YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) returned to its forward-deployed home in Yokosuka, Japan, March 15, after spending more than three days at sea testing equipment, training crew members and conducting drills.
Kitty Hawk got underway March 12 after a two-and-a-half-month in-port period, during which the ship underwent engineering plant maintenance and weapons systems upgrades.
According to Kitty Hawk's commanding officer, Capt. Tom Hejl, the time at sea allowed his crew to check equipment, review procedures and ensure the ship is fully ready to embark on its scheduled extended underway period.
The ship's engineers brought the plant back online after 78 days of cold iron operations, during which the ship's boilers, diesel engines and generators were essentially "turned off."
According to Chief Machinist's Mate Gary Kreger, one of Hawk's engineering watch officers, the ship's engineering plant is now ready to answer all bells.
"This sea trials period was outstanding. The plant is ready in every way, and all watchstanders are trained for every normal underway evolution. We are ready to go," Kreger said.
Hawk's air department teamed with embarked squadrons of Carrier Air Wing 5 to complete certification of the ship's flight deck. During the certification process, inspectors from Commander, Naval Air Forces, Pacific evaluated the team's ability to safely and effectively fuel, direct, launch and recover aircraft from the ship's flight deck.
Combat systems personnel conducted systems tests and drills to ensure the smooth integration of technical upgrades and new hardware, including the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) system.
Kitty Hawk is the first U.S. Navy aircraft carrier fitted with the RAM system.
"We were able to exercise all weapons," said Chief Fire Controlman Ray Anderson, a member of Kitty Hawk's fire control division. "We verified that every gun mount and every radar system is operating as designed. Also, these three days gave us the opportunity to conduct at-sea operator training. The training was invaluable."
Additionally, the entire crew took part in the first in a series of increasingly complex damage control training scenarios, designed to reinforce basic damage control skills and build the crew's ability to work as a team to combat fire, flooding and any other threat to the ship.
"We gained a lot from our general quarters damage control training, particularly the newer crew members, Kitty Hawk's Damage Control Assistant Lt. Cmdr. Jerome Zinni said. "This was our first general quarters since last underway period, and our objectives were to verify station assignments, and ensure everyone knew how to set condition 'zebra' to ensure the ship's water tight integrity and secure ventilation in case of emergency."
For related news, visit the Pacific Fleet Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cpf.