USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) conducted an ammunition upload for multiple weapons systems used in shipboard defense March 15-17.
Enterprise is equipped with two phalanx close-in weapons systems (CIWS), two NATO Sea Sparrow Missile Systems, and two rolling airframe missile (RAM) mounts.
"Our primary responsibility, as Combat Systems, Weapons Division, is ship's self-defense; meaning if the tactical action officer needs us to destroy a threat to the ship, we are able to register a threat and neutralize it," said Ensign John Tatro, fire control officer for Enterprise. "With us, ensuring everything is operating properly and safely is a key concern."
In order to arm the weapons systems of Enterprise, Sailors with Combat Systems Department must follow proper procedures to ensure the ammunition used to defend the ship does not harm the crew in the process.
"There are a lot of safety precautions we take in order to ensure the safety of the ordnance handlers and the crew," said Chief Fire Controlman John Tuley. "Our ordnance handlers have to become qualified, we hold a safety briefing before the actual ammunition loading, and we have safety observers on-scene while loading, among other personal safety precautions."
During the upload, the ship sets hazardous electromagnetic radiation to ordnance (HERO) conditions, to reduce risk of damage to uploaded explosives.
"It's nerve-wracking working around live ordnance, and you don't want to become complacent," said Fire Controlman 3rd Class Wayne Pattillo. "Listening to the assigned team leader is paramount, they are the only voice on the missile platform."
The ammunition upload took approximately three days, the efforts of an entire division of Sailors, and resulted in the loading of 2,800 rounds into the CWIS mounts, eight RIM-7M missiles loaded into the Sea Sparrow Missile System, and 21 missiles loaded into each RAM mount.
"The ordnance handling and loading teams did outstanding," said Tatro. "All the team leaders were on point, they followed procedures exactly, and they far exceeded my expectations."
Enterprise is conducting its 22nd and final deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security operations in the U.S. Navy's 5th and 6th fleet areas of responsibility.
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