Enterprise Completes Final Ammunition Offload Before Inactivation

Story Number: NNS121028-01Release Date: 10/28/2012 11:17:00 AM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian G. Reynolds, Enterprise Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs

USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Weapons Department completed the historic carrier's final ammunition offload Oct. 24-26.

During the offload, 3,348,000 pounds of ordnance and ammunition were transferred from Enterprise to Military Sealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ships USNS Matthew Perry (T-AKE 9) and USNS Sacagawea (T-AKE 2).

Because Enterprise is scheduled to be inactivated later this year, all ammunition and ordnance - other than small arms used for security purposes - had to be transferred off of the ship.

"The planning was a major challenge," said Lt. Cmdr. Thomas L. Hinnant, the ordnance handling officer aboard Enterprise. "We have been talking to the Sacagawea for about a year. There are so many entities involved in an evolution of this size that it takes a lot of coordination."

"The evolution was extremely difficult because we faced so many challenges planning for such an event," said Senior Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Steven J. Black, the leading chief petty officer of Enterprise's aviation ordnance control center. "As in any situation, plans change and the Weapons department had to be flexible and adapt to whatever changes were thrown at us. Once we finally got the go ahead, we were ready and our people pulled it off flawlessly."

The process of dismantling over 1,600 tons of ordnance was undoubtedly a daunting one. The process began one month ago, shortly after Enterprise flew its final sortie in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Soon thereafter, the ship's Weapons department began dismantling and repacking all of the ship's ordnance. Once the ammunition was dismantled and repacked, Sailors in the Weapons department began staging the ordnance so that it would be ready to be removed from the ship.

"This was a big undertaking," said Hinnant. "The staging process on this ship is more challenging than any other ship in the Navy."

After the ordnance was staged in Enterprise's hangar bay and on the flight deck, a task accomplished with the help of the "Big E's" Air department, the Weapons department relied on the Dragonslayers of Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron (HS) 11 to transport much of the ordnance from Enterprise to Sacagawea via vertical replenishment.

"Our job was to assist Enterprise and Sacagawea with the vertical replenishment," said Lt. Marcus A. Torres, a pilot with HS-11 who assisted with the vertical replenishment. "Our main focus was to effectively [and safely] assist both ships with the ammo offload to help facilitate an expeditious return home."

However, what may sound like a routine vertical replenishment was no easy task. Enterprise, Sacagawea and HS-11 faced rough seas and inauspicious weather conditions, which played a major role in making this vertical replenishment more difficult than it may have been under normal conditions.

"This was definitely one of the more challenging vertical replenishments," said Torres, "especially when you take into account the sea state and the wind conditions, but we pulled it off without any major issues."

During the offload, the Weapons department also worked closely with Enterprise's Deck department to successfully transport the ammunition that was staged in the hangar bay.

"The main priority of the Deck department was to move the barrels of ammunition from the hangar bay to the Sacagawea using the sliding pad-eye from stations 5 and 13," said Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Timothy W. Lumpkin, the leading petty officer of Deck department's 2nd division.

Much like HS-11, the Sailors of the Deck department faced the challenges of the elements.

"The heavy seas and high winds were definitely a challenge for us," said Lumpkin. "The heavy seas caused the ships to surge - causing the ships to come closer together, rather than further apart - while we were moving ammo. After doing this for three days, fatigue was also an issue. But we weathered the storm and completed the job as we always do."

After nearly three days of intense coordination and hard work of Enterprise's entire crew, all of "Big E's" ammunition and ordnance was successfully removed from the ship without any major issues. During the evolution, the crew conducted 314 connected replenishment lifts and 946 vertical replenishment lifts, for a total of 1,260 lifts.

While the Big E may have offloaded the last piece of ordnance it will ever hold in its weapons magazines, the ammunition will be used elsewhere.

"All of the ordnance had to be offloaded as part of our [inactivation] process," said Black. "But, the assets will be distributed as needed throughout the Fleet to support the Navy's mission."

As the ship finishes the last leg of its 25th and final deployment, the Weapons department aboard Enterprise can breathe a brief sigh of relief knowing that such a massive undertaking is behind them.

"I could not have asked for a better group of people to have the privilege of being their ordnance handling officer," said Hinnant. "They have done an amazing job the last three years of keeping us above board on all ordnance matters."

Many of the Sailors who make up the ranks of the ship's Weapons department used the evolution as an opportunity to show that hard work is what they do best.

"It is a great feeling to be a part of such a great team," said Black. "There were many times throughout the offload when I would look around and see junior Sailors pulling double shifts, working the extra hours, doing whatever was necessary to get this job done. These guys knew it was their time to shine; they rose to the occasion and knocked it out of the park."

After completing its final deployment, Enterprise is scheduled to be inactivated Dec. 1, in a ceremony to be held at Naval Station Norfolk, bringing to a close more than 51 years of distinguished service. The inactivation ceremony will be the last official public event for the ship and will serve as a celebration of life for the ship and the more than 100,000 Sailors who have served aboard.

For more news from USS Enterprise (CVN 65), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn65/.

11/26/2012 12:36:00 PM
Proudly served aboard the Big E Jan. 65 to June 67. AO3, Missile Crew, "Fright Deck". Only 20 years old when I joined her, 68 years old now, and believe it or not I still enjoy recurring dreams of her. Amazing what an impression she made on me. I pray she gets a reprieve from the breakers, and gets reassigned to permanent museum duty. Hey, maybe along Old Ironsides. Tom Sears

11/8/2012 6:20:00 PM
Spent a lot of time with CVN 65 as one of her escorts (USS Hull DD-945). I especially remember Christmas Eve of 1976 plane guarding for the Big E in the South China Sea. My hats off to a fine ship with an outstanding history of service to her country! GMG2 Marz

10/30/2012 8:43:00 PM
I am a proud Grandmother of a United State Marine, Serving on the Enterprise!

10/30/2012 1:56:00 PM
Bravo Zulu CVN65- I may be biased ( 2 Plant Reactor Mechanic and Reactor Training LPO 1981-1985) but she's the best that ever did it. Congratulations on an illustrious and proud 51 years of service. People make Enterprise what she is; A big congrats to all my fellow Enterprise sailors.An honor to have served on her. Fair winds and following seas to you, Big E...

10/30/2012 10:13:00 AM
Nothing could make us more proud than to know we are in Good Hands. Thanks to all of you.

10/29/2012 10:17:00 PM
Fair winds and following seas to CVN-65, Nice Ammo Offload. Was Medvacd to Enterprise in fall of 67 by helo and xfered off by C1A to USNH LB from CG(N)-9 as a GMM1 and returned to CG(N)-9 as a GMMC TALOS. Great trip. thanks for your service, GMCM Stan Summers, USN RET.

10/29/2012 8:09:00 PM
My Brother and I both proudly served aboard the Big "E", Fair Winds and Following Sea to a Great Ship. Bravo Zulu

10/29/2012 7:59:00 PM
It's sad that She's going to become inactive. She was commissioned just a few short months before I was born. We have always had an aircraft carrier called the Enterprise, since before WWII, and she will be missed. Thank you to all the sailors and marines who walked her decks, flew her ships, and served this great country in times of war and peace. Enjoy retirement Big E! You have earned it.

10/29/2012 4:22:00 PM
A salute to the Ordnance Officer and men for a job well done. This from an ex Ordnance Officer, CVAN 65, 1965-68. I am well aware of the demands placed upon the Weapons Department and the WHOLE crew of the Big E, having experienced countless UNREPS and VERTREPS during two combat deployments to the Tonkin Gulf. BRAVO ZULU!! I hope to join you for one last time on 1 December. Norm Davis

10/29/2012 2:30:00 PM
This is the last carrier that I served on, sad to see, hope they have plans for one of the Ford Class Carriers to be named Enterprise!

10/28/2012 6:58:00 PM
A very WELL DONE to the crew High fives all around,,,Big E you have done good in your illustrious career,,Bearing the Torch of Freedom on the sea's of the world

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An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the Dragon Whales of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28 picks up ammunition from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) during the carrier's last ammunition offload.
121025-N-ZZ999-131 ATLANTIC OCEAN (Oct. 25, 2012) An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the Dragon Whales of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28 picks up ammunition from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) during the carrier's last ammunition offload. Enterprise is completing its final deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts. The U.S. Navy is reliable, flexible, and ready to respond worldwide on, above, and below the sea. Join the conversation on social media using #warfighting. (U.S. Navy photo by Information Systems Technician 1st Class Stephen Wolff/Released)
October 26, 2012
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