USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At Sea (NNS) -- The crew of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) returned home June 30 ahead of schedule, after completing their objectives during a two-month underway period.
During the two months at sea, the captain and crew of Stennis and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 practiced several scenarios to test and recertify the ship and its crew in critical mission-related areas, from combating casualties at general quarters to landing aircraft on the flight deck.
Stennis also conducted Tailored Ship's Training Availability (TSTA). During TSTA, Afloat Training Group (ATG) Pacific assessed the crew's proficiency and ability to train itself in all operational areas, directly or indirectly.
"TSTA is designed to bring a ship from an extended maintenance period to being fully operationally ready in a mere three weeks," said Capt. Greg Johnston.
Stennis' operations officer.
The last two days of TSTA brought the Final Evaluation Problem (FEP). FEP is a two-day graded assessment that tests the ships' and the air wing's ability to fully integrate and operate while taking on significant combat damage.
"The crew is trained and prepared to respond to any casualty, in the event it comes their way," said ATG Team Leader Lt. Regina Rogers.
Nine squadrons of the air wing concentrated on reintegration as a single force called Team Shogun. Simultaneously, both Stennis and CWV-9 were coming together as the core of the John C. Stennis Strike Group.
"Our grades during TSTA, FEP were 10 points higher than we earned during [June-July 2006] and the highest this ATG team has seen of any [nuclear-powered aircraft carrier] evaluated," said Commanding Officer Capt. Brad Johanson. "That is a true testimony to the spirit of professionalism aboard USS John C. Stennis."
The Stennis-Shogun team accomplished several certifications.
"Throughout this two-month underway, Stennis capitalized on every opportunity and precisely executed all tasking," said Johnston.
One early accomplishment of the team included flight deck certification.
"The high level of efficiency and proficiency of the crew, throughout TSTA and FEP and carrier qualifications, has enabled us to complete ahead of schedule," said Johnston.
During carrier qualifications, Stennis helped train U.S. Navy pilots as well as coalition pilots from France and India.
"It's really important to have a good relationship with America," said Lt. Eshudosh Bobade, a pilot for the Indian Navy. "I got to come here and train with a United States carrier. If I was in India right now, it would take me four or five years to get my carrier qualification."
The crews' dedication during these qualifications was rewarded.
"Because we were so effective in qualifying the student pilots during the three carrier qualification periods over the past two months, Commander Naval Air Forces has decided they no longer need us to go to sea in August to qualify more students," said Johanson. "Due to our effectiveness in supporting training commands, we will now get to spend more time with our families."
In the final days of the underway period, Stennis loaded and stored more than two million pounds of ordnance in less than 48 hours. This is enough ordnance to last Stennis through its next deployment, explained the Ship's Gunner Lt. Jason Parmley.
Stennis' preparation for deployment is part of the Navy's commitment to maintain a force of combat power capable of protecting America's vital interests and assuring regional stability as part of America's Maritime Strategy.
For more news from USS John C. Stennis, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn74/.