BREMERTON, Wash. - USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) returned to its homeport after successful sea trials, Aug. 13, completing the last phase of its planned incremental availability (PIA) five days early.
Sea trials are conducted following a major shipyard maintenance period in order to evaluate the ship’s systems and crew for operational readiness. John C. Stennis not only completed the largest six-month PIA for an aircraft carrier ever attempted, but did so ahead of schedule.
“The success of our sea trials was a testament to the work our crew and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF) team put into our availability,” said Capt. Greg Huffman, John C. Stennis’ commanding officer. “Our ship and crew are now ready to face their next mission, preparing for the certifications and training needed for operations around the world.”
John C. Stennis’ PIA included more than 2,800,000 man-hours of work, including opening, cleaning and inspecting 104 tanks and vent spaces, conducting repairs to John C. Stennis’ collection, holding and transfer tanks, installing a new incinerator, a feat never before completed during a six-month availability and replacing the trough cover for one of the carrier’s catapults – again, never before accomplished during a six-month availability.
“The key to accomplishing these projects was the carrier team taking on the lessons learned from other carriers and applying them to our own work strings,” said Capt. P. Scott Miller, John C. Stennis’ executive officer. “In particular, our success would not have been possible without the experience we gained from other incinerator and cat [catapult] trough projects.”
During sea trials, John C. Stennis Sailors exercised the ship’s systems, including combat systems, damage control equipment, flight deck and engineering systems.
“We’re trying to test everything that was worked during the PIA and at the same time build some proficiency in the watch standers to make sure, with the months that we have been in port, that we get back into a proficient level,” said Cmdr. T. J. Zerr, John C. Stennis’ reactor officer, from Denver.
Sailors also put into practice their seamanship skills underway for the first time since beginning the availability, and simulated flight deck operations with operational catapults.
“From the crew’s perspective, you have to really shift how you’re approaching day-to- day operations from more of a maintenance environment to getting back into an operational mode,” said Zerr.
The ship’s success during sea trials was the culmination of six months of effort between the ship’s crew, shipyard personnel and contractors.
"The CVN 74 team, from the commanding officer to the project superintendent, all the way down to the junior Sailor and mechanic on the deck plate, has understood from day one the importance of completing John C. Stennis' 2017 fiscal year PIA on schedule,” said Mike Irby, PSNS & IMF project superintendent. “Through tremendous effort and teamwork, team Stennis completed this availability five days ahead of schedule. This accomplishment could not have been achieved without the maintenance deployment mindset of Capt. Huffman and his department head leadership instilling a unique sense of urgency from day one to succeed."
John C. Stennis has returned to Bremerton, and will now conduct training and evolutions to prepare them to return to operations at sea.