon and USS Caron, and the guided missile frigate USS Simpson. Also in the group are the submarine USS Minneapolis-St. Paul, the oiler USS Patuxent, Charleston, S.C.-based ammunition ship USS Santa Barbara and Groton, Conn.-based submarine USS Providence.
JCS is scheduled to arrive in San Diego in late August.