USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At Sea (NNS) -- USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 began their final phase of Tailored Ship's Training Availability (TSTA), TSTA III, June 8. The Stennis-Shogun team sailed through TSTA I and II and now their sights are set for TSTA III and the Final Evaluation Problem (FEP).
"Everything is right on track with our TSTA," said Stennis commanding officer, Capt. Brad Johanson. "We need to show that we are ready to operate at the high pace, high level of safety that we expect aboard the John C. Stennis."
Afloat Training Group (ATG) Pacific has been training and assessing the crew since departing San Diego May 26, when TSTA I began. In the last phase of TSTA, ATG will determine if Stennis is ready for FEP.
"TSTA III is basically the dry run for FEP," said ATG's Chief Damage Controlman (SW) Gary Wise. "Not only does it prepare them for FEP, but it prepares them for actually going out to sea, deployment."
The objectives and scenarios set by ATG test Stennis' ability to conduct multiple, simultaneous combat missions and to survive complex casualty situations under stressful conditions. Integrated training teams (ITT) in different fields help train and prepare Sailors to meet these objectives.
Along with their carrier qualifications, CVW-9's Command Master Chief (AW/SW) Debra Downs, said the air wing's reintegration with Stennis after the 2007 deployment has been impressive during TSTA. They will continue to train veteran pilots and new pilots during phase three.
"We are at the half-way point of this at-sea period and we are ahead of where we expected to be in the areas of flight time, arrested landings, sorties, and ordnance expenditures," explained Downs. "This could not have happened without the teamwork that I see going on in every area of the Stennis team."
Combat systems are conducting equipment-casualty scenarios. Ship's systems like radar, communications or navigation will simulate being nonfunctional due to damage. Sailors will have to come up with methods to fix the systems or find alternative means to reestablish communications.
The Weapons Department's gun teams are being watched and tested by ATG as they mount .50-caliber guns to defend the ship from small boat attacks. At the same time, they have been supplying the air wing with ordnance for exercises.
"Every day that the air wing is flying with live ordnance, we are building all of that ordnance throughout the night and sending it to the flight deck during the day," said Weapons' ITT Leader, Lt. Jason Parmley.
"It started slowly by training with practice, inert, ordnance and then we gradually worked up to live ordnance. Now we are pretty much doing the same thing that we would do during a deployment."
Stennis ITT Coordinator and Combat Direction Center officer Cmdr. Brian Albro explained that ever since the start of TSTA I, the crew has done a lot of training to establish a rhythm to get them through each phase of TSTA.
"Looking back now, we realize the training that we did has set us up for success," said Albro. "We wanted our Sailors to be familiar with the different scenarios ATG would be looking at." Albro added the most noticeable events on the ship's schedule were on general quarters (GQ) and fire drills.
Wise explained the knowledge gained during GQ will prepare Stennis' Sailors for the worst.
"Look at what happened to the GW [USS George Washington (CVN 73)]," said Wise. "That's where you want to be at. If something like that were to happen to the Stennis, the crew will know what to do to get through something like that."
TSTA is part of the Navy's commitment to maintaining warfighting readiness and developing its Sailors, essential elements of America's maritime strategy. TSTA, as a whole, helps build a solid foundation of unit-level operating proficiency for the crew and develops and enhances Stennis' ability to self-train.
For more news from USS John C. Stennis, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn74/.