BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- Two Sailors listened attentively beneath the mast of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) for the whistle that would symbolize the end of one journey and the beginning of a new one.
A shrill blast pierced the air on the morning of Nov. 5, as both Sailors raised the American flag on the ship's mast for the first time in over a year. Stennis was ready to return to sea, the last phase of her docking planned incremental availability (DPIA) period. After a successful six-day sea trial, the ship returned to homeport in Bremerton, Washington Nov.10 fully certified as a Naval operational asset.
The aircraft carrier had been stationed at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS) and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Bremerton for the past 16 months, where it received upgrades to its firefighting, navigation, weapons and combat systems. Major evolutions during DPIA ranged from the removal and maintenance of Stennis' rudder and propellers during dry dock to the implementation of the Consolidated Afloat Network Enterprise Services (CANES) system. In total, the project comprised over 92,000 man hours.
"A monumental amount of work has been accomplished since we began DPIA in June 2013," said Capt. Michael Wettlaufer, Stennis' commanding officer. "After 16 months of maintenance, the Stennis and PSNS team is returning this great ship to the fleet. Our success is founded on absolute commitment to a common goal of operation readiness."
In addition to renovations, Stennis organized and applied command-wide training, general knowledge tests and drills for the crew in order to meet fast cruise and underway deadlines. It was all part of certifying ship's crew for their long-awaited sea trials.
"In the beginning we were a little unorganized," said Seaman Corey Stinson, from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. "But before long, we were setting zones faster, patching pipes and putting out simulated fires more efficiently because of our improved teamwork."
During sea trials, Stennis tested its equipment and emergency protocols, performing high-power turns, running damage control drills and acclimating new crew members to life at sea.
"Sea trials is the culmination of DPIA," said Lt. Cmdr. Todd Nelson, from Bremerton, Washington. "It is the capstone that will test all the work performed on the ship, from main engine work to steam valves and catapults, to ensure everything is fully operational."
Keeping true to its motto, Stennis will continue looking ahead as it tackles future developments in the upcoming months. These evolutions include certifying the carrier's flight deck so that it can support Carrier Air Wing 9 and other West Coast squadrons, as well as coordinated training with the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group in group sails off the West Coast. Before deployment, Stennis must also carry out an extended training period called "workups" and complete a thorough ship inspection and survey evaluation.
For more news from USS John C. Stennis visit www.stennis.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/stennis 74 or www.navy.mil/local/cvn74/.