USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) conducted a conventional ammunition on-load, April 9, in support of workups and training for an upcoming deployment. Ford successfully on-loaded approximately 541,000 pounds of ordnance using both connected transfers and vertical lifts from the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS William McLean (T-AKE 12). More than 400 Sailors from Ford’s weapons, deck and aircraft intermediate maintenance departments participated in the event, collecting more than 200 pallets from the flight deck and hangar bay then transporting them to multiple advanced weapons elevators to be stored in the ship’s magazines. The on-load started with Ford pulling alongside William McLean and shooting lines over to establish communications and connect distance lines. Once attached, MH-60S helicopters attached to the “Tridents” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 9, began to lift ammunition over to Ford’s flight deck and pallets of ammunition were transferred via connected replenishment. The ammunition from this on-load is essential for arming aircraft with live ordnance during carrier qualifications and carrier strike group integration. Onloading ammunition while underway is critical to Ford’s ability to supply the embarked air wing with ordnance needed to conduct its missions. This successful evolution will bring Ford one step closer to deployment readiness.
“We on-loaded both live and training ammunitions to help support Carrier Air Wing 8 and our security forces on board for this underway. Every carrier needs ammunition to complete the mission. There is nothing we can’t do when we have a fully loaded ship. I could not be prouder of our Sailors. The whole department doing what we were meant to do was the pinnacle of my time here. This on-load is a big piece of the puzzle for our ship to do what carriers were meant to do,” said Lt. Cmdr. Paul Castillo, from San Diego, Ford’s Ordnance Handling Officer.
“All weapons divisions were involved with the evolution and personnel worked from the magazines to the flight deck to ensure everything was safe and efficient. The whole evolution went smoothly. It was impressive to watch, and I am proud to be part of the team that made it happen. It feels good because we get to show what weapons department really does. We spent a lot of time and hard work to get to this point and it payed off. Getting the entire department together as a group was great, everybody was excited and ready to go. Everybody was in the right place at the right time, it was a small part of a bigger picture,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Joshua Hitcho, from New Zionsville, Pennsylvania, assigned to Ford’s weapons department.
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) is the lead ship of her class of United States Navy aircraft carriers. The ship is named after the 38th President of the United States, Gerald Ford, whose World War II naval service included combat duty aboard the light aircraft carrier Monterey in the Pacific Theater. Construction began on 11 August 2005, when Northrop Grumman held a ceremonial steel cut for a 15-ton plate that forms part of a side shell unit of the carrier. The keel of Gerald R. Ford was laid down on 13 November 2009. The Navy announced that the carrier will sail on her first deployment sometime during 2022. As of 2017, she is the world’s largest aircraft carrier, and the largest warship ever constructed in terms of displacement.