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USS Iwo Jima Tackles Well Deck Certification

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050503-15
Release Date: 5/3/2005 7:43:00 PM

By Photographer's Mate 3rd Class (SW/AW) Amanda Bruechert, USS Iwo Jima Public Affairs

ABOARD USS IWO JIMA (NNS) -- USS Iwo Jima's (LHD 7) well deck is open for business since passing a painstaking certification at sea in April.

During two days of Iwo’s underway period, members of Afloat Training Group (ATG) Atlantic were aboard the multipurpose, amphibious assault ship to take a long, thorough look at how LHD 7 conducts safe well deck operations.

“We’ve trained hard for this day,” explained Lt. Zeverick Butts, Iwo's First Lieutenant. “We worked long hours, reviewed procedures and safety controls. A high level of professionalism has been present at all times.”

“I had every confidence we would excel,” he added. “Every task we’ve ever been faced with as a department we’ve excelled at, because we have outstanding teamwork and communication.”

Well deck certification is an annual qualification required to ensure the ship is in a readiness capability to perform the mission it was designed to carry out. That mission is to transport Marines via Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) and Landing Craft, Utility (LCU).

There are two different phases to the certification. The first is the administration phase, which must be passed before continuing on to the second phase. During this phase, publications, to include the Wet Well Operations and Procedures Check List, were verified and the Personnel Qualification Standards program was inspected.

During Phase II, the ship tackled some real-time operations, with ATG evaluating various tasks using the LCACs and LCUs.

“As an outsider looking in, I saw that we were set up for success. We trained tirelessly, and all the Sailors involved had a chance to see each of the events more than once. They knew how to take direction well, and the petty officers really looked after them,” said Lt. Patricia Witherspoon, Iwo’s incoming First Lieutenant. “I wasn’t worried about them getting hurt by the evolutions, because I knew safety was the first thing on everyone’s mind.”

Preparations for the certification began more than six months ago.

“Navy Board of Inspection and Survey helped immensely in preparing the department, because it forced us to break out all of our equipment and test it, so we knew what was and wasn’t operable prior to the certification,” Butts said.

With many new faces to the department, training was crucial prior to the certification.

“It’s been challenging, but fun to see the excitement of the new seamen as they come aboard and see what it is that we do as an amphibious assault ship, and what role it is that Deck Department plays during amphibious operations,” said Butts.

Looking down the road long-term, Witherspoon says it is her first goal to ensure the department is deployment-ready without losing the well deck certification mentality they are currently holding and have been living up to for the past three years.

“I know I will continue to hear great things with the department’s personnel long after I have gone, because there is a lot of talent on the deckplates and I know they will continue to get better and better," Butts stated.



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