USS NIMITZ, At Sea (NNS) -- Aircraft and some Sailors from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 departed the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) July 14 after successfully completing all qualifications for a flight deck certification off the coast of Southern California.
Nimitz returned from an eight-month deployment March 26 and had not conducted flight operations since deployment.
If an aircraft carrier goes longer than 120 days without conducting aircraft launch and recovery operations, it will lose its flight deck certification. Conducting these carrier qualifications with CVW 11 ensured Nimitz maintained its certification.
CVW 11 embarked 12 aircraft and a third of its crew for the underway period.
"We had more than 10 new pilots get qualified," said Nimitz's Operations Officer Cmdr. Bruce Hay. "A third of the partial CVW 11 crew were new members on deck training for launch, recovery, taxi and tow. This was a great way to identify areas to further training. This was a win-win for the air wing and the ship."
"Safety is always number one," said Aviation Boatswains Mate (Handler) 2nd Class Clinton Bader, a flight deck aircraft handler from Air Department's V-1 Division. "Training was successful; it was a good refresher for flight deck veterans and a good introduction for our new Sailors."
Aviation Boatswains Mate Seaman Greg Divins-Stoll reported aboard Nimitz in July 2010 and is already learning about flight operations aboard an aircraft carrier.
"Observing flight deck operations for the first time was both exciting and nerve-wrecking," said Divins-Stoll. "But I'm anxious to get out there and do what I'm being trained to do."
According to Hay, there was more energy throughout the ship as Nimitz conducted flight operations.
"There is a difference in the amount of energy when the air wing is aboard Nimitz. Energy levels raise higher, Sailors become more alert and stay on their toes more with flight operations going on," said Hay.
CVW 11 returns to Nimitz with a full crew in summer 2010 for scheduled Blue Water Certification training.
"When the air wing returns for out next outing, their primary mission will be regaining a Blue Water Certification. It essentially means the ship and the air wing will be ready if we need to be quickly," said Hay. "If the president says he needs us ready to go, we are ready. We are re-establishing surge capability."
For more news from USS Nimitz (CVN 68), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn68/.