Posted by: arbeam | July 4, 2013

June 18: Navy League Tour of USS John C Stennis

USS John C Stennis in Drydock 6 PSNS.

USS John C Stennis in Drydock 6 PSNS.

The USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) recently returned from a long deployment and has by now entered the yard for a major overhaul.  But for a fortunate 26 members and guests of our council the Stennis graciously performed one more mission…a tour of the ship on June 18, 2013.

In preparation for the yard work the ship was already a major industrial work zone but we were carefully escorted around and through the work to the forecastle, navigation bridge and flight deck.  Along the way we were told what the numbers and letters marked on various bulkheads meant (how to find your way around) and we also visited the Senator Stennis museum aboard which includes a US flag which was flying over the Pentagon on 9-11-2001, as well as the original tile floor from the senator’s office.

The forecastle, we learned, is also used as the ceremonial quarterdeck for special ceremonies.  The anchor chains, which figure very prominently, are each 2500 feet in length but only one at a time is ever used.  Each link in the chain weighs 365 pounds.  Various calls on the boatwain’s pipe were demonstrated, a talent that clearly requires practice and experience.

Navy League Tour of USS John C Stennis  June 18, 2013

Navy League Tour of USS John C Stennis June 18, 2013

It was explained to us that the 4 ½ acre flight deck is considered sovereign US territory and that no permission from other countries is required for take offs or landings.  When planes are being launched the rudder is turned 1/3 to account for the angled deck and speed is set to achieve at least 20 and no more than 30 knots of wind.  The present steam catapult system is considered the most efficient method as of  now, but electronic technology is being developed for future use.  Up to 20 planes can be launched or recovered in 4 minutes, although neither is done at the same time.  When launched each plane goes from 0 to 180 knots in 2 seconds.

The ship has 4 propellers and 2 rudders and can be operated from a remote station below deck.  In fact use of this system is routinely practiced.  There are two hydraulic systems for each rudder as well as redundant electronics for navigation.  Although paper charts are still in existence and used at times more and more navigation is being done with electronics.  By 2016 it is expected that paper charts will be a thing for museums as they will no longer be used.

From the helm on the bridge there is a 518 yard blind spot over the bow which must be taken into account and, because of the offset position of the bridge and the angled deck a pole called the Belknap Pole is mounted on the edge of the flight deck to provide a straight ahead visual aiming point for the helmsman.

USS Ronald Reagan Departing PSNS

USS Ronald Reagan Belknap Pole

All good things must come to an end and so too did our tour.  Sincere thanks to the entire crew of the Stennis for their warm welcome.  And thanks, of course, to Byron Faber for his usual great work in arranging the tour.  We certainly look forward to more Stennis visits in the future. – Norman Marten

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