U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) is cleared for flight operations after the ship and her carrier air wing completed the blue water certification as part of the composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX).
Blue water certification is one of the final qualifications a carrier and associated air wing must go through before being certified for deployment.
Earning this certification means that, from aviation maintenance to the launch and recovery process, Nimitz is capable of self-sustained flight operations, at sea. Without the qualification, the ship and air wing are required to operate within a 100-mile radius of a land-based air field in case of an emergency.
Nimitz was graded on several events, ranging from replacing arresting-gear wires, launching and recovering aircraft as quickly as possible, rigging up a mobile visual landing aid system, as well as the ability of the air wing to conduct in-air refueling before attempting a recovery on the flight deck.
“We had to be pretty precise and quick in launching the aircraft, recovering them, getting them out of the landing area, de-arming them and rotating to the next aircraft on time without any problems,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Michael Ingo. “It was a really smooth training cycle leading up to the qualification, and it was really satisfying to have been a part of the whole thing from start to finish.”
Nimitz has been working with some of the squadrons of CVW 11 since October of last year through sea trials, tailored ship’s training availability (TSTA) and final evaluation problem (FEP).
COMPTUEX, which tests a carrier strike group’s mission-readiness and ability to perform as an integrated unit through simulated real-world scenarios, is the first time Nimitz has operated with the full complement of CVW 11 in preparation for deployment.