USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, successfully completed flight deck certification, Sept. 14, fulfilling an important milestone of getting the ship and its embarked airwing combat ready.
The Red Rippers of Fighter Attack Squadron (VFA) 11, Knighthawks of VFA 136, Checkmates of VFA 211, Screwtops of Carrier Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 123, and Dragonslayers of Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron (HS) 11 all took part in the certification, and were instrumental in the success and safety of the flight operations.
The flight deck certification consisted of 160 total carrier landings, during both the day and night. Certification drills included rigging the emergency barricade, flight deck firefighting and crash and salvage operations.
“We worked hard to make sure that all expectations were met,” said Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Frank E. Gardner, flight deck leading chief petty officer. “We out performed what was expected of us.”
This is a monumental achievement for Theodore Roosevelt since it is the first time it has landed aircraft on its deck in four years.
“It’s amazing to see so many Sailors who have never seen a deployment come together to accomplish this task,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 1st Class Terry Keyes. “It took a lot of work and long days to get things done and accomplished, but the end result was more than what we expected.”
Before the flight deck crew left the shipyard, they spent many hours training on all aspects of how the flight deck operates under all conditions.
“We spent long hours training our crew,” said Gardner. “We wanted to make sure that everything could go as smoothly as we could possibly make it.”
Time management and teamwork were both keys to the success of the flight deck certification process.
“We have to manage our time while on station,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 1st Class Raymond Gross, leading petty officer of fly two, a division of Air department. “We have to work with other sections of Air Department to be able to take breaks and get food because our job requires us to be on deck when jets are moving about.”
Keyes added that flexibility was also important in the event of last minute changes, such as catapult repairs or aircraft reorganization for launch.
“No matter how well we worked together, we had to remain flexible because anything could happen,” said Keyes. “Equipment may go down or a jet may need fuel, so we had to constantly make changes in a safe but efficient manner.”
The success of flight deck certification marks one step closer for Theodore Roosevelt to becoming, once again, a ready-for-tasking carrier.
Theodore Roosevelt will continue carrier qualifications during the current underway period.
Press Release, September 17, 2013