BREMERTON, Wash. – Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) held a ceremony Dec. 9 in the hangar bay honoring the 18th anniversary of the ship’s commissioning.
Stennis’ commanding officer, Capt. Mike Wettlaufer, spoke to the crew about the ship’s history and shared his personal experience aboard Stennis throughout the years. “I was lucky enough to do the deck certification on the ship in early 1996 off the coast of Virginia,” said Wettlaufer, who also served as executive officer aboard Stennis from 2009-2011. “Today, we are serving aboard Stennis during its second ever Docking Planned Incremental Availability (DPIA), with the responsibility of getting her ready to return to the Fleet and continue the storied history of this great ship.”
Sailors who attended the ceremony commented on the historical significance of the event. “Knowing that I’m a part of this ship’s history is inspiring,” said Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Amber Deranek, from Paso Robles, Calif. “It’s humbling to think that this ship will keep going long after I leave.”
Stennis, named for Miss. Senator John Cornelius Stennis, was commissioned Dec. 9, 1995 at Naval Station Norfolk, in Norfolk, Va. Stennis, now homeported in Bremerton, Wash., was the first aircraft carrier to conduct a catapult launch of an FA-18E/F Super Hornet in January 1997, and was the first carrier to launch strikes against Al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Stennis is currently undergoing a DPIA maintenance period at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility.