ABOARD USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea (NNS) -- After a five-month post shakedown availability (PSA), crew members of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) made the grade when the ship received its second flight deck certification May 8.
The certification was completed during the ship's first under way since its maiden port visit to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., in November.
With the ship's air department outfitted and seven squadrons aboard to assist, the only hurdles were the Commander, Naval Air Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CNAP) inspectors.
Certifications began Wednesday and ended Saturday, when CNAP inspectors passed the ship with flying colors.
"We did an outstanding job," said Cmdr. Will Cooney, air department air boss. "Great leadership in key positions kept all cylinders running smoothly."
According to Cooney, flight deck certification encompassed all flight operations, not just launching and recovering aircraft. Safety, crash and salvage, fuel certifications and training were some of the many procedures needing qualifications.
Many Sailors who participated in the certification are new to the command and were in need of hands-on training.
"Although we have a lot of young Sailors, they train extremely hard to ensure they're the best," said Cooney. "We have a lot of talent in the air department."
Cooney deemed this certification's flying schedule more aggressive than the first.
"We launched 150 aircraft the first day, and night operations ran until 2 a.m.," said Cooney. "It was terrific to have all of our guys doing what they spent so much time training on during PSA."
According to Cooney, approximately 1,500 Sailors, comprised of the ship's air department and seven squadrons aboard, displayed seamless teamwork to accomplish their goal.
"Once all hands involved were coordinated, the teamwork was massive," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Eric Thibodeaux. "This is the finest department I've ever had the pleasure of working with."
Cooney said the team's main ingredients for success were focus and training.
"With the cooperation of the air wing and all participating departments, this evolution was executed very well," said Cooney. "Anytime someone from CNAP comes and says you're doing a great job, it's a proud moment."
For related news, visit the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn76.