USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea (NNS) -- As the crew of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) continues working to complete Tailored Ship's Training Assessment (TSTA), a group of Sailors responsible for protecting the ship trained on a new weapon Nov. 30 - the M240B machine gun.
This was the first time the M240B machine gun, a replacement for the .60 caliber machine gun as part of a standard phase-out program, was used on board Ronald Reagan. Both weapons are belt-fed, gas-powered and air cooled; both use 7.62 mm cartridges; have a maximum range of 4,073 yards and have a similar maximum effective range.
However, for Sailors assigned to Ronald Reagan's Weapons Department who are responsible for protecting the ship, the difference was notable.
"The 240 is easier to handle and has a better rate of fire for a long time. In general it's just the better weapon," said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class (AW) Dylan Dentremont, an M240B mount captain.
Gunner's Mate 3rd Class Anthony Castaneda, a .50 caliber mount captain agreed.
"The M240 is a little heavier, but a lot more efficient. It doesn't jam as much and you can charge it with the cover closed," said Castaneda.
One of the biggest advantages of the M240B is the adjustable gas regulator that allows the weapon to fire 750-950 rounds per minute, which could allow for a quicker kill during a combat situation.
"Throughout our training events we have to meet certain enabling objectives. Some being misfire procedures, casualties on the mounts, how we integrate with combat systems as far as tracking of the targets, reporting of the targets and firing of targets," explained Chief Gunner's Mate (SW) Norman Escobar, Weapons Department, G-2 division leading chief petty officer.
After firing off a total of 98 flares, 1,000 7.62 mm rounds and 3,000 .50 caliber rounds safely, the team qualified as part of TSTA.
"It was the first live-fire exercise that had been done on board Ronald Reagan for eight months, so the team did an outstanding job. They put rounds downrange and on target," said Escobar.
Ronald Reagan was commissioned in July 2003, making it the ninth and newest Nimitz-class, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The ship is named for the 40th U.S. president; its motto, "Peace through Strength," was a recurring theme during the Reagan presidency.
For more news from USS Ronald Reagan, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.