USS Sterett (DDG 104) moores in Port Hueneme as the Ventura County hills endure rampant fires, Dec. 5. The destroyer visited Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division for a combat systems assessment and groom. (Photo by BM2 Mello)
PORT HUENEME, Calif. —
The men and women of Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC)—the county’s largest employer—remain a critical force behind America’s military despite enduring more than a week of troubling winds and rampant wild fires.
Amidst the flames, NBVC tenet command Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division (NSWC PHD) could not be deterred from its sense of purpose, serving a critical mission to help support the three million people—uniformed and civilian—who protect and defend this nation.
As the fleet’s combat systems in-service engineering agent, NSWC PHD provides unique value to the Navy by directly supporting the fleet with technical solutions and the right personnel who maintain operational readiness, enabling the fleet to successfully accomplish its mission.
Oftentimes, this is achieved through regular in-port visits from a variety of naval platforms—one of which made a port call Dec. 4 just as California’s Ojai Valley ignited, threatening the homes of nearly 200 NSWC PHD personnel.
Scheduled for a combat and weapon systems assessment, USS Sterett (DDG 104) arrived at NBVC Port Hueneme, where the NSWC PHD’s engineers, technicians, and product support specialists instinctively swarmed the ship with technical expertise. As the fire loomed in the background, quickly consuming more than 90,000 acres, the people of PHD pressed on, understanding the mission at hand.
“There is no secret that there has been a huge brush fire in the mountains of Ventura County,” said Ensign Alex Aseltine, USS Sterett public affairs officer. “We were honestly shocked to see how many people were able to support, getting what we needed for our Aegis combat systems and training for all our tactical action officers, combat information center watch officers, and anyone with tactical control of the ship as well. The support has been outstanding.”
During the assessment, sailors worked side-by-side with command subject matter experts who shed light on the inner workings of the weapons systems. This engagement also provided sailors with hands-on training of the equipment, preparing them for use while at sea. In addition, NSWC PHD product support specialists carefully evaluated and assessed maintenance assistance modules, technical publications, and test equipment data to ensure compliance with naval standards.
According to Aseltine, the training proved to be an essential service provided by NSWC PHD.
“I think training is the backbone of operational success,” he said. “NSWC PHD helped us to dive deep into our equipment to teach us what we don’t know. They also worked alongside our folks to prepare us for operational commitments, showing us how to use our systems as they are designed to be used.”
The ship's crew, along with command personnel, engaged in a variety of tests and exercises to ensure the destroyer’s weapons systems were properly installed, in working order, and safely operable. Despite adverse conditions affecting many of the workforce, the ship received a complete assessment, sending her off with a sense of renewal.
“From my captain and everyone onboard,” expressed Aseltine, “we would like to thank NSWC PHD for being very flexible with us, for allowing us to be here, and to get the training that we needed despite all the environmental impacts that this fire has had. We really appreciate the great turn out and the support that was shown.”
Proud of his team, NSWC PHD Commanding Officer, Capt. Ray Acevedo, expressed admiration for their unwavering spirit shown.
“The resilience and dedication of the people here at Port Hueneme is incredible,” he shared. “While many of us are displaced from our homes—myself included—the people of Port Hueneme continue to move forward in support of the greater cause. Even when folks had lost everything, even when others had no idea what, if anything, they would be coming home to—they put our fleet and our sailors first. I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this team.”