- Sailors aboard the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) completed an ordnance onload Sept. 23, to prepare for their deployment.
It took the combined efforts of the aviation ordnancemen and gunners mates working hand in hand with Naval Ammunition Command (NAC) Sasebo to complete the onload safely.
“We have to ensure that safe working load limits aren’t surpassed and that all personnel are handling ammunition safely,” said Senior Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Jose Rivera (AW/SW), Essex weapons department leading chief petty officer.
The evolution involved more than 100 Sailors safely transferring ammunition cargo of various sizes to and from the hangar bay. Two cranes were also used to transfer the ordnance from barges to the ship.
“Moving the ordnance from the magazines to the hangar bay can be an all day evolution. After it’s completed it leaves us with a sense of accomplishment,” said Aviation Ordnanceman
3rd Class Valerie Castrellon, safety observer. “It feels good being able to pull together and work as a team.”
The largest concern for Essex Sailors and Japanese contractors is not only the safety of those personnel directly involved, but that of the entire ship.
“We close off sections of the hanger bay to the rest of the ship so that we don’t have people transiting through. Safety is a priority with multiple forklifts being used to move the ammunition around,” said Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Nathan Cable. “We take every precaution to prevent any mishaps from happening.”
Having to bring ordnance on board takes months of preparation in order to organize the number of personnel needed to accomplish the evolution.
“Organization is the key to such an event. The Japanese contractors worked seamlessly with us in the transportation of the ammunition,’’ said Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Peter Phipps. “The evolution took two cranes working simultaneously and the moving of ordnance being directed by both crew of the Essex and the contractors.”
USS Essex (LHD 2), commanded by Capt. David Fluker, is part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group and is on patrol of the Western Pacific.