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Ford conducts pre-deployment ammunition onload

29 September 2022

From Petty Officer 2nd Class Zachary Guth, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)

ATLANTIC OCEAN - USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) conducted an ammunition onload on the open seas with the “Tridents” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 9 and dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE 13), Sept. 25-27, 2022.

Ford safely received more than 100,000 tons of ordnance over three days in preparation for the ship’s deployment this fall.

The ship’s weapons department led by Cmdr. Jim Fish, Ford’s weapons officer, and Lt. Cmdr. William Keaton, the ship’s ordnance handling officer, was at the helm of this operation.

The operation began with MH-60S Knighthawks attached to HSC-9 in the air before sunrise and the Evers ready to come along the port side of Ford to relay ammunition.

“Today, AOs go to work,” said Keaton. “As the community of Aviation Ordnance, this is where it starts.”

On deck were Sailors from Ford’s weapons department ready to retrieve and transport ammunition with forklifts. Landing signal engineers assigned to HSC-9 were safely guiding Knighthawks over Ford’s flight deck to deliver the ammunition.

Viewing the operation from above was the weapons officer, staged in the ship’s primary flight control.

“They knocked it out of the park,” said Fish. “That was a varsity event conducted by varsity players. While we have the physical presence of an aircraft carrier, the ordnance we just onloaded can back up the power an aircraft carrier and airwing can project. This is a huge milestone for the ship, the fleet and the nation, as we work our way through 21st century naval aviation.”

Once the ammunition is on the flight deck, it is transported to the aircraft elevators and brought down to the hangar bay where it is lowered down to the magazines with the Advanced Weapons Elevators, and safely stored.

“They were fast, smooth and no major faults,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeff Towry, the weapon’s engineer, speaking about the Advanced Weapons Elevators. “They performed outstandingly.”

On the second day, the Medgar Evers pulled along the starboard side of Ford and shot messenger lines across the water from the hangar bay, receiving ammunition with the sliding padeye operated by Ford’s deck department, under the supervision of Lt. Cmdr. Deena Abt, the ship’s deck officer.

“Things were slow and smooth, but efficient,” said Abt. “This proves cohesiveness of our togetherness. There are a lot of moving parts in an operation like this. The team came together to do their part and succeeded very well. Teamwork is key, and I believe we do that well onboard.”

While Evers was alongside Ford, HSC-9 continued vertical delivery of ammunition from flight deck to flight deck.

The third day continued with a flow of ammunition from the flight deck to the hangar bay and down to the magazines, all the while safety is the first priority.

“Everyone performed very well and kept the flow,” said Keaton. “The team was very flexible when striking down all the ordnance in an extremely safe manner. The safety observers did a great job and it was an overall team effort.”

This three-day evolution is the final underway objective before Ford’s first deployment this fall.

Ford is underway in the Atlantic Ocean conducting carrier qualifications and workups for a scheduled deployment this fall.

For more information about the USS Gerald R. Ford, visit and follow along on Facebook @USSGeraldRFord, Instagram @cvn78_grford, Twitter @Warship_78 and DVIDS


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