PACIFIC OCEAN – Sailors aboard forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) monitored cargo safety procedures during a movement of ammunition Aug. 16.
Prior to deployment Bonhomme Richard was refitted to ensure the right ammunition was aboard to support the forward-deployed marine expeditionary units (MEU).
“When moving this type of cargo, safety checks are vital because there isn’t a second chance, said Lt. Chad Saner,” from the Navy Munitions Command in Sasebo, Japan. “If we drop one of these explosives it’s going to wipe the area out,” said Saner.
Sailors who are safety watches keep a close eye on any safety violations like loose straps that hold the cargo in place. They also make sure that any required proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is worn. The ammunition movement procedure involves heavy equipment such as forklifts and cranes and many moving personnel.
“We’re making sure that everybody else is doing their job correctly and of course with published procedure,” said Lt Kevin Williams, weapons officer aboard Bonhomme Richard. “We have to make sure that the bravo flag is raised because we’re handling flammable and hazardous material.”
Safety procedures are important to those handling the cargo and those aboard who could be in harms way should any of the ammunition fall and discharge. The ammunition being moved varies from charges to missiles.
“Most of this is ground force marine ammunition,” said Williams. “It’s everything from 155 mm projectiles, to propelling charges, javelin missiles, small arms ammunition, grenades and rockets. If we didn’t put these safety procedures into place then there could be very severe consequences.”
Safety is always a high priority aboard Bonhomme Richard. In every situation, not only when handling ammunition, safety takes precedence. The primary mission of the Navy is war fighting, but the safety of each Sailor in the United States Navy is valued and protected through drills, briefs and procedures.
“The jobs we do underway are inherently dangerous,” said Lt. John Scott, Safety Officer aboard Bonhomme Richard. “Safety is an all-hands responsibility, so every Sailor should be on the lookout for anything that might pose a danger to themselves or their shipmates.”