ABOARD USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- With the ongoing war in Iraq, it's all business aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).
The differences aboard the aircraft carrier are subtle: more televisions are tuned to news channels and fewer to the latest movies. On the mess decks, the crew is congregating in larger groups around these televisions, hungry for some sense of what the next few hours and days might hold.
While the physical actions of launching and recovering aircraft haven't changed in the last 24 hours, the cerebral reality of war has added a greater sense of purpose and responsibility to the actions of the Truman/Carrier Air Wing 3 team.
Combined Task Force 60/Commander, Carrier Group 2 Rear Adm. John D. Stufflebeem solemnly addressed Truman Sailors and Marines, explaining what the ship may face.
"For our part, and in simple terms, we have been directed to conduct combat operations into Iraq," the admiral said. "We will do this via strikes by our Tomahawk land-attack missile capable ships and aircraft from our flight deck."
Stufflebeem told Truman Sailors and Marines they are well trained and more than ready for the task ahead.
"We will strike with precision, we will strike with lethality, we will strike with persistence, and we will not fail," Stufflebeem said.
Dubbed in the media as a campaign to "shock and awe" the Iraqi forces, the carrier battle groups in the Arabian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea plan to overwhelm the Iraqis with superior military might. Although the idea is to attack quickly and decisively, Stufflebeem says HST is ready for whatever happens.
He also warned about the possibility of terrorist attacks.
"To be sure, there are terrorists who would want to try to attack our ships here in the Mediterranean Sea and foreign ports of call. For this reason, we will stay at sea for the foreseeable future and continue to be ready to conduct strikes and protect ourselves from potential attacks," he said.
The HST crew agreed. Many expressed relief that their training is finally being tested in a tangible way in the war on terror.
"I think we're definitely ready," said Personnelman 3rd Class Keli Crane of Holtville, Calif. "This is what we're here for. This is what we've trained for, and we're ready."
Aviation Structural Mechanic 2nd Class Cesar Olin, a New Orleans native, is an aircraft mechanic for Sea Control Squadron (VS) 22. The lives of pilots and air crew are in his hands, and he said the admiral's words underscored the work he and his shipmates do every day.
"They depend on us. That's a responsibility we have every day, whether or not we're at war," Olin said. He continued, saying his role in the war on terrorism is the culmination of all his training.
"This is what we went to 'A' school for. This is the reason we put so much work into these aircraft, and we're ready."
For related news, visit the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn75.