Previous Post
Next Post

Story Number: NNS121028-01Release Date: 10/28/2012 11:17:00 by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian G. Reynolds, Enterprise Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs

USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) — USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Weapons Department completed the historic carrier’s final ammunition offload Oct. 24-26. During the offload, 3,348,000 pounds of ordnance and ammunition were transferred from Enterprise to Military Sealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ships USNS Matthew Perry (T-AKE 9) and USNS Sacagawea (T-AKE 2). Because Enterprise is scheduled to be inactivated later this year, all ammunition and ordnance – other than small arms used for security purposes – had to be transferred off of the ship . . .

“The planning was a major challenge,” said Lt. Cmdr. Thomas L. Hinnant, the ordnance handling officer aboard Enterprise. “We have been talking to the Sacagawea for about a year. There are so many entities involved in an evolution of this size that it takes a lot of coordination.”

“The evolution was extremely difficult because we faced so many challenges planning for such an event,” said Senior Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Steven J. Black, the leading chief petty officer of Enterprise’s aviation ordnance control center. “As in any situation, plans change and the Weapons department had to be flexible and adapt to whatever changes were thrown at us. Once we finally got the go ahead, we were ready and our people pulled it off flawlessly.”

The process of dismantling over 1,600 tons of ordnance was undoubtedly a daunting one. The process began one month ago, shortly after Enterprise flew its final sortie in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Soon thereafter, the ship’s Weapons department began dismantling and repacking all of the ship’s ordnance. Once the ammunition was dismantled and repacked, Sailors in the Weapons department began staging the ordnance so that it would be ready to be removed from the ship.

“This was a big undertaking,” said Hinnant. “The staging process on this ship is more challenging than any other ship in the Navy.”

After the ordnance was staged in Enterprise’s hangar bay and on the flight deck, a task accomplished with the help of the “Big E’s” Air department, the Weapons department relied on the Dragonslayers of Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron (HS) 11 to transport much of the ordnance from Enterprise to Sacagawea via vertical replenishment.

“Our job was to assist Enterprise and Sacagawea with the vertical replenishment,” said Lt. Marcus A. Torres, a pilot with HS-11 who assisted with the vertical replenishment. “Our main focus was to effectively [and safely] assist both ships with the ammo offload to help facilitate an expeditious return home.

However, what may sound like a routine vertical replenishment was no easy task. Enterprise, Sacagawea and HS-11 faced rough seas and inauspicious weather conditions, which played a major role in making this vertical replenishment more difficult than it may have been under normal conditions.

“This was definitely one of the more challenging vertical replenishments,” said Torres, “especially when you take into account the sea state and the wind conditions, but we pulled it off without any major issues.”

During the offload, the Weapons department also worked closely with Enterprise’s Deck department to successfully transport the ammunition that was staged in the hangar bay.

“The main priority of the Deck department was to move the barrels of ammunition from the hangar bay to the Sacagawea using the sliding pad-eye from stations 5 and 13,” said Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Timothy W. Lumpkin, the leading petty officer of Deck department’s 2nd division.

Much like HS-11, the Sailors of the Deck department faced the challenges of the elements.

“The heavy seas and high winds were definitely a challenge for us,” said Lumpkin. “The heavy seas caused the ships to surge – causing the ships to come closer together, rather than further apart – while we were moving ammo. After doing this for three days, fatigue was also an issue. But we weathered the storm and completed the job as we always do.”

After nearly three days of intense coordination and hard work of Enterprise’s entire crew, all of “Big E’s” ammunition and ordnance was successfully removed from the ship without any major issues. During the evolution, the crew conducted 314 connected replenishment lifts and 946 vertical replenishment lifts, for a total of 1,260 lifts.

While the Big E may have offloaded the last piece of ordnance it will ever hold in its weapons magazines, the ammunition will be used elsewhere.

“All of the ordnance had to be offloaded as part of our [inactivation] process,” said Black. “But, the assets will be distributed as needed throughout the Fleet to support the Navy’s mission.”

As the ship finishes the last leg of its 25th and final deployment, the Weapons department aboard Enterprise can breathe a brief sigh of relief knowing that such a massive undertaking is behind them.

“I could not have asked for a better group of people to have the privilege of being their ordnance handling officer,” said Hinnant. “They have done an amazing job the last three years of keeping us above board on all ordnance matters.”

Many of the Sailors who make up the ranks of the ship’s Weapons department used the evolution as an opportunity to show that hard work is what they do best.

“It is a great feeling to be a part of such a great team,” said Black. “There were many times throughout the offload when I would look around and see junior Sailors pulling double shifts, working the extra hours, doing whatever was necessary to get this job done. These guys knew it was their time to shine; they rose to the occasion and knocked it out of the park.”

After completing its final deployment, Enterprise is scheduled to be inactivated Dec. 1, in a ceremony to be held at Naval Station Norfolk, bringing to a close more than 51 years of distinguished service. The inactivation ceremony will be the last official public event for the ship and will serve as a celebration of life for the ship and the more than 100,000 Sailors who have served aboard.

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. Deactivation.. huh… More like forced retirement lol
    One question I have is there a new carrier in the build process? We don’t have that many and as a strategic asset loosing one is a huge deal. Our carriers are one of our best assets to put people and air power anywhere quickly. Given the shift to a rapid deployment force over the last decade or so, it is not something to be taken lightly for sure.
    And if they name the new one the USS Obama I will personally toss myself in it’s screws!!!!! 😉

    • CVN-78, the USS Gerald Ford is about 75% complete, and the keel for CVN-79, the USS John F. Kennedy is being laid down right now. The Navy maintains 11 CVNs as part of a strategic requirement, but there’s talk of dropping that to 10.

      Hopefully CVN-80 will be the next Big E. We need to get back to Ships that have names with some tradition behind them, and less politics.

      • Agreed. Enterprise, Intrepid, Constellation…America, Yorktown, Kitty Hawk, Ranger, Independence, Hornet,, would all be great carrier names (and have been used before). Tired of the carriers named after politicians.

        • There should be a standing order in the Navy, to keep the names of the carriers that held the line in the early days of the Pacific in service. We should never be without a Yorktown, Lexington, Enterprise, and Hornet.

          Those ships, and the men who served on them, saved the world as much as those who flew Spitfires and Hurricanes half a world away, in the darkest days of the war. How many young men and women today have no idea what these names mean? They should never be forgotten.

    • There are currently 11 active carriers. The Enterprise is one of those, and the only one in its class. The other 10 are Nimitz-class: Nimitz, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Carl Vinson, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, John C. Stennis, Harry S. Truman, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush.

      There are three Gerald R. Ford-class carriers under construction or planned. The Gerald R. Ford, keel laid & scheduled for commissioning in 2015; the John F. Kennedy in preconstruction & scheduled for commissioning in ~2020; and the planned but as-yet-unnamed third ship in the class, scheduled for ~2025.

  2. Sniff…Big E is deactivated, my first ship. It was just 20 years ago she went in dry dock to be refueled! Loved the air side’s callsign: “Climax”.

  3. The fleet of inactivated carriers (Independence, Kitty Hawk, Ranger, and Constellation) in Bremerton Washington is a pretty impactful sights…sad to see them sitting and waiting for the scrapyard (or if they are lucky, the museum pier).

      • No kidding? That’s cool. I have to admit they are fun to drive by on the way out to the Olympic Peninsula and think about all the amazing things they have seen and been through. Thanks for your service.

  4. Since nobody else has mentioned it, I will: those helo pilots must need custom seats to accomodate their giant brass cojones. 3.3M pounds of munitions, much of it of the highly-explody variety, in rough seas over a 3+ day marathon? Everyone involved should be recognized as a shining example of putting the mission ahead of their personal convenience.

    • +1. No matter your thoughts on how the politicians use the military the individual GI deserves a nod for doing difficult duty and doing it well.

    • Yea they do!! Have been in a Blackhawk more than once during a deck landing.
      It takes one hell of a pilot to pull that off with 14 or 15 S.O.B’s!!
      My secondary MOS was 67 Tango Blackhawk Crewchief/Repairman so got the chance to learn the basics of take off/ landing and hovering in case of emergency!! Was tough as hell.
      My hat is off to them one and all for bringing us home safe and sound more than once.

    • The supply ships can keep that ammunition and supplies in theatre and use it to resupply the E’s relief, rather than taking it all the way home and then bringing it all the way back to the desert.

  5. I had the honor of service aboard the Big – E from 1989 – 1991. Sailed around the world on her and saw the start of desert Storm. GREAT ship with an even better crew. CVN-65 was the first Nuclear Aircraft Carrier; the CVN designation didn’t even exist when she was christened.

    The Enterprise always had a reputation of being the best and we did our part to keep that tradition alive and well, we kicked ass in competition with the other carriers. We always joked about someday shaving with metal from the ship when she decommissioned, I guess the Big – E is razorblades bound soon. God Bless her and all the Crew that sailed on her!!!

    I actually still miss the sliders and fries they served in the forward mess during deployments, and the cinnamon rolls!!!

  6. I remain troubled that only one shipyard in America is capable of building an aircraft carrier, and that it takes so long to build one. It is not impossible for us to lose a few in the right kind of conflict. Back in WWII they were cranking them out rather quickly. In fact, the escort carriers like the Gambier Bay were coming into service monthly. Of course we are the only country left in the world that has such a fleet of carriers.

    • Newport News Shipbuilding is, as you allude to, currently the only shipyard in the world capable of building nuclear powered aircraft carriers. The nuclear propulsion plant installed in modern carriers requires a lot of specialized knowledge, personnel and manufacturing capabilities that the old oil-fired carriers didn’t require. Plus, the new Ford-class carriers will use electromagnetic catapults, replacing the steam powered cats of previous carriers. This also requires very specialized knowledge and engineering expertise.

      The cost to replicate all of this at a second or third shipyard would be astronomical, and you’d have a hard time finding enough nuke-experienced skilled labor — engineers, welders, pipe fitters, electricians, etc. Plus, NNS is capable of constructing two carriers at the same time, if the need arose to do so. At the rate we buy new carriers — one or two every 10 years or so — unless NNS were taken out by some enemy missile attack (to which other shipyards would presumably be vulnerable, as well), a second carrier construction shipyard isn’t really needed.

      Carriers today are designed and engineered on computers, and built in modules, where whole sections of the ship called “super lifts” are built separately then lifted/moved by ginormous cranes into position and welded into place. Eventually, a whole aircraft carrier emerges.

      It’s quite a undertaking to produce, let alone sustain, a fleet of 11 such ships, and all the aircraft, training and ancillary support and logistics that back up the carrier fleet. It’s an endeavor that can only be afforded and achieved over decades by an advanced superpower like the US.

      • I used to drive right by NNS on a regular basis. I have friends that work there, from bottom up. It definitely is amazing what they do there.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here