AT SEA - The thought of bombs and guns brings a lot of
excitement and interest to the minds of many people.
Expertise in this field is critical to the U.S. Navy
accomplishing any mission it may be assigned. But what does
it take for a U.S. Navy vessel to equip itself with the
proper weapons and explosives for a deployment?
Weapons Department, or WEPS, Sailors aboard the
forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme
Richard (LHD 6) stay true to their name by knowing all
things weapons, inside and out. WEPS consists of two rates,
Gunner's Mate and Aviation Ordnanceman. Both rates have
worked together during the last several months to prepare
Bonhomme Richard for her 2015 spring patrol.
ready for a deployment is tough,” said Gunner's Mate 3rd
Class Jesse Hardee, assistant work-center supervisor for
WEPS' G-3 division. “We've been doing maintenance, preparing
gun mounts, participating in drills, exercises and
conducting training constantly in order to make our ship the
best, and most prepared, in the fleet.”
Some of the
most exciting things WEPS has to show is their strength and
skill. Some of the exercises and drills they perform display
the impressive fighting force Bonhomme Richard is capable of
being and the equipment they use displays the strength of
the U.S. Navy.
“One of my favorite drills is the
small craft action team, or SCAT, drill,” said Hardee. “It
prepares the ship for possible incoming attacks by multiple
WEPS Sailors man .50-caliber guns
mounted on the side of Bonhomme Richard during SCAT drills.
Each of these powerful weapons is designed to defend the
ship from large amounts of incoming small attack boats.
January 12, 2015 -
Gunners Mate 1st Class David Jacinto, from Compton, Calif., instructs Sailors on the proper operation of a .50-caliber machine gun aboard the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kevin V. Cunningham)
“Drills like these are why I love my job,” said Hardee.
“Every underway is exciting and working in weapons
department has given me some of the best experiences of my
life. As much fun as it is, I admit that there is great
responsibility in handling guns and weapons. All the
training and qualifications we go through to do our job
really has shown me how strong our ship can be when the time
The major evolution that comes with every
deployment for WEPS is the ammo onload. Each underway,
Bonhomme Richard must bring in all of the ammunition and
explosives for her mission.
“Coordinating the Weapons
department onload starts the moment the ordnance is
offloaded,” said Lt. Sheltric Peterson, Bonhomme Richard's
Weapons Department officer. “The entirety of the department
comes together and discusses lessons learned, safety
procedures and how we can be more efficient.”
equipment used for the onload is managed and maintained by
Weapons department and Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance
“We use explosive proof forklifts in the
hangar bay and inside the magazines we use a stand-up
electrical forklift,” said Peterson.
Weapons Support Equipment, or AWSE, is also used for
transporting ammunition from the magazines to the hangar bay
and flight deck for use.”
After planning everything
for the onload, WEPS prepares for the final steps and
“If needed, qualificationand
certification boards are conducted to make sure we have the
right personnel to safely conduct the evolution and also
qualify the newly assigned personnel,” said Peterson. “The
last step is to set a date for the operation and conduct the
After the onload, it's up to Bonhomme Richard's WEPS team
to monitor all of the ammunition and equipment at all times
to ensure every piece of equipment is ready for any mission
the ship may take on.
“To my Sailors, no task is too
big,” said Peterson. “If we have the resources to do the
job, my Sailors are more than willing to accept the
challenge. The Weapons department motto is ‘Attitude
Determines Altitude' and if you ask a Weapons Sailor where
they work, you will see what sets them above the rest.”
By U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christian M. Caldwell
USS Bonhomme Richard Public Affairs
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