The U.S. 6th Fleet flagship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) arrived in her homeport of Gaeta, Italy, March 20, after a three-day underway, in which a number of drills and training scenarios were completed.
Evolutions accomplished included basic and advanced damage control, steering casualties, helicopter deck landing qualifications, vertical replenishment qualifications, antiterrorism and force protection (ATFP) drills, small arms qualifications, and medical drills.
“Training scenarios like these allow us to maintain our operational readiness,” said Lt. Benjamin Nehrke, Mount Whitney’s operations officer. “If we did not conduct these drills, our Sailors and CIVMARs (civil service mariners) would not have the opportunity to enhance their knowledge or proficiency, which could be detrimental to mission effectiveness in the future.”
The training began March 18 with a simulated loss of steering shortly after getting underway. Military Sealift Command CIVMARs; who are responsible for engineering, navigation and steering, quickly responded to the casualty, safely navigating the ship out danger until the issue was corrected.
The day finished with nearly 50 Sailors qualifying on the M9 service pistol and M16 rifle during a small arms qualification course on the flight deck.
“Any time we can go to sea and conduct small arms weapons qualifications helps to increases the Sailors confidence in their watch standing abilities, and goes on to enhance our ship’s ATFP readiness,” said Chief Master-at-Arms Guy Bratt, assigned to Mount Whitney.
March 19, Mount Whitney CIVMARs completed a successful anchor drop evolution on both anchors, while Sailors ran through various force protection drills.
Later in the afternoon, the operations department ran another successful small arms qualification. At the completion of the gun shoot, the small-caliber action team conducted a practical application drill, giving the MK 38, .50cal and M240 machine gun operators the opportunity to hone their skills.
Wrapping up Wednesday was an integrated training team drill involving the medical department and repair lockers during a mass casualty scenario.
“The Sailors conducted an excellent integrated drill today,” said Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class Darrett Whitfield, a damage control training team member. “They successfully combated the fire and properly assessed the personnel casualties on scene.”
Mount Whitney, homeported in Gaeta, Italy, is the flagship for Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet. The ship operates with a combined crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners. The civil service mariners perform navigation, deck, engineering, laundry and galley service operations while military personnel aboard support communications, weapons systems and security.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts a full range of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation missions in concert with coalition, joint, interagency, and other parties in order to advance security and stability in Europe and Africa.
Press Release, March 21, 2014; Image: Wikimedia