YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) completed her Light-Off Assessment (LOA) May 5 and is now ready to go full steam ahead.
Any conventionally-powered aircraft carrier coming out of a restricted availability period of 120 days or more is required by Commander, Naval Air Forces (COMNAVAIRFOR), to complete an LOA to ensure the ship is ready to safely light-off, or ignite, the boiler fires in its main machinery rooms.
"During LOA, we had the engineering plant certified 'ready to go,'" said Cmdr. Michael Zurich, Kitty Hawk's main propulsion assistant. "After that, we successfully lit-off and are now ready to steam ahead."
At the completion of the LOA, the senior person on the assessment team will present Kitty Hawk's commanding officer with a breakdown of the engineers' performance. If engineering department has met all of the requirements, the ship will be given thumbs up and certified as safe to light-off.
"Representatives from COMNAVAIRFOR, ATG (Afloat Training Group) Pacific and ATG Western Pacific sent people aboard to assess our light-off capabilities," said Master Chief Damage Controlman (SW/AW) David Singer, engineering department's material and maintenance management assistant.
The assessment team began their observations May 2 by evaluating how Kitty Hawk's engineering department compared to Navywide engineering standards and how well its personnel were trained in operating the boiler system. They also observed the ship's damage control team perform a main-space fire drill.
"Fifty percent of the assessment is showing that you're able to fight a Class 'B' [machinery] fire in any machinery space," said Singer. "We passed the fire drill on our first attempt, and that allowed a lot of our people to help in other areas of the assessment."
According to Singer, it was constant practice and drills that ensured engineering's success during the LOA.
"We started practicing for LOA at the end of March with training exercises and walkthroughs," he said. "We drilled all through April, and right up to the weekend before the light-off."
According to Capt. Ed McNamee, Kitty Hawk's commanding officer, the damage control team's performance during the drill continued a tradition of success in this area for Kitty Hawk's engineers.
"This is the third LOA in a row where we have passed the firefighting drill on the first attempt," he said. "The Sailors on the [damage control team] should all be proud of themselves."
According to Zurich, credit must also go to all personnel who helped renovate Kitty Hawk's engineering spaces during a recent ship's restricted availability (SRA) period.
"We had a lot of work done during SRA," he said. "Three of our boilers had a five-year overhaul done on them, in which we take them apart and check for leaks, corrosion and damage. We then had to put them back together and test them prior to lighting-off."
At all-hands quarters May 5, McNamee praised everyone involved in LOA for their contribution to Kitty Hawk's success.
"We had minimal material discrepancies, and our engineering spaces looked great," he said. "This was a ship-wide evolution, and you have all continued to establish a great reputation for yourselves."
The Kitty Hawk Strike Group is the largest carrier strike group in the Navy and is composed of the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, the guided-missile cruisers USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) and USS Cowpens (CG 63), and Destroyer Squadron 15.
For related news, visit the USS Kitty Hawk Strike Group Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cv63/.