USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- The Kestrels of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 137 were awarded the Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 Golden Wrench Maintenance Award aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) April 20.
The Golden Wrench Award is given to the top maintenance department in CVW 2. The competition for the award was between the nine squadrons of CVW 2, four of which were 2011 Commander, Naval Air Forces (CNAF) Pacific Fleet Battle Effectiveness (Battle "E") winners.
"We have some of the best competition in the Navy, and we do not take this award for granted," said Lt. Kevin Kitchin, VFA-137 assistant maintenance officer.
The award is a comprehensive evaluation of all aspects of maintenance. Some of the criteria by which a squadron is graded are ordnance and mission systems reliability, rate of mission-capable aircraft, coordination with air wing staff and the aircraft carrier, accuracy in reports and aircraft appearance.
"I have been in the Hornet community for 24 years now, and this is one of the best maintenance departments I have been a part of," said Kitchin. "Our maintainers have been through a lot in the past two years. They continue to show the drive to get better every day while they have proven to have phenomenal resiliency to distractions."
The Kestrels send F-18E Super Hornets to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) six days a week with one no-fly day dedicated to preparing the jets for the following week. The pace requires 24 hours of maintenance every day in order to have combat-ready aircraft.
"It is great to get this award after all of the hard work," said Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class Timothy Hennings. "It took teamwork from all of the maintainers in the squadron to achieve this."
VFA-137 and CVW 2 are embarked aboard Lincoln as part of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9, which also includes the guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (CG 71) and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 9, comprised of the guided-missile destroyers USS Momsen (DDG 92) and USS Sterett (DDG 104). CSG 9 is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and combat flight operations in support of OEF.
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