ABOARD USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike) (CVN 69) returned to sea Oct. 26, and headed out to accomplish another milestone. After more than 200 carrier arrested landings, Ike successfully completed her Flight Deck Certification Oct. 28 and is one step closer to becoming surge ready.
Flight Deck Certification is an inspection of the ship's ability to launch, recover and handle aircraft. The ship demonstrated to Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet (AIRLANT) that she has the ability to properly maintain equipment conduct flight operations, and handle emergency situations.
Cmdr. Wayne Harrison, Ike's Air Boss, said Flight Deck Certification allowed the Air Department to showcase their skills in a controlled environment.
"Normally, Flight Deck Certification takes several days; we did it in two days," Harrison said. "AIRLANT told us, 'you guys are ready to go on cruise right now.' I couldn't be prouder of how the crew performed."
The Ragin' Bulls of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 37, the Gunslingers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 105, the Topcats of Anti-Submarine Squadron (VS) 31, the Bluetails of Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121, and the "Nightdippers" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 5 embarked aboard the warship to certify Ike's flight deck.
A total of 17 aircraft from these squadrons flew during the certification.
According to Harrison, the Air Department completed multiple drills day and night and two drill sets per week preparing for Flight Deck Certification.
"We did drills of landing, launching and taxiing, and simulated flight operations weekly," said Harrison.
"We also conducted barricade drills," added Lt. Jerome Morris, Ike's flight deck officer.
Barricade drills were conducted to provide Sailors with the training needed to safely land an aircraft that can't arrest properly due to damage. Sailors from the Air Department's Crash and Salvage Division also participated in firefighting drills so they would be able to quickly combat aircraft fires if necessary.
"The ship's Air Department was exceptionally well prepared," Harrison said.
The preparation for Flight Deck Certification was an ongoing process. Ike sent 250 Sailors to train, throughout the fleet, during the warship's four-year, mid-life Refueling Complex Overhaul (RCOH). Then, Ike completed Sea Trials, Flight Deck Certification and Carrier Qualifications before returning to a shipyard environment for her four-month Post Shakedown Availability and Selected Restricted Availability.
"It didn't feel new, so (the crew) wasn't out of their element," said Harrison. "AIRLANT also told us it was like we never stopped flying."
Harrison said that Air Department has performed remarkably and compared passing Flight Deck Certification with finishing college.
"It's probably like completing your thesis," Harrison said. "You graduated, and you are ready to go into the real world and do your job - we are now eligible to take our place at the tip of the spear."
For related news, visit the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn69/.