NORTH ISLAND, Calif. (NNS) -- USS Nimitz (CVN 68) pulled back into Naval Air Station North Island Nov. 20 after an arduous 23 days at sea completing Tailored Ship's Training Availability (TSTA) phases I, II and III, and Final Evaluation Period (FEP).
It has taken only three months for Nimitz to become "emergency surge" deployable in accordance with the Navy's Fleet Response Plan since returning to full operational status after a six-month pierside Planned Incremental Availability.
"We are the first carrier in the Pacific to fully go through this one at sea period that encompasses both TSTA and FEP," said Cmdr. John Nell, command training officer. "There was really no time to rest. We were constantly training every day whether it was a mass casualty drill, flight and hangar deck mass conflag, general quarters or individual repair locker training."
According to Commander, Carrier Strike Group 11, Rear Adm. D.C. Curtis, "Nimitz' performance during the training cycle was superb." The ship capped off its FEP with an adjective score of outstanding - the highest score earned by a carrier this year. "The dedication of the crew has never been more evident," he added.
"The ship has performed above the levels that everyone expected after being laid up for nearly 10 months," Nell said. "The crew responded well to all phases of training and their enthusiasm and combat readiness is second to none."
While all departments on the ship had challenges to overcome, the Weapons Training Team (WTT) had an especially unique one during this underway.
"WTT faced the challenge of being recognized by ATG (Afloat Training Group) Pacific as a training team. Other carriers' weapons departments are part of the combat systems training team," said Chief Torpedoman's Mate (SW/AW) William Del Valle, a WTT member. "WTT changed that mentality and created a training team that critiqued and evaluated watchstanders to ensure the team met all objectives to help make Nimitz combat ready."
Since this is the first underway with the air wing aboard since the end of the last deployment, the air department worked especially hard to ensure the team was up and running again.
"The most difficult challenge was trying to conduct drills and flight operations simultaneously," said Lt. Scott Wolfe, who's been involved in the planning stages of TSTA and FEP since day one. "Overall the Air Department operated very efficiently. The training level improved greatly in a short period of time."
Along with general quarters and individual repair locker training, the engineering department was also extremely busy.
"We exercised the crew and flying squad in more than 122 drills and gave them a satisfactory grade, which contributed to the ship receiving a grade of 'outstanding' from the ATG teams," said Senior Chief Damage Controlman (SW/AW) Michael Poirier, a member of the Damage Control Training Team.
Though Nimitz received the highest grade of outstanding for its TSTA and FEP, the ship will not put what it learned on the back burner. The ship's training organization used the TSTA/FEP as a cornerstone in preparation of its Composite Unit Training Exercise or COMPTUEX, which begins next week.
"We are collecting all our lessons learned from this at sea period and working with CNAP (Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet) to fine tune how to make this time of training effective and efficient," said Nell.
For related news, visit the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn68.