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Carter Hall Navigation Department Maintains Steady Course

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS110223-05

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kristin L. Grover, Commander, Amphibious Squadron 4 Public Affairs

USS CARTER HALL, At Sea (NNS) -- The USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) Navigation Department continued to safely guide the amphibious dock landing ship on a true course during its current deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR), Feb. 14.

"Our team is essential in ensuring that Carter Hall remains out of harm's way as we continue on with our deployment," said Lt. j.g. Daniel Arevalo, USS Carter Hall navigation officer. "There are many small and meticulous calculations to determine the correct time, speed and direction of the ship at all times."

Arevalo is supported by six quartermasters who assist by tracking the ship safely along its course and recommending changes to maintain that course. They monitor tides, keep track of sunrise and sunset times, conduct weather observations and determine the ship's position by visual and electronic means.

In special evolutions, when the ship is close to land or in an area where navigable waters are limited, the team relays visual bearings of navigational aids to the bridge, which allows them to determine the ship's precise position in the water and accurately plot that position on the chart, known as a fix.

During normal evolutions, quartermasters plot fixes on the ship's charts using latitude and longitude coordinates acquired from a Global Positioning System (GPS).

"There are many different types of charts that we use depending on where we are in the world," said Quartermaster 1st Class Angela Everett. "We also keep 'ready charts' prepared in the event we need to change the ship's course on short notice. By properly laying out courses and charts in advance, we maintain a state of readiness no matter where we are tasked to travel."

In addition to their charts and GPS units, quartermasters use navigation equipment, such as magnetic and gyroscopic compasses, and parallel motion protractors to find and plot the ship's position. In addition to operating these tools, the navigation team performs daily maintenance checks of the equipment to ensure they are in good working order.

"The equipment we use on the ship is extremely helpful, but if it were to go out, we need to know how to navigate manually," said Quartermaster Seaman Sholonda Boynes. "We have to be able to read charts, monitor the weather conditions and use celestial bodies to guide us. I like doing a job that makes me think and serves a purpose at the same time."

Carter Hall is part of the USS Kearsarge (LHD 3)Amphibious Ready Group, operating as a theater reserve force for U.S. Central Command and reports to Expeditionary Strike Group 5, which is responsible for all amphibious forces deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR.

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