EAST CHINA SEA – In order to maintain efficiency during deployments, the deck division aboard Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) trains to maintain shipboard readiness.
Each member of the deck division is tasked with supporting the routine operations by participating in training exercises that help improve Sailors’ skills and awareness of the potential hazards surrounding them.
In addition to multiple watches each Sailor stands, the deck division is responsible for a wide variety of unique tasks. This includes anchoring and mooring the ship, taking on fuel and cargo during underway replenishments, supervising flight deck operations and vertical replenishments, taking on passengers, and helicopter in-flight refueling. Each task requires particular training and procedures to be successfully completed.
“Everything depends on the evolution. If we are doing a vertical replenishment, then we are probably going to get supplies to the ship. To prepare, we conduct our safety walk through, then we proceed with a foreign object debris walk down. When we can we will train our new people for each situation a couple of days in advance,” said Senior Chief (SW) Boatswain’s Mate Junior Ashwood. “This way, everyone will be on the same page, and if I need to have people switch out, we will be prepared no matter the situation. These Sailors are eager to learn and we are making sure we are trained up to run an efficient ship - easy day.”
The high and diverse workload that depends on the deck division makes it critical for each of its 20 Sailors to participate in the numerous evolutions, inspections and work ups.
“The division has it’s hands full, it’s even in charge of the operation small boats, so we get to drive the ridged hull inflatable boats; I even get to drive the ship,” said Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Camille Rowe, deck division’s leading seaman. “We do a few hard checks before we get underway for things like safety jackets and Mark 1s, and we do all the maintenance on every replenishment station, making sure we are ready to go. Since we are responsible for the ship getting underway, we basically have a hand in every evolution.”
Preparation and safety is paramount during any operation, training or otherwise. In the deck division, knowing how to do your job is important - but assuring the safety of the people you work beside is crucial.
“Our deck team works pretty well together and we are able to knock jobs out, but we have to set up for each job making sure we conduct a safe evolution,” said Seaman Apprentice Corey McQueen. “We have to know each other’s strengths and use that to know who we need and where. We make sure not only our equipment is safe to use, but also the gear everyone could use in an emergency, like life rings for a man overboard. Not to mention we can’t do our job if we aren’t safe - we have little room for error.”
Each Sailor plays a vital role in supporting mission readiness and the continuing operation of McCampbell. The time spent training for each job aids in the proficiency of the deck team working together, leaving only one challenge that is difficult to face.
“We have Sailors from all parts of the world and different cultures, and they all bring something amazing to the table. To experience that on a day-to-day basis, and have the opportunity to make them a better Sailor, I can’t think of anything better. The hardest part of my job is transferring Sailors. When we get a Sailor and work side-by-side together, camaraderie is built. Sometimes they get orders or a rating and go off to school, and it’s hard letting good Sailors go. I am extremely proud of my Sailors and the work they do,” said Ashwood.
McCampbell is assigned to Commander, Destroyer Squadron 15 and forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, and is currently on patrol in the 7th Fleet area of operations.