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Reactor Department honored by admiral

USS JOHN C. STENNIS, San Diego-- Sailors in nuclear fields in the United States Navy do most of their work under the cover of security classifications; however, outstanding work, classified or not, does not go unnoticed in the Navy.

Sailors from the reactor department of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) had their hard work celebrated when Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, Vice Adm. Samuel J. Locklear personally came on board Stennis to give many of them awards Monday.

“Stennis is riding high! You all have done a great job,” said Vice Adm. Samuel J. Locklear, III, commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet. “The country needs you to do this. The country needs what you do. I couldn’t be prouder of you.”

The remarkable work of Stennis’ reactor department occurred when the ship entered a regular maintenance phase called a docking-planned incremental availability (dPIA). During dPIA. One month prior to the actual start of the availability and less than one week after returning to home port from a seven-and-a-half month deployment, an unplanned material problem was discovered. It added a significant amount of repair work to the availability. As a result, reactor department’s workload increased by more than 20 percent; taking it from 62,000 to 77,000 man-days of work. The manpower to do the work and the six-month deadline remained the same.

“From the reactor officer on down, there was always a positive mentality,” said Lt. Michael Webb, reactor controls technical assistant. “The sailors saw a huge mountain to climb. Their positive attitude is a reflection of our leadership, and also our enlisted sailors’ level of understanding of the importance of the mission.”

The reactor department sailors’ attitudes and focus not only drove them to complete the enormous maintenance package, but they did it in an unprecedented manner. They finished two day ahead of schedule and under budget.

“We did 40 percent of the ship’s workload with 20 percent of the manning,” said Chief Machinist’s Mate (Surface Warfare) James E. Trogden III, reactor mechanical two plant leading chief petty officer. “You can’t really understand the sacrifices my sailors made unless you’ve been down [in the reactor spaces], and most people can’t go down there.”

Sacrifice and effective and innovative use of technology is what enabled the department to do more with less. Their application of the fleet interactive display equipment (FIDE) propelled them to the front of the fleet again; making Stennis the first CVN to maintain proficiency for six enclosed operating space (EOS) watch teams during a maintenance availability.

“The men and women of Reactor Department worked extremely hard to successfully execute a challenging and dynamic shipyard availability,” said Capt. Dave Sheridan, Stennis Reactor Officer. “When the going got tough, the departmental leadership pulled the sailors together to get the job done. My folks can be very proud of what they have accomplished. I am honored to serve with these fine Americans.”

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