USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) held flight operations for the first time on her deck in more than eight months Feb. 21.
With Truman's departure from the shipyards, the ship is slowly working her way toward fully operational status. Launching and recovering aircraft is the ship's primary mission, and the flight-deck crew is working around the clock to ensure that Truman's flight operations are up to speed. The first task for personnel on the flight deck is to complete flight-deck certifications over the course of the next few months, explained Lt. Cmdr. Jeffery Sandin, Truman's handler.
"We're actually now into phase II, which is the certification of the flight deck: launching aircraft, recovering aircraft, refueling aircraft and all the things we do during flight operations," Sandin said.
"We've got to have Naval Air Forces' approval or blessing to continue on and advance further into the work-up cycle and the deployment."
Sailors will perform flight operations on a regular basis to get ready for the certification process. Sandin said a handling team from Commander, Naval Air Forces will come aboard the ship to evaluate Truman's flight operations.
"They look at the Air department and how they perform as a team, how we conduct flight operations, how we work with the air wing as a team, how we launch and recover aircraft, refuel aircraft and maintain our equipment," said Sandin.
For many Sailors, the flight operations were their first opportunity to see aircraft launched and recovered. Numerous Sailors new to Truman and the flight deck watched while the experienced Sailors trapped jets.
"I like the adrenaline rush it gives you when you're standing there, knowing that you're right next to the planes taking off," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate [Equipment] (ABE) Airman Brittany Vogt, a Sailor who is completing her flight-deck qualification and will soon be working on the bow catapults. "I'm excited just about seeing the planes take off and land today. I loved it. It was awesome."
For new Sailors on the flight deck, like Vogt, the Handler said to put safety first. He noted the flight deck is a dangerous place to work and accidents do occasionally happen, therefore, it is necessary to pay attention and use Operational Risk Management.
"It's been a very busy and compact schedule, and I need everyone to have their head on their shoulders," said Sandin. "When something doesn't appear right, don't be afraid to say, 'hey petty officer' or 'hey chief, this just doesn't seem right,' and bring it to someone's attention."
For Vogt, a competitive attitude and enthusiasm to learn will contribute to success on the flight deck.
"I want to learn everything as quick as I can and be good at it," Vogt said. "I like to be better than the guys most of the time. I'll be an ABE master chief."
Other considerations for flight deck work include foreign object debris (FOD) and safety gear. Sandin said Sailors are still finding shipyard FOD throughout the ship.
It is important to thoroughly clean the ship to ensure FOD does not end up on the flight deck or hangar bays where it could hurt personnel or damage equipment. Flight deck uniforms must be worn properly. This means removing buttons from trousers and sewing the pockets shut. Sandin said Sailors should make especially sure their float coat works properly as it is a life-saving piece of equipment.
During the course of flight operations Saturday, Truman successfully completed more than 40 recoveries, launched jets from the bow catapults and completed precision approach and landing.
Sailors will continue a rigorous flight operations schedule as they prepare to pass flight-deck certifications and get ready for Truman's next deployment.
For more news from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn75/ .