PARAMARIBO, Suriname (NNS) -- Sailors on board the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) have been providing humanitarian assistance to 8 different countries, as well as bettering themselves professionally by earning their warfare qualifications during deployment.
A total of 366 Sailors have earned their Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) or Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist (EAWS) qualifications, or both, since deploying in July.
Chief Information Systems Technician (SW/AW) Craig Harris, command ESWS coordinator, explains the importance of Sailors earning their qualifications.
"They [warfare qualifications] are beneficial for every Sailor in their Naval career," said Harris. "You have to have a knowledgeable crew of fully qualified personnel for a Naval vessel to be operational and ready to fight and to keep her afloat."
Warfare qualification is important for Sailors giving them a good familiarization of their ship. During the qualification process, Sailors are exposed to a vast number of jobs and learn the roles of everyone onboard.
The qualification process involves four separate parts: The Surface and Aviation Common Core qualification standards, the LHD specific qualification standards, written examination, and an oral board. The common core consists of policies, concepts, and responsibilities within the entire scope of Naval aviation and Naval surface warfare's from maintenance procedures to enlisted ratings.
The LHD specific qualification is unique to the Wasp class ship. "Sailors are responding to the program very well, and it's working," said Aviation Boatswain Mates Handling 1st class (AW/SW) Scott Lee, assistant EAWS coordinator. "They have remained consistently motivated even after very long and strenuous days working on the flight deck, engine room and ashore via community relations (COMREL) projects. These Sailors have worked tirelessly toward completing their examinations, practicing subject matter walkthroughs, and passing a rigorous board all to achieve both surface and aviation qualifications."
Cryptologic Technician Collection 1st Class Eliu Ortiz who came from Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Texas, joined the Iwo Jima CP10 team and took advantage to complete all prerequisites and both warfare qualifications.
"I basically used most of my time off to get signatures, go to training, and study for the written tests and the oral boards," said Ortiz. "I was surprised with the opportunity and time given to me to board earlier than I planned."
Sailors across the Navy are pushing towards obtaining their ESWS and EAWS. "Now that enrollment into these programs are mandatory and will directly affect a members Perform to Serve results, its very satisfying knowing that I play a huge role in helping to shape a Sailors career," said Lee
An estimated 85 more Sailors are expected to qualify before the ship returns to its homeport of Norfolk, Va. mid-November.
For more news from USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd7/.