ABOARD USS JOHN C. STENNIS (NNS) -- USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) reached a major objective Sept. 1, when its hull was once again returned to the salty waters of Puget Sound.
The Bremerton, Wash.,-based aircraft carrier has been in dry dock since Jan. 19 undergoing technical and equipment upgrades as part of a Docked Planned Incremental Availability (DPIA) at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS). Stennis will see open seas again when it completes DPIA and begins deployment work-ups later this year
"I think the dry dock portion of DPIA has gone remarkably well," said Capt. David Buss, John C. Stennis' commanding officer. "All the work that we wanted to accomplish was completed on or ahead of the original schedule. As a result, we are actually moving John C. Stennis out of dry dock a day earlier than planned."
He attributes the timely move to the teamwork of the ship's crew and PSNS in getting the ship out of dry dock and back into the water for the next phase of maintenance. "We are 'on course, on glideslope' to deliver John C. Stennis back to the fleet, as promised and on time...ready for the fight," Buss said.
Stennis was moved out of dry dock for the rest of DPIA in order to make the dry dock available for another ship if necessary and also to get the crew accustomed to working, sleeping and eating on board after having to do those things off ship for the past eight months.
Personnelman 3rd Class Heidi Lee can't wait until she has everything in one place again. "I look forward to being able to do everything I need to on the ship again rather than having to go between the barge and the ship to get things done. It's very time consuming," she said.
The commanding officer is ready to put the ship back to sea and make it do what it was made to do.
"I think I speak for every shipmate in John C. Stennis when I say that I'm looking forward to getting this great ship and crew back to sea where we belong. We are all 'operational Sailors' at heart. I know we'll be ready to answer the call in the next chapter of the global war on terrorism when our turn comes."
During the dry-docking period, the ship received a complete hull repainting above and below the waterline, and the shafts, rudders and screws were refurbished. Many on-board flight, operational and weapons systems are continuing to be upgraded.
One of the major renovations Stennis received was a new mast. The new mast's structure is the first of its kind. A new type of steel alloy was used, making the mast stiffer and thicker than before. The new mast is also heavier and taller, allowing it to support new antennas the old mast would not have been able to support.
Visit www.cvn74.navy.mil for more information on the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.
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