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Stennis' Cat 1 Launches 50,000th Aircraft

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS080612-12
Release Date: 6/12/2008 2:54:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Elliott J. Fabrizio, USS John C. Stennis Public Affairs

USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At Sea (NNS) -- The crew of Stennis launched their 50,000th aircraft off catapult, June 8.

"Reaching this milestone represents all of the hard work we put in manning up and maintaining these catapults," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate Equipment 1st Class Richard Dawson, bow catapult leading petty officer.

In recognizing their 50,000th launch, the Sailors from the bow catapult shop celebrated their hard work.

"There was a celebration right after the 50,000th shot," said Assistant Catapult Captain, Aviation Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Christopher Henry. "Everyone was yelling, screaming and jumping around. It just feels good to be a part of this, knowing that 50,000 aircraft have launched from this catapult."

The launch and arresting gear division gathered every Sailor involved in launching aircraft from the bow catapults for a cake and ice cream party, formally celebrating their accomplishment.

"I couldn't be more satisfied with their accomplishment and my ability to be a part of it," said Flight Deck Division Officer Lt. Jason Wells, the "shooter" who launched the 50,000th catapult shot. "It shows their ability to maintain gear that's obviously been through a lot. This gear is 14 years old and they still make it work to perfection."

During each catapult launch, a variety of people must work together to ensure pilots can safely takeoff from the flight deck.

Below deck, panel operators verify the catapult's systems are functioning correctly. Above deck, topside personnel attach the aircraft to the catapult's launching shuttle, while safety observers watch for errors. A shooter then verifies everything is ready and signals the deck-edge operator to launch the aircraft.

"Everybody has to do their part perfectly, all day, to ensure each catapult can launch safely," said Safety Observer Aviation Boatswain's Mate Equipment 2nd Class Arras Saul. "We can work anywhere from 16 to 20 hours, and then we still have to do maintenance."

Each catapult requires daily maintenance, and Sailors from the launch and arresting division work around the clock to ensure that their catapults are operational.
"We have 50 required checks each week, and that doesn't include corrective maintenance," said Dawson. "We have a least 30 man-hours of work per person spent running maintenance."

By keeping their equipment running effectively through continual use, Stennis Sailors are ensuring their ship maintains operational readiness so it can fulfill the needs of America's Maritime Strategy.

For more news from USS John C. Stennis, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn74/.

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