SEAL BEACH, Calif. (August 11, 2017) – Sailors assigned to amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25) completed the ship’s first-ever ammunition offload August 11.
The ship offloaded more than 1.5 million individual pieces of ammunition during the four-day evolution, which took place at Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, preparing the ship for its upcoming maintenance availability.
“The ship will be going to a shipyard for major maintenance work,” said Fire Controlman 1st Class Colby Hall, the Ordnance Information System administrator onboard Somerset. “Because of all the work that will be done, including major maintenance on our automatic magazine sprinklers, we can’t have ammunition in those spaces.”
During the course of the evolution, Sailors worked around-the-clock to inventory, sort, and safely offload the ammunition Somerset carried on its recent deployment, which they returned from earlier this summer.
“We carry ammunition not just for ourselves and self-protection, but for the landing force troops and the air detachment that ride with us,” said Hall. “The landing force has [Explosive Ordnance & Demolitions] technicians on board, so we carry their demolition charges. We carry artillery for the landing force, tank munitions, and different kinds of grenade rounds and missiles. Anything they need, we have it.”
The top priority during the offload was the safety of the ship, crew, and contractors that help to transport the ammunition after it leaves Somerset.
“We were aiming for three and a half days, [but] we gave ourselves a cushion in order to maintain safety,” said Hall. “Anybody at any time who is handling ammunition has the inherent right to safety and can call for a halt of all movements of ammunition. If that happens, the only ones who can authorize us to continue are the Commanding Officer and the Safety Officer of the pier together.”
After successful completion of the evolution, Somerset returned to its homeport, Naval Base San Diego, to start preparations for its upcoming maintenance phase.