NORTH ISLAND, Calif. (NNS) -- USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 were announced as the winners of the 2003 Adm. H. Flatley Memorial Award for maintaining outstanding aviation safety May 17.
The award recognizes aircraft carriers and amphibious ships with an embarked CVW or a Marine Air Ground Task Force, which surpass all competitors in overall contributions to aviation safety. Commands are selected based on operational readiness and excellence, and the subsequent safety record.
"The key to being safe on the flight deck is always being aware of all that's going on around you," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Aircraft Handling) 1st Class (AW) Vincent Ellison. "You always have to know where your people are, too, because someone can get blown off by a jet blast or even sucked into an intake.
"Supervision is very important on the flight deck," Ellison added. "When I joined the Navy, the flight deck was one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the Navy. I imagine it still ranks up there."
In 2003, Nimitz and CVW-11 completed an eight-month combat deployment, where they flew more than 6,500 missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"When we go on deployment, the last thing you want is to come back with people missing," said Industrial Hygiene Officer Lt. Jerry Graven. "That's why it's important that we be very proactive in safety. A lot of training is involved, and it goes all the way up the chain of command. The commanding officer is always interested in safety. It's just something you have to think about all of the time."
According to Ellison, safety is perhaps the most important aspect of any operation.
"Safety is paramount," Ellison said. "You can't start any evolution without making sure you are in a safe environment, and everyone is aware of their surroundings.
The presentation ceremony for the Flatley Memorial Award is scheduled to be held June 11 at the Association of Naval Aviation Convention in Tyson's Corner, Va.
For related news, visit the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn68.