On December 5th, MCM Crew DOMINANT embarked USS CHAMPION (MCM 4) and began making preparations to get her ready to operate underway the following week. The first week back was busy for Crew DOMINANT. They quickly got re-familiarized with CHAMPION after being deployed onboard USS SCOUT (MCM 8) for the past six months. After completing system level assessments and proceeding through equipment light-off procedures they conducted a few needed repairs that ensured all vital equipment was operational. To ensure CHAMPION was ready to operate at sea, the crew conducted a successful Safe-To-Operate-Verification (STOV) with representatives from Mine Countermeasures Squadron THREE and a Fast Cruise. By Friday afternoon Crew DOMINANT was ready to take CHAMPION to sea.
In the midst of a rain storm, CHAMPION proceeded to sea in the late morning of 12 December. With the permission of the Commanding Officer, Crew DOMINANT’s Operations Officer (LTJG Cass) commenced the underway training events as CHAMPION transited safely through the channel in San Diego harbor. First on his list were Navigation drills that are designed to test the Bridge and Combat Information Center (CIC) watch standers throughout the entire restricted waters transit. After successfully completing these events, the crew shifted its focus toward the remaining training and proficiency events that focused on Mine Warfare, but they also included Engineering, Combat Systems, Damage Control, Seamanship, Force Protection training events that were scheduled throughout the entire underway period. The major events included two mine hunting Detect to Engage (DTE) exercises, a Magnetic Influence Sweep, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Boat Vectoring, a Precision Anchorage, Force Protection Drills while at anchor, man overboard recovery drills, Engineering Drill and Evolution sets, various Damage Controls drills, and Medical first aid drills. The litany of events kept the crew on their feet. Their constant and dedicated effort helped each event run smoothly and the training teams ensured each event was executed safely. By the late evening of December 13th all training events were complete and the crew sat back, rested and prepared for the following day’s restricted water transits and the ship’s ammunition transfer.
Just before 0800 on December 14th, Crew DOMINANT moored CHAMPION to North Island’s BRAVO pier. The crew brought CHAMPION here to conduct an ammunition transfer, commonly referred as an AMMO offload. All ammunition that would not be needed during CHAMPION’s upcoming maintenance availability needed to be removed from the ship so that it could be returned to the fleet for issue to any Naval units that may need it. The entire crew worked through the morning and completed the offload in the early afternoon.
Following the offload, CHAMPION transited San Diego’s Bay for the last time in the next six months and moored in BAE shipyard to commence her Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Planned Maintenance Availability. Over the next 6 months CHAMPION will receive seven major ship alterations and numerous depot level repairs to ensure that she will be able to meet her extended service life. Crew DOMINANT performed exceptionally well over their first two weeks onboard CHAMPION. They completed four restricted water transits, 58 separate training requirements and an ammunition offload. They are now working hard to ensure CHAMPION completes her maintenance availability on time.