AT SEA, January23, 2014 (NNS) – The sound of gunfire echoed off the USS Theodore Roosevelt’s (CVN 71) fantail as empty shells clattered to the deck during a .50 caliber live-fire exercise, Jan. 17.
Twenty-five TR Sailors qualified to use the M2-HB Heavy Barrel Browning Machine Gun, the ship’s last line of defense when entering and exiting port.
“If you are an aviation ordnanceman, gunner’s mate, master-at-arms, or on a temporary assigned duty billet in Security, your qualifications needed leading up to that point differ,” said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Alicia Keene, Patrol Operations leading petty officer.
The M2HB Machine Gun is a high-rate-of-fire weapon that delivers 550 .50 caliber rounds per minute at a maximum range of more than 7,400 yards.
“These firearms are utilized when entering and exiting port. The Sailors manning these guns are the last line of defense for the ship and must be ready to respond to a sea or air threat.” said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Jason Miller.
Sailors learn about the internal components of the firearm, as well as how to clean and maintain it.
“This is a process that Sailors learn to ensure barrel pressure, cartridge seating and firing time is not out of operational limits,” said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Jonathan Whitson.
This operational training helps prevent catastrophic weapon failure, such as a misfire or battery detonation, which can injure the Sailor operating the weapon. A battery detonation occurs when the round is improperly seated within the firearm. When the pin strikes the round the explosion does not carry the round through the chamber, but explodes out the backside of the barrel instead.
“This is a dangerous incident,” said Whitson. “This is the reason we practice safety and learn everything before firing the weapon.”
Weapons familiarization is just the first step in the qualification process. Sailors must also become proficient in the “dry fire” process, which includes firing the weapon without the presence of ammunition.
“During this [dry fire], Sailors go step by step just as though they have live bullets,” said Keene. “They start with loading the ammo and end with making sure the firearm is clean and clear.”
In the last phase, Sailors mounted the firearm and fired short bursts to learn the firearms trigger response. The qualification course concluded after each Sailor fired 100 rounds.
Join the conversation with TR online at www.facebook.com/USSTheodoreRoosevelt and www.Twitter.com/TheRealCVN71. For more news from USS Theodore Roosevelt, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn71/.