USS Nimitz cleared to deploy fighter jets again

An F/A -18F Super Hornet from the "Black Knights" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154 lands on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) while an EA-18G Growler from the "Gray Wolves" of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 142 stands by. Photo: US Navy
An F/A -18F Super Hornet from the “Black Knights” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154 lands on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) while an EA-18G Growler from the “Gray Wolves” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 142 stands by. Photo: US Navy

Aircraft can once again take off from the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) after the ship earned the flight deck certification while underway in the Pacific Ocean, October 20.

The certification proves Nimitz’s flight deck and the sailors who conduct flight operations are capable of safely launching and recovering aircraft.

Nimitz recently completed a 20-month extended planned incremental availability (EPIA). The certification is the carrier’s second major milestone on her way to a upcoming 2017 deployment.

The U.S. Navy said that in order to certify in flight operations, the Nimitz air department was required to catch 50 aircraft on the first day of flight operations, 70 the following day, and 40 by the end of the second night. Nimitz had 399 catches total by the fifth day.

“The credit is all on the junior sailors,” said Petty Officer 1st Class William Dail, the arresting gear work center’s leading petty officer. “Without them we would not be able to catch the aircraft.”

While in the yards, air department re-certified four aircraft elevators and overhauled much of the equipment that supports flight operations including the catapults, arresting gear, safety nets, and jet blast deflectors.

During the almost two years spent pierside, Nimitz gained many new sailors who had never seen or participated in flight operations.

“About 30-40 percent of the Sailors have never seen the flight deck doing flight operations,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Raul Ramos, air department’s leading chief petty officer.

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