ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) got underway from Naval Station Norfolk for flight deck certification, April 8.
"Flight Deck Certification is the first major event for IKE now that we've entered the basic phase of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan," said Capt. Kyle Higgins, Ike's commanding officer. "Having Air Wing 3 back on board, ready for action, is what's makes this exciting for the entire crew. This ship was built to launch and recover aircraft and that's what we'll do -- first out here in the Virginia Capes, and then wherever the nation needs us."
The last time Ike conducted flight operations was in the summer of 2017. The ship recently completed a planned incremental availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard as part of the maintenance phase of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP).
“It’s really cool to see the progress we’ve made,” said Personnel Specialist 2nd Class Caitlyn Holder, the Education Service Office’s leading petty officer. “I think it’s awesome seeing how far the Ike has come in the last two years.”
Sailors are excited to have aircraft aboard the ship once again, especially members of Ike’s air department.
“This extended availability period allowed air department a lot of time to prepare and train for the return of aircraft to the flight deck of Mighty Ike,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 1st Class Eric Mattone, V-1 Division Fly 3 Petty Officer. “This is only the beginning and we have a lot of work to do in order to come together as a team, but overall we’re very excited to have the air wing back aboard our war ship.”
This underway will include the aircraft and crew of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3, which features Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 7, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 74, Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 130, Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 123, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 105, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 83 and Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131.
“The last time we were on the Ike was during deployment, and we had a ton of fun,” said Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic Chris Sarvis, assigned to VFA 131. “It’s been a while but we’re excited to get back into the groove and get some quality training.”
After completing flight deck certification, Ike will continue training at sea and conducting carrier qualifications as the crew prepare for a future deployment as part of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 10.
CSG 10, also known as the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, includes the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Dwight D, Eisenhower (CVN 69), the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers USS Monterey (CG 61), USS San Jacinto (CG 56), and USS Vella Gulf (CG 72); the ships and staff of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26; and the squadrons and staff of CVW 3.
For more news from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn69/.