NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) returned to Norfolk Nov. 6, following five days at sea offloading 1,800 tons of ammunition and ordnance to USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8).
Truman is scheduled to enter a Planned Incremental Availability in January 2006, following more than 18 months conducting high-tempo carrier operations. Truman's Weapons Department began preparing for this underway upon the ship's return from her six-month deployment in April.
Truman's weapons department took over the hangar bay. The department began moving all bombs and ammunition up from their storage magazines to the hangar bay early the previous week to prepare for the offload.
"We unloaded 99 percent of our mission load that was to complete our mission from the previous deployment," said Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class (AW) Katie Grace, small arms magazine supervisor.
Knowing this workload was ahead of them, the aviation ordnancemen began preparing as soon as possible. With the amount of ammunition being unloaded, they ensured all supplies were in order for the offload this underway.
"We've been preparing for this since the end of cruise," said Magazine Supervisor Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class (AW/SW) Mark Wilkinson. "We started getting stuff ready, banding bombs and making sure we had everything we needed in the right place."
Though there is only one weapons division directly responsible for maintaining ammunition, a project of this magnitude required all the divisions to come together to make it go off without a hitch.
"To make an ammo offload run smoothly, all five divisions [of the Weapons Department] must work together," said Grace. "Every division has different responsibilities to bring to the table."
Every division added to the offload in their own ways. G-1 Division organized all the ammunition in the hangar bay, G-2 was responsible for all the security and maintenance of all small arms ammunition, G-3 worked in the magazines, G-4 maintained all weapons elevators and machinery rooms and G-5 was responsible for controlling all movement of ammo on board and kept track of all ammo transferred.
Truman began passing off their surge carrier "torch" by giving Arctic, Enterprise and Eisenhower a variety of ordnance ranging from small arms ammunition to the biggest bombs Nov. 3.
"We're offloading various types of ammunition, ranging from inert items such as bomb fins and computer control groups to bombs and missiles," said Wilkinson. "It's mostly high explosive."
By sunset Nov. 3, Weapons Department was just more than half complete with their transfers, having made 89 lifts to Enterprise, 360 to Eisenhower and 280 to Arctic, said Truman's Commanding Officer Capt. James Gigliotti.
Weapons finished up the offload Nov. 4, with approximately 510 lifts.
Though this underway was short, it was an essential part in keeping Truman on schedule for the rest of the year. None of this ordnance could accompany Truman back to Norfolk.
"[The ship] is getting ready to pull into dry dock and we can only have a certain amount of ammunition for force protection," said Wilkinson. "It will also affect the draft when the ship goes in to [receive magnetic treatment]."
As Truman Sailors wind down from their surge carrier status, many are looking on to their next endeavor, the 10-month maintenance availability in the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, which will not only serve to make the ship better but will also let them spend some well deserved time with family and friends.
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