San Diego, CA - MILIUS returned to port on November 14, following a nine day underway period during which she played a vital part in preparing the USS NIMITZ Strike Group for an upcoming Middle-Eastern deployment. The Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) incorporated air, surface, and subsurface units to simulate real-world scenarios. Operations Specialist Third Class Joseph Dooling participated in the event from his watch station in the Combat Information Center. “I really enjoyed learning how a strike group operates,” commented Dooling. “It was an excellent training experience.”
During the six day exercise, MILIUS acted as part of the opposing force to the strike group, launching several simulated missions against the aircraft carrier and her escorts. “The ship and crew performed masterfully,” recalls CDR Shedd. “The role we played in the exercise contributed invaluable training to the strike group that, without our participation, would not have been received otherwise.”
MILIUS also took advantage of the underway time to reinforce proficiency in several shipboard evolutions. The crew conducted helicopter deck landing qualifications (DLQs), an underway replenishment with USNS Rainier, and numerous damage control, engineering, and medical training drills. “The underway time was a great chance for the new sailors onboard to get tons of training,” stated Gas Turbine Systems Technician – Electrical Second Class Demetrius Williams. “This was a valuable opportunity for the entire crew,” he said.
This marked the final underway for the ship and crew before entering an extended maintenance availability. Immediately after pulling into port, the crew began the tremendous process of moving off the ship, clearing the way for countless repairs and upgrades scheduled to occur over the next eight months. The offload required the removal of all gear, from personal items and office equipment to food, repair parts, and tools. Sailors relocated much of the gear to an afloat messing and berthing facility nested alongside the ship. The “barge” contains offices, classrooms, mess areas, and berthings that give the crew a place to continue day to day operations while maintaining ownership of MILIUS. “We’ve got our work cut out for us during this overhaul,” commented CDR Shedd, “but I wouldn’t want to go through it with any other crew in the U.S. Navy. The high caliber of Sailors I have aboard amazes me.”
On Thanksgiving, MILIUS Sailors enjoyed a complimentary feast hosted by fellow shipmates. Members of the First Class Petty Officer Association, Chief Petty Officer Mess, and the Wardroom combined efforts and delivered a delectable Thanksgiving dinner, complete with all the trimmings. “It was a huge success and really showed the camaraderie of the crew. It meant a lot to those away from family during the holiday,” said Fire Controlman Third Class Ryan Smith. The feast was held on the barge messdecks and was open to all Milius Sailors.