SASEBO, Japan –
In the second part of our series, we turn our attention from the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) to the Sailors that are getting her ready to take to the seas. One of the first steps of that process is completed by a group of Sailors with a tremendous knowledge of the seas and all the accompanying obstacles that they present. Without this department, Bonhomme Richard would be an aimlessly floating vessel without any direction. The Sailors of the Navigation Department stand willing and ready to ensure Bonhomme Richard stays the course and navigates safely.
The Navigation Department consists of 15 Sailors that all work countless hours to ensure they do their part to get the ship underway. In the months and weeks leading up to a deployment, they are responsible for a variety of tasks including charting the ship’s course, ensuring that the Voyage Management System (VMS), Bonhomme Richard’s primary navigation radar, is up-to-date with the latest charts and a variety of tasks leading to Bonhomme Richard getting underway swiftly and safely.
“With everything that needs to get done in Navigation before the ship can get underway, it provides an enormous challenge for all of us,” said Quartermaster 3rd Class James Branighan, from Allen, Texas. “But, we take pride in attacking those challenges and making sure that Bonhomme Richard can go out and execute her mission.”
Charting the course and inputting information into VMS are only two of the tasks needed to be completed by Navigation to get Bonhomme Richard away from the pier. They are also responsible for ensuring all of the current publications, guidelines, charts and knowledge sources are on board and up to date. Adding in their equipment maintenance and upkeep responsibilities, and their inport watches, this crew of dedicated Sailors work more than 50 hours per week.
“We always need to be ready to get Bonhomme Richard underway at a moments notice,” said Quartermaster 2nd Class Bryan Payne, from Jacksonville, Fla. “So, we put in the hours and take the necessary steps to make sure that is possible. Staying one step ahead of the game and being completely prepared well ahead of time is something that we strive to achieve every day.”
Navigation Departments Sailors all echoed the sentiment that they are 100 percent ready to get the ship on the right course and she could leave tomorrow without missing a beat. The course is charted, the equipment is ready and Navigation’s Sailors are prepared to continue to steer the course.