USS KITTY HAWK, At Sea (NNS) -- Each time an aircraft carrier gets underway, pilots assigned to the attached carrier air wing undergo an evolution known as carrier landing qualification (CQ).
For the naval aviators of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 serving aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), CQs begin at the airfield, but aren't complete until the pilots and their aircraft reach the ship.
CQs are done in the first few days of an underway period to re-qualify both pilots and flight deck crew on launching and recovering aircraft before normal operations.
According to Lt. Cmdr. Richard Rivera, CVW-5 Strike Operations, this is one of the most exciting and dangerous occupations in the world, but successful CQs can help make it a safer place for everyone.
"CQ is important to this air wing, and any air wing, because that's what keeps us off the ramp," said Rivera. "It starts back at the field. We have a series of qualifications we have to go through. Once those qualifications are met, we get out here on the ship."
Rivera stressed the importance of a meticulous CQ. Failure to do so, he said, has proven fatal in the past.
"These things are written in blood. Guys have died in the past, and we need to make sure that CQ starts out any at-sea period for us out here in the FDNF [Forward Deployed Naval Forces] and anywhere," said Rivera.
Qualifications are expected to be complete within three days and nights to allow more than 40 pilots to qualify, and to train all flight deck personnel. Completion of CQ allows the ship and air wing to operate in the type of environment they would likely encounter during a military action.
"CQ is a means to allow us to execute our normal operations," said Rivera. "Once CQ is complete, we go into cyclic operations where we fly a 12-hour fly day. So, once we're done with CQ, cyclic ops allow us to launch aircraft and while those aircraft are gone, launch more aircraft and recover the ones that were gone initially."
"Cyclic ops then allow us to train like we fight," Rivera continued. "We're going to test the deck. We're going to test the ordnance members who are loading our aircraft. We're going to test the maintenance workers. This test is really about maintaining our readiness for when the call comes to avert any crisis that may arise in the future."
Kitty Hawk is currently underway in the western Pacific Ocean, participating in Summer Pulse '04. Summer Pulse '04 is the Navy's first exercise using the Fleet Response Plan (FRP). The FRP is the Navy's response to the requirements of a 21st century security environment. FRP includes the organization, manning, training and equipping of our Navy.
The Kitty Hawk Strike Group is the largest carrier strike group in the Navy and is composed of Kitty Hawk, CVW-5, the guided-missile cruisers USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) and USS Cowpens (CG 63), and Destroyer Squadron 15. Destroyer Squadron 15 has as its units the guided-missile cruiser USS Vincennes (CG 49), guided-missile destroyers USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) and USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), the destroyer USS Cushing (DD 985), and the fast frigates USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) and USS Gary (FFG 51).
For more information about Summer Pulse '04 visit the Commander Fleet Forces Command Web site at www.cffc.navy.mil/summerpulse04.htm.
For related news, visit the USS Kitty Hawk Strike Group Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cv63.