First F-35 ready aircraft carrier gets underway for flight deck certifications

The U.S. Navy’s first aircraft carrier capable of accommodating fifth-generation F-35C fighter aircraft, the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), departed Naval Station Norfolk to conduct carrier qualifications (CQ) and flight deck certification (FDC) on June 1.

The evolutions mark major milestones for Abraham Lincoln’s transition from the shipyard to a fully capable warship.

FDC consists of an assessment of Abraham Lincoln’s sailors to not only successfully conduct day and nighttime flight deck operations, but also emergency barricade testing, flight deck firefighting and crash and salvage drills.

The first jet that lands on the Abraham Lincoln during the trials, will also be the first one to land on the carrier in five years. Lincoln spent the last four years in Newport News undergoing its refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) which prepared it for another 25 years of service.

While the Abraham Lincoln has been modified to become capable of launching F-35C jets, the U.S. Navy said the carrier is scheduled to launch and recover pilots from Carrier Air Wing 7 in F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets, E-A-18G Growlers and C-2 Greyhounds. No F-35C flights are apparently scheduled for this underway.

“For the past year, air department Sailors have trained and prepared for this underway period,” said Cmdr. David Burmeister, Abraham Lincoln’s Air Boss. “Everyone has been waiting for this opportunity to get our flight deck certified and bring Lincoln back to operational status.”

In addition to practicing flight deck operations, the command sent hundreds of sailors to specialized training to obtain flight deck qualifications and executed multiple fire drill scenarios for evaluation

“Our sailors who work on the flight deck, in the catapults and arresting gear, in the hangar bay and with our fuel systems, are ready to go,” said Burmeister. “I have never seen a group of individuals work harder to achieve their goal. I look forward to seeing them in action when the first jet hits the deck.”

 

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