Vigilance and Teamwork: How a Truman RAS Comes Together

Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Linday Preston // Staff Writer

 

Sailors aboard aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) come together each week to successfully bring on fuel, ammunition, cargo and mail through a difficult but critical evolution called a replenishment-at-sea.

Conducting a RAS allows the ship to continue its mission indefinitely without pulling into port.

“We prepare for the RAS 48 hours prior to the scheduled date,” said Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Elisha Chastain. “This evolution is what we like to call coordinated chaos and a lot of strategic planning and preparation go into conducting a successful RAS. It takes everyone in the deck department to man three fueling stations and four cargo receiving stations. Everyone must have their head in the game and make sure they are aware of their surroundings.”

As Truman pulls along side a dry cargo and ammunition ship (T-AKE) and a fleet replenishment oiler (T-AO), Sailors from various departments man their stations ready for the RAS to begin.

“The sound of the shot line, once fired to the other ship, announces the beginning of the RAS,” said Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Amelia Guzman. “This step is the most important because without the other ship receiving the shot line, we would not be able to hook up lines for us to receive fuel and cargo. Nothing can happen until that line is shot and I love being the one who is responsible for that.”

Each station plays a vital role in swiftly transporting ammunition, cargo and mail to their proper locations.

“When weapons are loaded on to the ship they take priority,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Jeffery Sirois. “It is important for us to quickly transport bombs from the flight deck, to the hangar bay then down to the magazines and it takes all of weapons department to accomplish that.”

After all of the ammunition is stored, mail begins to flood Hangar Bay 3 and is sorted into different departments. Truman receives an average of 14,000 pounds of mail each RAS so organization is very important to ensure Sailors receive their packages.

“Mail has a great impact on morale throughout the entire ship,” said Chief Logistics Specialist Adrian Galang. “Because it takes a lot to sort mail in a timely manner, Sailors should be mindful of the address they provide for their loved ones. Be sure to include department, division and box number. Let their loved ones know to not send liquids as these products can ruin care packages and make them unsalvageable.”

Because so many Sailors move throughout the hangar bay to transport mail and other goods throughout the ship, Security stands watch to ensure personnel not involved stand clear.

“We secure the hatches in the hangar bay and control traffic to guarantee things go smoothly and safely,” said Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Aaron Stehle. “Most Sailors who are not involved in the RAS [may] not pay attention and could possibly put themselves in harms way.”

To help ensure the safety of all personnel involved, Sailors from the Safety department also stand by to make sure all precautions are taken and Sailors are wearing the proper personal protective equipment.

“We are there to supervise the overall evolution and take the proper precautions in case any mishaps were to happen,” said Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Malik Leslie. “We want to promote awareness and safety and make sure everyone conducts their part properly.”

If an emergency or mishap does occur, Sailors from Medical department are ready to react at a moment’s notice.

“We are there in case a casualty happens,” said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Marcus Reyes. “We can quickly assess the patient and treat any injuries. To help prevent injuries, Sailors must remain vigilant, do their part and don’t skip any steps. Anytime a Sailor becomes complacent, the evolution begins to become more dangerous and increase the possibility of an actual casualty occurring.”

A complex evolution such as a replenishment-at-sea calls for teamwork, vigilance and determination. When Truman Sailors come together to conduct a RAS in a swift and timely manner, the ship is able to carry out its mission. The safety of all personnel takes top priority and it is through coordinate chaos that a successful replenishment-at-sea occurs.

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USS Harry S. Truman’s Operations Department in the Spotlight

Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Adelola Tinubu // Staff Writer

 

An operation is defined as an organized and concerted activity involving a number of people. Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group’s Operations Department assists in coordinating the efforts of Sailors within each department and squadron to unify efforts toward Truman’s mission to fight and win at sea.

The duties of Sailors within the department include but are not limited to, creating and dispersing schedules and air plans, identifying surface and air traffic, coordinating the launch and recovery of aircraft, and monitoring the ship’s self defense system.

Truman’s Operations Department consists of five divisions; Operations Administration, Combat Direction Center, Meteorology and Oceanography, STRIKE, and Carrier Air Traffic Control. Together these groups work as a united force to carry out the mission of the ship.

Admin handles the paperwork for everything done in Operations. Combat Direction Center coordinates Truman’s combat efforts throughout various missions, Meteorology and Oceanography determines the weather to inform plans at sea and in the air. STRIKE develops air plans, and CATCC controls the direction of aircraft immediately following departure.

Air Traffic Controller 1st Class Amadeo Chavez, the leading petty officer of CATCC, has 18 years of experience as the familiar voice directing pilots returning from an assignment. According to Chavez, CATCC’s main duty is to provide customer service to the pilots.

“When a pilot comes back from an 8 hour departure it’s very reassuring for them to hear a Sailor’s voice on the frequency,” said Chavez. “They know it’s one step closer to getting home. In addition to this, we’re able to assist in case of any emergency.”

Chief Air Traffic Controller Narciso Penate stressed the importance of Operations Sailors remaining in communication with pilots while they are airborne.

“Our job becomes really important at night and during bad weather,” said Penate. “During times of poor visibility we are the pilot’s eyes. Our job is crucial because we have the pilot’s lives in our hands.”

The departments Administration division is mission essential as well.

Yeoman 1st Class Jennifer Thompson has worked in Operations Department for one year. Her duties include processing paperwork, qualifications and evaluations that are directly related to Truman’s general operations. As a yeoman, Thompson provides support to Sailors involved in aircraft launch and recovery, combat direction and weather analysis.

“I enjoy being a part of Operations because it makes me feel like I’m directly contributing to the ship’s mission,” said Thompson. “Being a yeoman here allows you to gain knowledge about what those Sailors do and how they contribute to Truman. It gives you a frontline view of everything, from when they launch aircraft, to when you hear the alerts over the 1MC.”

In addition to taking care of the ship, Operations department assists Sailors by coordinating the logistics with Supply Department to move mail, personnel, and supplies. All of this is done through the air transfer office.

“Receiving mail and fresh fruits and vegetables boosts morale onboard and supports keeping the ship in good working order,” said Truman’s Operations officer. “[Our department] also reassures Sailors onboard that they are safe from air, surface and subsurface threats.”

Teamwork and cooperation from the entire ship may be the glue that holds everything together, directly contributing to the overall success of Operations department.

“We perform our function as part of this Truman team by driving the efforts of all other departments,” said Truman’s Operations officer. “The other departments are able to maximize their potential because they can rely on Operations to plan future evolutions and to execute the task given to them. Every Sailor in Operations stands out because of their pride, professionalism and their role in ensuring the success of Truman.”

Rain or Shine: METOC Stands the Watch

Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Lindsay Preston // Staff Writer

 

Sailors have long known the importance of weather conditions while at sea. From forecasting low visibility to rough seas, the Aerographer’s Mates aboard aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) are responsible for ensuring the safety of personnel, aircraft and the ship.

Meteorology and Oceanography division (METOC) determines weather forecasts to inform plans at sea and in the air. Their weather observations and calculations support the safety of navigation and flight operations as well as replenishments-at-sea. They collect this information using satellite imagery, radars and weather meters such as a kestrel.

“The biggest impact we have is information warfare,” said Aerographer’s Mate 1st Class Caroline Petty. “By providing products throughout our Strike Group, we give warfare commanders a better picture of what will give us the advantage when performing operations and weather plays a major role on how these operations will be carried out.”

METOC records observations every half hour during flight operations and look for potential adverse weather conditions. These conditions include sea heights, wind and speed directions that effect the launching of aircraft and cloud heights that can effect turbulence and hinder visibility for pilots in the air.

“The inherent nature of the job is a continuous state of change because weather never stays the same,” said Aerographer’s Mate 3rd Class Barry Deleonlee. “We have to stay on top of our observations because it can directly affect operations.”

METOC is made up of 14 Sailors who work around the clock to update weather information up to four days or more in advance. These observations are passed down to all personnel directly involved or in charge of ship operations such as the navigator, officer of the deck, air boss and pilots. Aerographer’s Mates also provide briefs that highlight safer routes for pilots to avoid potential thunderstorms or severe cloud coverage. When low visibility is predicted or reported, the officer of the deck is able to adjust the ship’s course accordingly.

“Weather doesn’t stop or get a day off,” said Aerographer’s Mate 1st Class Richard Walker. “Sailors in METOC are constantly supporting the Strike Group by detecting and informing the rest of the ship of hazardous weather.”

In addition to providing weather conditions for the ship out at sea, METOC also provides forecasts for bombing areas to help produce ranges for pilots and targeting systems.

“Not only do we want to take into account the weather around the ship but we also want to find vulnerabilities in our radar,” said Aerographer’s Mate 2nd Class Zachary Schwartz. “We relay this information to intelligence department, so their leaders can make informed decisions on how to carry out the mission effectively and safely.”

The environment can play a determining factor in the success of a particular mission. Incorporating weather and ocean forecasts into operational decision-making allows leaders to account for, and even take advantage of environmental conditions.

Husband and Wife Serve at Sea: Everyday Heroes Part 2 of 6

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Bobby J Siens // Staff Writer

 

At sea, a husband and wife serve their country — often separated by distance, they are connected by love of country and of each other. Lt. Cmdr. Kate Batten, the maintenance department head assigned to the “Wallbangers” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 117, and Lt. Todd Batten, commanding officer U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Aquidneck (WPB 1309) have served their country for a combined 27 years, and as a married couple since 2013. Now the two serve in separate services, on separate platforms, deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Lt. Cmdr. Batten is responsible for 119 Sailors in the Wallbanger’s maintenance department aboard Truman. She coordinates the daily and future maintenance efforts of four E-2C Hawkeyes flying combat operations for OIR, while Lt. Batten is responsible for all aspects of leading 22 Coast Guardsmen in the execution of the Aquidneck’s mission in support of OIR.

“We knew going into our relationship and marriage that the first couple years were going to be really tough,” said Lt. Cmdr. Batten. “The majority of our relationship has been spent apart, and that has been a challenge.”

Lt. Cmdr. Batten said communication is the key to making things work in a marriage like theirs when you constantly spend long periods of time apart.

“You have to master the art of communication,” said Lt. Cmdr. Batten. “By any means possible; email, phone, the internet, whatever is available. We’ve had to make some pretty big decisions over email, which is not ideal, but you find a way.”

“It definitely takes an extra amount of planning … but there is not a moment that goes by that it isn’t worth it,” said Lt. Batten.

The Wallbangers are an element of the Harry S. Truman Carrier StrikeGroup, which deployed in November, conducting air strikes to degrade the capabilities of ISIS. Strikes have destroyed key targets, including financial institutions and weapons caches.

The U.S. Coast Guard also has a large presence in the fifth fleet area of operations.

“We have six patrol boats and 250 people stationed in Bahrain,” said Lt. Batten. “We conduct missions similar to our Navy counterparts, including maritime security operations, counter smuggling, and training with foreign navies and coast guards.”

Lt. Batten visited Destroyer Squadron 28, April 5, which is embarked onboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) to brief the U.S. Coast Guard’s capabilities. It was an added bonus his briefing happened to take place on the ship his wife serves aboard.

“It’s definitely a unique circumstance,” said Lt. Batten “That, combined with getting to experience a trap and launch off the flight deck of an aircraft carrier is really cool, but that doesn’t overshadow getting to see my wife!”

Lt. Cmdr. Batten said she and her husband will be colocated in October 2016, which she credits to the positive experience they’ve had with the Navy’s and Coast Guard’s commitment to families.

“This was the first time that we’ve had to negotiate orders together,” said Lt. Cmdr. Batten. “The process was actually easier than we thought. Our detailers were able to work together and we were assured we would be colocated.”

Lt. Cmdr. Batten said having her husband aboard Truman while deployed was a first-time experience for both of them.

 

“This is his first time on a Navy aircraft carrier,” said Lt. Cmdr. Batten. “It’s nice that things worked out and we were able to have this experience.”

Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

Warriors of the Air and Sea

Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jordan Twiss // Staff Writer

 

While on their first aircraft carrier deployment, the “Proud Warriors” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 72 maintain a standard of excellence carried over from their days as Anti- Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 42. As they integrate into Carrier Air Wing 7, HSM-72 demonstrates the adaptable nature of the MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter as they grow into their role in the air wing, providing enhanced surveillance coordination operations.

HSM-72’s primary missions, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, provide security for the Harry S. Truman Strike Group.

 

“Our squadron maintains around-the-clock airborne coverage,” said Lt. Skip Lambert, HSM-72’s avionics and armament division officer. “We have a helo there to keep an eye out and protect us from possible threats.”

 

The Proud Warriors operate an extended sensory platform for the strike group remaining alert to potential ship and submarine threats.

 

“We might not be the ones dropping the bombs,” said Cmdr. Jason Sherman, commanding officer, HSM-72. “But we have a great sense of pride in what we’re doing.”

 

The Proud Warrior mission statement, “To launch combat ready aircraft with the best trained aircrew on time, every time. Set the standard for mission execution within [the Carrier Air Wing] and the HSM community,” is embodied by everyone, from the commanding officer to the junior enlisted.

 

“I love it,” says Aviation Machinists Mate Airman Kyle Schmitt. “It’s a great feeling to put a helicopter together, then look out and see it flying and think I made that possible.”

 

From the maintenance personnel to the flight crews, the Sailors’ professionalism and effort does not go unnoticed.

 

“I am humbled ever y day by the opportunity to be at this command,” said Sherman. “It’s because of the level of pride and professionalism my Sailors show.”

 

HSM-72, originally HSL-42 was established in 1984, as a detachment based expeditionary squadron that flew the first Sea Hawk variant. The transition in 2013 featured an upgraded platform and equipment to provide increased maritime coverage for the carrier strike group. The squadron kept it’s name and, despite the changes, the symbol of the Proud Warrior carried on.

 

“Being a Proud Warrior means you can accomplish any task put in front of you,” said Schmitt. “You do it quickly and by the book, making sure it gets done.”

 

HSM-72, assigned to Naval Air Station Jacksonville, is deployed as part of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

From the U.S. Virgin Islands to the USS Harry S. Truman: One Sailor Has Made His Dreams a Reality

Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Lindsay Preston // Staff Writer

 

Off the coast of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, a small remote island in the Caribbean, resides a house nestled on the hillside overlooking a bay deep enough for an aircraft carrier. It was a hot and sunny evening during the summer of 1996 when a 14-year-old boy sat on the front porch with his uncle and watched aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) pull into port.

“My uncle served on the Washington and was very proud to call it his ship,” said Aviation Support Equipment Technician 1st Class David Crossley. “We sat for hours watching the liberty boats go back and forth, the lights go up across the flight deck and although I knew nothing was going to happen, I wanted to see a jet take off from the flight deck. My uncle explained everything in great detail — what it’s like to live on a ship and what life on the flight deck was like. It was in that moment I made the decision right then and there — I was going to join the Navy.”

Crossley joined the Navy July 27, 2000, after graduating from Charlotte Amalie High School. During the summers he held a part-time job working on car engines. When he signed up his only request was to be assigned to a rate that would allow him to get his hands dirty and work on engines. Little did he know he would also have the opportunity to work on a flight deck, an environment he had been eager to learn about for a long time.

“I didn’t know what ‘Aviation Support Equipment Technician’ meant at the time, but I felt proud just to have a title and to join the Navy,” said Crossley. “My first duty station was aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and I was ecstatic to work on the flight deck. I advanced to third class and it was the start of my career. I knew the sky was the limit and I wanted to keep going.”

Crossley never anticipated the Navy giving him something he would cherish for the rest of his life — a best friend who shared his dreams of making the Navy a career and taking advantage of the opportunities of exploring the world together. The two met at the Wind and Sea Recreation center at Naval Station Norfolk. David and Tiffiny Crossley married on May 21, 2004.

“I was with my friends and she was with her friends and we decided to join in and play a few rounds of Spades,” said Crossley. “Norfolk was her first duty station and she was a logistics specialist assigned to [USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76)]. During the card game we learned a lot about each other and had many things in common.”

The two carried out the rest of their sea duty before Crossley transferred to Oceana and his wife transferred to the Washington, the same ship which inspired him as a child. Both Sailors continued to advance in their careers over the next several years before bringing their first child, Simone Crossley, into the world January, 2011. They hope to get stationed overseas to give their daughter a chance to see the world.

“My wife and I want to retire from the Navy some day but we will be taking slightly different paths. She is currently going through the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program and has a dream to become a commissioned officer,” said Crossley. “I want to stay enlisted and hopefully this year I will make chief.”

Crossley is the leading petty officer of the IM-4 division, overseeing 37 Sailors in the upkeep and maintenance of more than 1,478 pieces of aircraft support equipment to provide readiness support to the air wing.

“I love being an LPO because I am able to watch my Sailors grow and learn from each other,” said Crossley. “Everyone has different values, different ideas and a different sense of humor. What I love about the Navy is it has the ability to make Sailors from different backgrounds work together and get the job done.”

Part of this camaraderie has been a team that supports each other through challenging times. While Crossley was working out in the hangar bay, the announcement came over the One Main Circuit, April 29, that Truman was being extended for an additional 30 days.

“I immediately went to my shop to see if any of my Sailors were going to be affected by the news,” said Crossley. “To my surprise they almost seemed excited and I wanted to stay positive for them so I could set a good example. Their happiness fuels my happiness and they found a way to make the best of it. Although we are being extended, we’re out here doing a mission—as long as we know and understand that, I think we will all be fine.”

USS Harry S. Truman Deck Department in the Spotlight

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mason Gillan // Staff Writer

 

Since 1775, Sailors have always been a mainstay in the effort to project Naval power and maintain freedom of navigation and trade around the world. The Navy was originally made up of three rates that have lasted through centuries of change and innovation, one of those being the Boatswain’s Mate. Aboard aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) the Sailors of Deck department handle and upkeep the ship’s 100,000 tons of steel, showcasing the standard for what it means to be a Sailor.

“This is probably the most humbling experience I’ve had since I joined the Navy,” said Lt. Cmdr. Russell Goff, Deck department’s first lieutenant. “This team has truly embraced the Navy core values. The leaders who work beside me are of high moral character. They truly believe in molding and shaping a Sailor from the inside so our Sailors will learn what it means to be successful.”

U.S. Sailors have built a reputation upon the core values: honor, courage, and commitment. However, that proud heritage wasn’t built overnight. It has taken 240 years to reach this point.

“Our Sailors are known for their hard work and dedication, it’s been that way for hundreds of years,” said Senior Chief Boatswain’s Mate Louis Peters, Deck department’s departmental leading chief petty officer. “It is by no means easy to be a Boatswain’s Mate, but the Sailors of my department do a great job because they love what they do and I’m proud to be a part of this community.”

A chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link and Goff said he couldn’t be more proud of his fellow leaders who ensure that every Boatswain’s Mate is forged of the toughest mettle.

“It has been a real privilege to work with my officers and chiefs because of their leadership abilities,” said Goff. “They are extremely qualified, bad to the bone and the best Boatswain’s Mates in the fleet. I have never seen a more outstanding group of leaders in my whole 30 years of service.”

Joining the military is a big commitment with many responsibilities. For some Sailors it might even be their first job as an adult. That’s why it is important for the chain of command to establish a good foundation early in their Sailors’ career.

“We have the opportunity to be an extension to the parents of these 18 to 19 year olds who come out to the fleet,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Erik Allison. “When a parent sends their child into the Navy the expectation is that someone, somewhere, will guide these young men and women. That’s us. From the Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Classes up we develop leaders at a young age. There are 3rd Classes who are responsible for the safety and production of up to 15 Sailors. Our mindset, here, is that when we go pierside we will be the best looking ship in the fleet, it’s a pride our Sailors hold dear in all our evolutions.”

For some Sailors, deck department is a stepping-stone to their next job. Deck’s chain of command supports those Sailors who wish to strike into different ratings and offer skills that positively impact them for the rest of their military career.

 

Our unit cohesion and desire to fight through the challenge of starting our careers undesignated, or ‘from the bottom’ as some might say, is our responsibility,” said Lt. j.g. Kent Roseman. “We train every Sailor equally no matter what future a Sailor might desire. Even if a Sailor is going to leave the department for another rate, they still need a professional foundation to grow upon. No matter where you end up in the Navy you will never forget your time in Deck.”

 

Long days, hard work and black bitter coffee are things to expect while serving aboard an aircraft carrier. It’s not an easy life, but according to Chief Boatswain’s Mate Dena Reese, it’s the hard work from deployments that has brought Sailors together since the earliest days of the Navy.

 

“Deck department has always been a big family,” said Reese. “We work hard and we are professionals. When it is our time to shine we rock it. Being aboard this particular ship at this particular time especially takes it up a couple notches. We are on the front lines fighting the war on terror and not many people can say that. I’m really proud to be a part of this department.”

 

According to Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Jeffrey Ellis, there is a great sense of pride that comes with years of working with quality leadership.

 

“It has been an honor to serve in Deck department aboard Truman,” said Ellis. “Deck department has always been good to me. I love being a Boatswain’s Mate and if there’s one thing I know it’s the amount of respect going up and down our chain of command that makes the Deck department aboard Truman the best in the fleet.”