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Ohio sailors deployed to pick up Chinese Spy balloon now prepare for new mission

Paul Hast USS Carter Hall
USS Carter Hall
Posted at 5:58 PM, May 01, 2023

NORFOLK, Va. — Looking toward the horizon from the shore, a U.S. Navy ship can be seen bobbing in the crashing waves. It can’t come any closer to the sandy beach without damaging itself. That’s when the Navy’s powerful taxi system kicks in to get U.S. Marines and their gear to shore.

"It’s powered by four gas turbine engines," said Ryan Brailey, a senior chief petty officer with the Assault Craft Unit in Norfolk, Virginia. "It’s about 16,000 horsepower."

That power helps the Landing Craft Air Cushion or LCAC carry basically anything from the back of an amphibious ship to just about any shore on the planet.

"We’ll bring on Humvees, any equipment Marines need to get to the shore," Brailey said. "We’ll bring like construction equipment, bulldozers things like that and then a complement of troops."

Sailor Tristan Weaverling is an electronics technician second class and grew up in Wooster, Ohio. He now serves as the navigator on an LCAC. Weaverling comes from a long line of family members serving in the military and explains how the LCAC is able to fly across both land and sea when the turbine engines kick into high gear.

"When they’re running, they’re building all that air and when they open up, they will push the air down in the bag and it will inflate itself," he described. "We call it flying but a lot of people will push back for calling it flying."

The missions of the LCAC vary from a military focus to a humanitarian one and when they need to get from one country to the next ships like the USS Carter Hall can get them there.

"Of the three variants of amphibious warships this is your Swiss Army knife," explained Lieutenant Paul Hast. "We’ve got a 30-ton crane, we’ve got a 180-foot well deck and we have a series of capabilities and ways to launch boats."

Hast said the USS Carter Hall is 609 feet long and when on mission uses every inch of space above and below deck to supply the Marines with everything they would need for their mission.

Some of those missions are in hard-hit areas, not from military ammunition, but rather mother nature’s wrath from hurricanes to earthquakes like the devastating quakes that leveled Haiti.

"When you have young men and women that are sailors and Marines that get to get their hands dirty and helping other countries and other nations that are in need makes you feel really good and humble," Hast said, "that we’re able to lead and provide not only for our sailors and Marines but for the citizens around the world who are in need."

He estimated about 80% of the missions they’re deployed on are helping their fellow man in need.

"We’re constantly training — our ship motto is, 'Working for peace, ready for war,'" Hast said.

Most recently, the USS Carter Hall played a role in the recovery efforts of the Chinese Spy balloon. A silhouette of the balloon is painted in black on the side of the ship's 30-ton crane.

USS Carter Hall

"We have our own mark on the ship to kind of recognize the effort our sailors put into that operation," he said. "They were very proud that they got to be a part of it, and they wanted to put it on the side of our ship to tell the rest of our Navy peers what we’ve been involved in."

Petty Officer 3rd Class William Rosell of Miamisburg, Ohio is an informations systems technician on the USS Carter Hall.

"Inspired by grandfather’s service in the Army, family service in the Army," he said.

Rosell's role on the ship is what allows the sailors on board to be able to complete the mission.

"Communications wise making sure we can communicate with the ships and they can communicate with us," Rosell explained.

Over the past several months The USS Carter Hall has been going out to sea and repetitiously training their loading and unloading skills to fine-tune the crew's capabilities to be ready when the call comes.

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