Sailors from USS John C. Stennis’ Strike Group (CVN 74) completed their Force Protection Exercise (FPEX) while in port in San Diego, Sept. 20.
The exercise was designed to test the ship’s security and was one of the final tests before Stennis is declared ready for deployment.
“FPEX is an essential milestone in the preparation for our upcoming deployment,” said Capt. Brad E. Johanson, Stennis’ commanding officer.
Stennis blew through the exercise, once again scoring among the top of all aircraft carriers in the fleet.
“It was the best score they’d seen in [more than] two years,” said Lt. Brett Gunderson, Stennis’ security officer, referring to the Force Protection Certification Team.
Used to measure how well an aircraft carrier can protect itself, FPEX measured Stennis’ ability to handle events such as bomb threats, boat attacks, chemical, biological and radioactive attacks, spies and operational security (OPSEC). The tactics Stennis were evaluated on will become critical when the ship is abroad during its upcoming deployment.
One scenario included an explosion on the pier next to the ship. After the explosion, there were several victims who needed medical attention. The victims included two actual amputees who smeared fake blood on themselves to make the exercise seem more real.
“We heard the explosion and starting running toward the people,” said Operation’s Specialist 2nd Class William Alleman from the security department. “When we saw the amputees, it made [the scenario] seem so real, I forgot we were doing a drill.”
The amputees were actually wounded during Operation Enduring Freedom while serving in the U.S. Army, and volunteered their time for the exercise.
Though FPEX is geared to test Stennis’ security, it was an all-hands exercise that included substantial efforts from engineering, supply, reactor, air, operations, combat systems, weapons and deck departments.
“There is no way we would have been this successful without the combined efforts of all the departments onboard Stennis,” said Gunderson
Thirty-five force protection officers watched overall facets of the exercise that led Stennis through another successful test.
This successful evaluation continues to demonstrate Stennis’ readiness as the crew prepares for deployment. The ship is currently underway off the coast of Southern California conducting operations with its entire strike group for the first time in nearly two years.
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (AW) Ron Reeves, USS John C. Stennis Public Affairs