SAN DIEGO – The Avenger-class mine countermeasure ship USS Champion (MCM 4) returned to Naval Base San Diego following the successful completion of a survey operation in the waters off the coast of Southern California, Sept. 11.
During the underway, the Champion crew used the Klein 5000, a side-scan sonar device, to conduct an environmental survey of the ocean floor below busy travel routes off the coast of Los Angeles. The evolution allowed Champion to use sonar technology in order to develop an understanding of the seabed topography.
“Typically mine countermeasure ships are relegated to a support role,” said Lt. Cmdr. J. D. Kristenson, USS Champion commanding officer. “The vision is for us to broaden the mission set. This survey will help keep communication lines open, which is a big part of any operation plan. This has certainly been a new and exciting application of our capabilities”
In the case of a natural disaster or any other threat, developing an accurate picture of the sea-floor to reference could be essential for military and civilian vessels alike in the heavily trafficked off-shore areas.
“In the event of we need to, we will be able to compare the data we are collecting now with the data collected in the future,” said Chief Mineman Tyler King, USS Champion Combat Information Center and Operations Department leading chief petty officer. “When we know what is already out there, we can detect irregularities on the ocean floor. Irregularities that were not present during the survey we are doing on this mission.”
The crew was able to map 187 nautical miles of the sea floor along the often traveled passageways during the mission.
“This is a pretty important evolution,” King said. “These sea lanes are vital. This survey really plays into the overall maritime picture for both civilian and military assets. We have the opportunity to play a bigger role in supporting the fleet, and we are ready.”
Obstacles to success can arise when undertaking new roles, but according to King, the crew took those hurdles in stride and managed to achieve a successful survey mission.
“The crew has been working sunrise to sunset to ensure everything runs smoothly,” King said. “We worked hard and finished strong.”
The Champion crew accomplished all goals related to the survey mission. All hands worked together, at every level to guarantee success.
“I couldn’t have accomplished anything without the support of my shipmates and chain of command,” said Mineman Seaman Jamie Summerville, USS Champion armory maintenance person.” Their leadership and mentorship motivates me to try harder, do better, and accomplish all they ask of me.”
The cooperative environment on board allowed the crew the opportunity to focus on the safe completion of the multifaceted exercise.
“In a peacetime environment, there is nothing that this ship could do concerning mission accomplishment that would be viewed as a success if we break equipment or injure Sailors,” Kristenson said. “For any mission, we endeavor to mitigate risk while doing dangerous work and operating safely at sea.”
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