Pacific Ocean - Aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) conducted its first at-sea ammunition onload in more than two years, Oct. 23-24 during an underway replenishment (UNREP) with the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Wally Schirra (T-AKE 8).
Nimitz Sailors moved a total of 1,542 pallets during the 48-hour, ordnance-handling evolution in preparation for an upcoming 2017 deployment.
Deck Department worked tirelessly to safely transfer ordnance from Wally Schirra to Nimitz. Deck Sailors received pallets of ordnance via connected replenishment between the two ships.
"It's been a great effort considering most of Deck Department is new," said Seaman James Garvey, a deck seaman aboard Nimitz. "We've been staying strong and tenacious, and have been good about rotating people in and out so they can get their qualifications."
While Deck Department Sailors received the pallets, Weapons Department worked above and below decks to ensure ordnance was safely transferred, organized, and stowed in the ship's magazines.
"It's truly been a flawless effort," said Lt. Mike Dasch, the ordnance handling officer aboard Nimitz. "It's ordnance; it's what we do, and we do it well. I couldn't be more proud of my Sailors."
With the help of Sailors from Nimitz' Air Department, MH-60S Sea Hawks from the "Eightballers" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 8 transferred ordnance, via vertical replenishment, from Wally Schirra to Nimitz.
The onload was an all-hands effort, and the success of the evolution was a result of all Sailors on Nimitz working together as a cohesive unit. Every department, from Navigation to Supply, played an important role in accomplishing the evolution safely and efficiently.
"The guys in Deck Department who haven't done an UNREP in about two years, all the Weapons Department Sailors below decks moving things around and keeping it organized, and the rest of the crew that had a part in this -- they all did an amazing job," said Capt. John Ring, commanding officer of Nimitz.
The safety of all Sailors involved was a high priority during the evolution. Officers, chief petty officers, and petty officers maintained vigilance over their junior Sailors to ensure proper procedures and risk management were used.
Sailors from Safety Department were also on standby to ensure all safety precautions were followed.
Nimitz completed the onload two days earlier than expected and used the extra time to perform additional practice approaches with Wally Schirra to further train and qualify Nimitz Sailors.
"The Nimitz team came together and really accomplished some amazing things," said Ring. "It was definitely a big win for Nimitz."
Nimitz recently completed a 20-month extended planned incremental availability at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
In the coming months, Nimitz will undergo a series of inspections and multi-ship exercises as part of a work-up cycle that will test the ship's proficiency and capabilities in preparation for her upcoming 2017 deployment.