NORFOLK (NNS) -- Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) departed Naval Station Norfolk to conduct carrier qualifications (CQ) and flight deck certification (FDC) June 1.
The evolutions marked major milestones for Abraham Lincoln's transition from the shipyard to a fully capable warship.
"The crew has been working toward flight deck certification for as long as I've been on board," said Abraham Lincoln's Flight Deck Leading Chief Petty Officer Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) William Sum. "We are ready and we plan on getting this certification safely and efficiently."
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.
Abraham Lincoln 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.
This tasking becomes increasingly challenging as many of Abraham Lincoln's crew have yet to be underway for flight operations.
"As a crew, we will have to be vigilant in emphasizing safety through proper procedures and taking things slow," said Sum.
CQ operations, while rewarding for the crew, also mean longer work hours for every Sailor involved, added Sum. Despite the large increase in workload, longer underway period, and stresses that go with any training cycle, Abraham Lincoln Sailors are ready for what lies ahead.
"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."
Along with the inherent dangers and difficulties of flight operations, CQ will also test Abraham Lincoln's ability to work together as a team. Sailors from practically every department aboard are involved in the successful launch and recovery of aircraft. List control, steam for the catapults, the navigation and steering of the ship, and radar maintenance and operation are things many people do not consider when flight operations are mentioned, but are necessary for the successful launch and recovery of aircraft. Sailors from departments such as air, operations, navigation, engineering, reactor, combat systems, and supply are involved making Abraham Lincoln successful.
"Flight deck operations are a team effort once we get out to sea," said Sum. "It is important that personnel from all departments involved are well trained and can safely work together to complete our mission."
The moment a jet touches down on Abraham Lincoln's flight deck for the first time in five years is a memory that won't soon be forgotten by Sailors who waited so long to get out of the shipyard and back into the fight.
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