USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- Although sea trials began aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Jan. 13, the ship's Air Department Sailors are already training to pass flight deck certifications.
Lincoln Air Department personnel are focused on successfully passing an upcoming three-day evaluation which will challenge Sailors in all aspects of flight deck operations.
Beginning mid-February, evaluators from Commander, Naval Air Forces will examine Lincoln's air department and the embarked air wing through a standardized script of flight and hangar deck evolutions, the Flight Deck Certification.
Successful Flight Deck Certification ensures Lincoln's Air Department can conduct flight operations for flying days lasting more than 12 hours. This will also certify Lincoln's Jet Propellant (JP)-5 fuel system to accept, store, purify and distribute more than 3.2 million gallons of jet fuel.
"We have to pass 50 launch and recovery evolutions, including refueling, parking and moving aircraft to be successful in the flight deck certification," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Chief Petty Officer Chris Klopfer, the ship's flight deck leading chief petty officer.
Training and preparation for the flight deck certification began months ago during Lincoln's Planned Incremental Availability (PIA). The air department conducted flight deck drills monthly on the now decommissioned USS Ranger (CV 61).
To receive further training, Lincoln airmen were sent to additional schools as well as embarking underway aircraft carriers such as the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and USS Nimitz (CVN 68), receiving training on self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBAs), stretcher bearing, portable fire extinguishers and firefighting exercises.
"The biggest concern was that we've been in the shipyard for nine months so people's skills were rusty. And we've had a high crew turnover, so we had to get the new guys qualified," said Klopfer. "We had to get our team back together and back in the game."
In addition to the flight deck certification, the air department has been busy since June preparing for the Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV). Multiple tiger teams were formed within the department to focus on INSURV preparation.
"We have spent months inspecting and logging discrepancies of all our spaces and equipment for the upcoming INSURV visit," said Cmdr. Bradley T. Jensen, Lincoln's air officer. "While training extensively in Material, Maintenance, Management (3M) and damage control areas, we have raised the overall awareness and knowledge level of every individual so we can demonstrate to the inspectors we have the ability to safely and efficiently operate our ship."
With all the qualifications, drills and exercises, the air department is optimistic for their upcoming trials.
"We have the skills, training and the most professional, talented community of carrier experts," said Jensen. "The key to establishing that reputation comes from working as a team and continuously striving for perfection. Our air department does a great job assuring that mindset is exercised everyday whether in the fuel rooms, on the hangar bay or the flight deck."
For more news from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn72/.