The U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) conducted an at-sea, ammunition off-load with Military Sealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE 10), Dec. 2-3.
George Washington used vertical and connected replenishment to off-load more than 1,000 pallets of ordnance from the ship’s flight deck and hangar bay.
“I have many safety concerns when we mix ordnance, equipment and people,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jose Colon, George Washington’s ordnance handling officer. “There is a risk of having accidents; however, we preach safety and the use of operational risk management every day.”
According to Colon, there are four things to take into account to prepare for a successful ammunition off-load or on-load – an accurate inventory, qualified personnel, proper maintenance of equipment, and a developed management plan to increase efficiency and effectiveness.
“The U.S. Navy sent me to schools that have allowed me to sponsor more than 15 rapid-improvement events, which in turn gave me the ability to apply the lessons I’ve learned to make our weapons off-loads easier,” said Colon.
Ammunition off-load preparations begin immediately after an on-load; however, weapons department personnel qualifications are the preliminary concern because non-qualified personnel are not allowed to move ordnance.
“The goal is 100% inventory accuracy,” said Colon. “It is important to maintain a good record, but our Sailors is our number one asset, they are not replaceable, therefore, we must program them to take their jobs serious to, in turn, protect the equipment and ultimately, keep us all safe.”
George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its partners and allies in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
Press Release, December 04, 2013; Image: US Navy