SAN DIEGO – Amphibious dock landing ship USS San Diego (LPD 22) completed an ammunition offload while moored pier side at Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach on April 9.
Sailors assigned to San Diego worked with Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach personnel to move more than 350 tons of ammunition from the well deck and flight deck to the pier using approximately 460 crane lifts.
The 10 Gunner's Mates assigned to Combat Guns (CG) division banded, staged, and prepared all of the ordnance for offload. They spent all day working with the Seal Beach personnel and then continued staging ordnance through the night for the next day's operations.
"I'm proud of combat guns division and their performance throughout the offload,” said Ens. Caroline Lopez, San Diego’s ordnance officer. “Despite long hours and often tedious work, the gunner’s mates were dedicated to getting the job done.”
San Diego's ammo accountant prepared over 400 ordnance receipts for the offload. This attention to detail ensured a smooth transfer process.
An operation this size requires the entire to ship to pull together and work as a team to ensure the safe and timely completion of the evolution.
“Hard work from several departments made the evolution a success,” said Lopez. “Engineering assisted with elevator operation and damage control fire parties, and operations department offloaded Nulka (MK 53 Decoy Launching System) and Chaff rounds (Mk 36 SRBOC Chaff and Decoy Launching System), while deck and air department provided forklift support.”
San Diego offloaded a variety of different types of ordnance to include: projectiles, powders, demolition material, small arms, flares, pyrotechnics, rockets, Hellfire missiles, Rolling Airframe Missiles, Nulka and Chaff.
Though high winds caused crane operations to be cut short for the first two days of the four day offload raising concern about meeting the scheduled timeline, safety remained the focal point of operations. Moving ammunition pallets from the ship to shore may seem simple, however it involves many moving parts and a large number of personnel to ensure that all safety precautions are taken and ammunition handling is done correctly.
Commander Naval Surface Forces, Vice Adm. Thomas S. Rowden reiterated this point in a recent message to the surface fleet saying, “Our tradition as a can-do surface Navy does not mean we cut corners, even when, especially when, we are pressed for time.”
Rowden’s message is taken to heart aboard San Diego and it showed throughout the ship during offload operations as they were handled with the utmost observance for safety.
“The most important part of the evolution was ensuring the ordnance was transported from the magazines to the pier safely,” said Lopez. “Qualified ordnance handlers, forklift drivers, and safety observers helped achieve this goal.”
The ammunition offload is one of the final major steps toward San Diego entering an extended maintenance period at BAE Systems San Diego Shipyard in early May.