USS John C. Stennis underway for flight deck certification

After completing its planned incremental availability (PIA), US Navy aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) got underway from Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton to complete its flight deck certification and other training on September 1.

Flight deck certification is a key milestone for the aircraft carrier’s return to operations at sea.

“The flight deck certification process has been ongoing for many months now, beginning with an in-depth inspection of the air department, [and] leading to a vigorous drill routine and inspection that will culminate with certifying the ship for flight operations,” said Lt. Karl Schroeder, a catapult and arresting gear officer on John C. Stennis. “The separate air department divisions will be assessed, ranging from refueling aircraft, aircraft moves on both the flight deck and in the hanger bay, to launching and recovering aircraft through both day and night operations.”

The underway also marks the first time Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 aircraft and personnel have been on board conducting flight operations in more than eight months.

“The effective coordination between JCS and CVW 9 is a critical element to ensuring the strike group is operationally prepared for the upcoming deployment,” said Schroeder. “Early and frequent interaction between the two commands is vital to the start of the work-up cycle.”

For many sailors aboard the Stennis this will be their first time conducting flight operations at sea.

“Everyone is understandably both eager and anxious about the upcoming underway and flight deck certification,” said Schroeder. “Carrier operations are, without a doubt, awe-inspiring, and those who have had the opportunity to witness or take part in flight ops are keen to get back to launching and recovering birds.”

Once flight deck certification is complete, John C. Stennis will conduct flight deck qualifications, as well as other training.

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