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NEWS | Sept. 2, 2014

"Iron Nickel" Full-Up, Round Ready

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ryan J. Batchelder USS Peleliu Public Affairs

The amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5), in coordination with Naval Munitions Command Detachment Sasebo, conducted a three-day ammunition onload while anchored near Command Fleet Activities Sasebo, Aug. 27-29.

While anchored, Peleliu safely took on more than 1,200 pallets of conventional ordnance in support of its mission with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), based in Okinawa, Japan.

"Safety is foremost," said Senior Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Joe Skelton of Peleliu's Weapons Department. "It is very important that we stressed to everyone involved that we are not in a rush. We conducted several safety briefs, checklists and [safety checks] on equipment to make sure we were operating at the safest level possible."

In keeping with Peleliu's excellent safety record, Skelton pointed out what it takes to conduct such a large evolution, both, efficiently and safely.

"Quality Assurance Safety Observers (QASO) were present at every movement point, whether it was below decks in the cargo holds or in the hangar and vehicle decks, ensuring everyone is following safety precautions," said Skelton. "If there was not a QASO present, ammunition did not move, period."

Once the ammunition was onboard, aviation ordnancemen assigned to Peleliu were tasked with the staging, handling and stowage of more than 900 tons of ordnance.

"To complete a task of this magnitude is really rewarding," said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Brian Hopkins. "When ammunition onloads happen, all of our hard work, dedication and preparation really show. Knowing we played a vital role in the safe and expeditious onload of ordnance in direct support of our mission and getting Peleliu ready to do what we do, is an accomplishment that we will never forget."

The teamwork and coordination between Peleliu's many departments over the course of three days resulted in a successful and safe evolution that moved more than 1.8 million pounds of ordnance to support sustained operations during Peleliu's deployment.

"Our motivation, dedication and attention to detail were proven during the grueling three days of Peleliu's ammunition onload," said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Darien Phelps. "Everyone played a vital role in the completion of our mishap-free evolution. We truly watched one another's backs, kept one another motivated and ensured we all finished as a team."

Skelton stressed the importance of effective communication and planning between all of Peleliu's departments and divisions.

"All of the ship's departments played a role in one form or another," said Skelton. "Peleliu came through and worked together like a 'well-oiled machine'."

Peleliu is on its final regularly scheduled Western Pacific deployment in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region before decommissioning early next year.

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