– The Mine Countermeasure (MCM) Ship Crews Olympian and Spartan departed San Diego, May 30, for a six-month deployment aboard mine warfare ships forward deployed to the 5th Fleet Area of Operation.
More than 170 individual augmentees from about 100 commands around the fleet formed the two crews in December in order to sustain the manning of rotationally crewed MCMs whose deployment lengths increased as the result of U.S. Central Command request for additional mine countermeasure assets in theater.
“We came together not knowing each other, on a ship we had never been on, and built our qualifications and programs from the bottom up,” said Crew Spartan Commanding Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Edward Pledger. “I am very proud of the crew. They are a very talented group of Sailors, with a lot of experience and knowledge, and I am very impressed with the teamwork and camaraderie they have shown these last few months.”
The crews spent 16 weeks executing the Afloat Training Group basic phase, proving competency in engineering, navigation, mine sweeping, and supply readiness and validating the crews are prepared for deployment.
“It is eye-watering how hard they have worked to meet the mark every single moment. We have executed the training phase in an extremely compressed amount of time and were able to complete our certifications on time,” said Pledger. “It is a real testament to what they have accomplished and will accomplish during our deployment.”
U.S. Fleet Forces Command, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Naval Personnel Command played an integral part in creating these crews, according to Ed White, the deputy N1 at Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CNSP). N1 is responsible for manpower, personnel and force retention.
“They worked closely with the CNSP N1 team as well as Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCMRON) 3 staff to ensure the success of standing the IA MCM crews Spartan and Olympian,” White said. “I also applaud Afloat Training Group for their efforts in adjusting their schedules and getting these crews trained and certified in a timely manner. All in all, it was a huge success for such a difficult task.”
Sailors from Crew Olympian will relieve Crew Fearless aboard USS Dextrous (MCM 13) and Spartan will relieve MCM Crew Bulwark aboard USS Sentry (MCM 3).
“This is my first time on an MCM and it is definitely a different atmosphere. Everything has been fast-paced, but I was able to shadow other Sailors and get the training I needed,” said Mineman 3rd Class Ervin Weeks. “I am looking forward to the upcoming deployment and ready to work hard because I know great things will come from it. The only thing that will be difficult is leaving my family because it is the first time I am leaving them and it is my first deployment.”
MCMs in C5F are traditionally manned with rotational crews, called crew swapping, which increases forward presence by keeping a single ship hull present in a given area of operations while swapping crews at six to seven month intervals. Crews Olympian and Spartan will execute a typical MCM rotational crew deployment.
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