ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) conducted an inaugural anchoring evolution during its independent steaming event on March 15. It was the first time Ford conducted the evolution using its portside anchor.
he successful port anchoring will allow greater flexibility for Ford in future sea and anchor evolutions, accommodating various sea conditions with additional maneuverability.
“Everyone in the forecastle to the bridge watch team who participated did an excellent job,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jason Hinkley, Ford’s First Lieutenant. “The communication was great and it gave our team a chance to remain proficient on a complex evolution such as this.”
Deck department is the team responsible for maintaining and operating the anchor and its chain in the ship’s forecastle. During an anchoring evolution, deck department utilizes nearly a dozen Sailors to stand watches to include a safety observer, riggers, brakemen, and phone talkers who communicate with the teams in the pilot house.
“With the few times we’ve done this evolution we couldn’t have asked for better teamwork from everyone,” said Hinkley. “The bridge team did an outstanding job communicating with our team in the forecastle when we were in the right position to drop the anchor.”
Before the anchor can be dropped, deck department Sailors make the anchors ready for letting go by disengaging the wildcat from the anchor windlass and removing the chain stoppers from the chain. Together with the officer of the deck and members of Ford’s navigation department, the bridge watch team calculates wind and sea conditions then drives the ship over the anchor drop point, and communicates with deck department in the forecastle to release the anchor.
Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin Dunn, one of Ford’s operations officers, stood as the officer of the deck during the evolution and noted the effective communication between Sailors across the ship.
“Communication between the Sailors in the forecastle were clear and improved everyone’s situational awareness as we all learned more about the operations of the windlass on the port side anchor system,” said Dunn. “Deck department communicated to us on the bridge and we were able to respond thanks to effective communication and alertness of our bridge watch team.”
Ford is the only aircraft carrier in service to own 15 ton light weight anchors, Nimitz-class aircraft carriers operate 30 ton anchors. Ford’s anchor chain is also three and a half inches in diameter compared to the four and three quarters diameter of Nimitz-class carriers. These differences highlight the necessity of training and focus with everyone from the newest Sailors to the most experienced officers when conducting anchoring evolutions.
“We have to conduct these evolutions to maintain or proficiency and remain up to date on our qualifications,” said Chief Warrant Officer Steven Sturm, Ford’s ship’s boatswain. “Those qualifications cover multiple watch stations and even more Sailors including new check-ins, officers of the deck, safety observers and even senior officers.”
Ford now has two tested anchors ready for all sea and anchor evolutions.
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