John C Stennis aims for excellence during operational pause

USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and crew took a pause from their normal training and maintenance Aug. 25, to focus on safe and efficient operations.

The operational pause was directed by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson in the wake of several U.S. Navy vessel mishaps, including the collisions of USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) with civilian vessels and seeks to address issues which may have led to these mishaps.

“Recent events indicate these tragic incidents are not limited occurrences but part of a disturbing trend involving U.S. warships in the area of responsibility (AOR),” said Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. William Moran.

John C. Stennis had been planning a safety stand-down with similar themes as it shifts its mindset from the industrial and maintenance environment focus which lead it to success in completing its planned incremental availability five days ahead of schedule to one focused on operations at sea, including navigation, damage control and flight operations. The tragic events onboard Fitzgerald and John S. McCain brought the need for this dedication to safe operations into focus.

Moran directed the review to address individual and unit level training and development, operational risk management, mission standards, operational performance and material readiness.

Capt. Greg C. Huffman, commanding officer of USS John C. Stennis, addressing the crew via the ship’s closed circuit TV system alongside Capt. Scott Miller, the executive officer and CMDCM Benjamin Rushing, the ship’s command master chief, introduced the pause as a time to reflect on how the ship does business, ensure that operations are being conducted in the right way and ensure the ship is ready to return to sea.

During the day, departments aboard John C. Stennis discussed operational issues, and provide feedback on improvements. This included a focus on watchstanding fundamentals, operational risk management, using good planning processes, and the need for situational awareness during operations at sea, in port, and at home. Different departments and functional watch areas were able to tailor the discussions to their specific tasks and goals, while continuing to emphasize how each Sailor’s actions contribute to the ship’s overall capabilities.

The day concluded by re-assembling the crew in the hangar bay, where they were again addressed by Huffman, who re-enforced the need for each and every Sailor to contribute to a culture of safe and effective operations as the ship prepares for upcoming training and certifications at sea.

“If you see things that aren’t right, you speak up. It doesn’t matter what rank, anyone can speak up,” said Quartermaster 1st Class Thomas Ross, from Chicago. “Proper watchstanding, and anything having to do with procedural compliance saves lives.”

John C. Stennis is in port training for future operations after completing its planned incremental availability (PIA) at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility five days ahead of schedule. During PIA, the ship and shipyard team accomplished the largest work package ever for an aircraft carrier in a six-month availability.