PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) left San Diego Feb. 7 to begin flight deck certification with Carrier Airwing (CVW) 2 off the coast of Southern California.
Flight deck certification is a multiple-day evolution with a series of flight and hangar deck exercises. Evaluators from Commander, Naval Air Forces (CNAF) will observe Lincoln's air department and CVW-2 as they work together to conduct flight operations.
"Getting flight deck certified is a huge milestone in training to go overseas," said Lt. Kent Davis, Lincoln's air boatswain. "It's like getting your high school diploma and moving on to college."
Lincoln will conduct numerous exercises such as taxiing aircraft, which is moving and parking planes, executing aircraft hook-up and break-down procedures, and spotting aircraft on catapults.
Sailors in Lincoln's Air Department began training and qualifying during the shipyard period. CNAF evaluators came to Lincoln 60 days and 30 days prior to the certification to check for any discrepancies in materials and supplies and to make sure the training programs were current.
Many Sailors traveled to other aircraft carriers that were underway to receive extra training.
"While training extensively on the qualifications, 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," said Lincoln's Air Officer Cmdr. Bradley T. Jensen.
Flight deck certification is a test of four events, including two day events and two night events. Day time events include taxi exercises and aircraft operation, launching helicopters, then recovering four fixed wing aircraft consecutively. Aircraft will also be launched off the bow and waist catapults.
Evaluators inspect how the crew reacts to any mishaps. One of the events simulates a loss of nose gear steering, loss of brakes and inability to raise the tail hook. Crash and salvage crews are examined for their response and the efficiency of emergency aircraft and taxi exercises.
During night events, personnel are tested on night aircraft handling and flight deck emergency procedures. All catapult watchstations must be manned and ready. Six to 12 aircraft are launched and recovered during each event. Taxi drills are conducted throughout the night, moving and parking aircraft up and down the elevators to go to and from the hangar bay and the flight deck.
Flight deck certification also gives the air wing experience and training on launching and landing on the flight deck, as well as the experience of working with the Lincoln crew.
"The flight deck is like a large puzzle," said Davis. "Everyone has their piece in it to make it successful."
Davis believes Lincoln will do well during the flight deck certification and Lincoln's future qualifications.
"This certification will allow the ship to launch and recover aircraft from our flight deck," said Davis. "This is the baby step to get the ship ready to its full potential and meet its mission."
For more news from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn72/.