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Nimitz Safely Transfers 11 Million Gallons

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070828-07
Release Date: 8/28/2007 1:07:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dustin Q. Diaz, USS Nimitz Public Affairs

USS NIMITZ, At Sea (NNS) -- The “Grapes” of USS Nimitz’ (CVN 68) Air Department, V-4 division, celebrated Aug. 19 the mishap-free transfer of more than 11 million gallons of jet fuel.

Since leaving San Diego on a regularly-scheduled six-month deployment April 2, the purple-clad aviation boatswain’s mates displayed skill, consistency and professionalism by safely receiving and issuing millions of JP-5 during the deployment.

They celebrated the milestone achievement with a cake-cutting ceremony in a training classroom. Lt. Jody Smotherman, V-4 division officer, said the operational tempo of Nimitz postponed the occasion, which is usually observed at 10 million gallons, but also made it more impressive.

“We were going to do this before Valiant Shield,” Smotherman said, “and since we didn’t, we were able to rack up almost 2 million more gallons.”

Nimitz recently participated in Exercise Valiant Shield 2007, a three-carrier exercise in the vicinity of Guam, with the John C. Stennis and the Kitty Hawk Strike Groups.

Valiant Shield was a joint U.S. exercise with a focus on integrated joint training among U.S. military forces. This training enabled real-world proficiency in sustaining joint forces and in detecting, locating, tracking and engaging units at sea, in the air, on land and in cyberspace in response to range of mission areas.

As of Aug. 19, the Sailors of V-4 have safely issued 11,337,104 gallons, received 9,534,095 gallons and executed 9,028 total fueling evolutions. Their work allowed Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11’s pilots to fly more than 6,378 sorties, including missions in support of Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF), Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Valiant Shield.

Smotherman said the Sailors of V-4 are impressively versatile, especially when compared with other fuel aviation boatswain’s mates throughout the fleet.

“The guys that get seen the most are the ones that work on the flight deck, and of course, without their work the aircraft would never get in the air. But this is a division of 125 Sailors all working hard, whether you can see it or not,” said Smotherman.

“They move fuel around the ship throughout the day to help control the list. And we don’t waste any fuel. Once it’s used, we purify it and use it again. On many ships, the engineers do that stuff, but not here. We’ve also issued fuel to small boys. All carriers are capable of doing that; many of them don’t. And these guys do it,” added Smotherman.

Nimitz Commanding Officer, Capt. Michael Manazir was also on hand and wore a purple jersey to honor the "Grapes" on this occasion. He said it wasn’t just the amount of safely issued and received fuel that he found impressive, but the dedication and attitude of the Sailors who do it day in and day out.

“They’re motivated, professional and they keep smiling,” Manazir said. “Hauling those dirty black hoses around the flight deck is a tough job. It’s loud, it’s hot, planes are being taxied; it’s never-ending stress. But none of their operations have had any troubles. I wouldn’t miss being here to support these guys for anything.”

The youngest "Grape" on board Nimitz received the honor of cutting the celebratory cake. Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) Airman Apprentice Jessica Dorsett, 19, who is in training to work on the flight deck, said she was nervous about being chosen to represent her division, but she is excited to be in V-4 doing their important work.

“I like working on the flight deck,” said Dorsett, who checked on board Nimitz Aug. 9. “It’s kind of scary, but it’s exciting at the same time. I’m definitely looking forward to doing this on future deployments!”

While the "Grapes" enjoyed cake and ice cream, Manazir pinned new enlisted surface warfare specialist pins on Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuels) 2nd Class (AW/SW) Ruth Chavez, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuels) 2nd Class (AW/SW) Alejandro Aceves and Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuels) 3rd Class (AW/SW) Krista Trahern.

Nimitz left its homeport of San Diego, April 2 for a regularly scheduled deployment and arrived in the U.S. 5th Fleet (C5F) area of operations in May. While operating in C5F, CVW-11 flew more than 2,600 sorties and 7,332 hours in support of ground forces participating in OEF in Afghanistan and OIF in Iraq before leaving the Persian Gulf in late July.

Nimitz is now operating as a part of the U.S. 7th Fleet (C7F). Operating in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, C7F is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets covering 52 million square miles, with approximately 50 ships, 120 aircraft and more than 22,000 Sailors and Marines assigned at any given time.

CVW-11’s squadrons include “Tophatters” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 14, “Black Aces” of VFA-41, “Sunliners” of VFA-81, “Wallbangers” of Airborne Early Warning Squadron 117, “Red Devils” of Marine Corps Strike Fighter Squadron 232, “Black Ravens” of Electronic Warfare Squadron 135, “Providers” of Carrier Logistics Support Squadron 30 and the “Indians” of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 6.

Nimitz CSG also includes embarked Destroyer Squadron 23 with guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59), guided-missile destroyers USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53), USS Higgins (DDG 76), USS Chafee (DDG 90) and USS Pinckney (DDG 91) as well as the “Scorpions” of Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 49, “Easy Riders” of HSL-37 and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11, Det. 3.

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