ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- USS Wasp (LHD 1) operations department began certifying the ship's Precision Approach Landing System (PALS) July 11 taking an important step in preparing the ship to be deployment ready.
PALS is essential to the safe landing of Navy and Marine Corps aircraft at sea. More importantly, the certification of the system signifies the ship is ready to execute the Navy's maritime strategy.
"PALS is one of the most crucial parts of flight, we are responsible for a safe final approach of aircraft," said Air Traffic Controller 2nd Class Roman Jimenez. "PALS works by beaming a signal to the aircraft and the aircraft acknowledging the signal it received, and following them to land safely."
Air traffic controllers operate several types of radar on board WASP, most notably the AN/SPN 35 and the AN/SPN 41. Both radars can be found on amphibious assault ships throughout the fleet.
"These radars are very accurate," said Jimenez. "The AN/SPN 41 for example has two separate transmitters: one for azimuth and the other for elevation. Together, they digitally tell the computers in the aircraft how to land on the flight deck."
The AN/SPN 35, is a precision approach radar Air Traffic Controllers use to talk with pilots. It also allows for the Amphibious Air Traffic Control center to automatically acquire, control, and land an aircraft on LHDs/LHAs under severe motion or weather conditions.
"The [AN/SPN] 35 takes over near the end of approach," said Jimenez. "It takes over and provides detailed information so the helicopter or [V-22] Osprey can land."
Not only is participating in PALSCERT an essential stepping stone for the ship to have safe flight operations, it gives WASP's Air Traffic Controllers a sense of accomplishment and more time to practice their given trade.
"It's been a while since we got a chance to land 'birds,'" said Air Traffic Controller 2nd Class Demetric White. It is a spectacular feeling to do our jobs. We're one step closer to being able to do our part in defense of our country."
Although PALS certification continues for WASP, Sailors from the ship's Amphibious Air Traffic Control Center (AATCC) worked with those in charge of flight deck operations, who are going through Aviation Certification (AVCERT), and together gained certification to land and launch helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft on the flight deck. As the sea trials continue, Wasp will work to gain the certifications necessary to launch and recover Harrier jet aircraft as well, helping lead to her goal status of surge ready deployer.
For more news from USS Wasp (LHD 1), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd1/.