ABOARD USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, At Sea (NNS) -- For the first time since 2001, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 personnel began to embark aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike) (CVN 69) March 28 for the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier's flight deck certification, following a four-year mid-life overhaul.
During flight deck certification, the flight deck goes through rigorous testing to get certified to launch and recover aircraft; this is the next milestone for Ike's return to the fleet.
Helicopters arrived March 29, and Ike's flight deck was busy with the arrival of the air wing's fixed-wing aircraft, marking the first arrested landing for Ike in four years.
"What we are out here to do is to launch different types of aircraft, at different weights, to make sure the catapults are working properly," said CVW-7 CMDCM(AW/SW/NAC/FMF) Mike Rang, a native of Jacksonville, N.C.
"We are here to train together as a team with the Ike Sailors," said Lt. Daniel Crowley, a native of Boston, and attached to the Nightdippers of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 5. "The more we train, the better we all get when we are on a six month cruise."
"This ship has just come out of the yards," said CMDCM (AW/SW) Rick Neal, HS-5's command master chief and a native of Mansfield, Ohio. "Working together as a team, things can run smoother in the future. We all have to learn how to crawl, walk, then run."
Neal said the Sailors aboard Ike have bent over backwards for them. He said the crew and the climate are professional, and he could see Ike wants to be the best ship in the fleet.
"I've noticed Ike Sailors are really enthusiastic about their job," said Crowley. "They have been so helpful and excited to work together."
"We're here to help ramp-up the crew," said Lt. j.g. Robert Scott, a native of Virginia Beach, Va., attached to the Patriots of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 140. "The crew looks good. The first time I was on Ike was when I was four or five, when my dad, who was stationed aboard Ike, brought me here. Coming back now is so cool to see it again, and she looks great! The fresh paint makes her look real good."
Ike and CVW-7 have come together as a team in getting Ike back to the fleet, ready to assume her watch.
"'Flight Deck Certified' means that Ike and CVW-7 are ready to go to sea and do what we are supposed to do, and that's to be a forward-deployed presence and to answer the President's call," said Rang.
CVW-7 squadrons that arrived aboard IKE are: the Topcats of Sea Control Squadron (VS) 31; the Nightdippers of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 5; the Bluetails of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121; the Wildcats of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131; and the Patriots of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 140. The Gladiators of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 and the Salty Dogs of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 also joined Ike for this underway period. These squadrons will play an integral role in certifying Ike's flight deck.
For related news, visit the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn69.