NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) completed Phase III of the Crew Certification, excelling in the process that evaluated the aircraft carrier's state of readiness to go to sea safely with a qualified crew, according to evaluators, July 16.
"Passing the Crew Certification tests TR's ability to take the ship to sea," said Lt. Cmdr. Terra McIntyre, training officer aboard TR. "We're training to respond to casualties such as fire, flooding and personnel casualties."
Crew Cert III plays a vital role in the ship's mission readiness by assessing the basic underway functional areas required to proceed to sea safely. This includes safety, damage control, man overboard drills and navigation drills.
During Crew Cert III, evaluators from Carrier Strike Group 12 (CSG 12), Naval Air Force Atlantic (AIRLANT), and the Afloat Training Group (ATG) spent two days evaluating the crew's state of training during simulated underway operations emphasizing emergency drills. This is an essential process to ensure that a ship is ready to proceed to sea safely with a qualified crew upon completion of new construction or a repair period greater than nine months.
"I definitely believe you guys are ready to go to sea," said Cmdr. Marc Kennedy, training officer for CSG 12. "I have to say with the TR, the crew, the department heads, the CO, the XO worked very hard and trained really hard. The crew has significantly exceeded our expectations with regards to crew cert."
Fifty-six total evaluators came aboard. They were tasked with items such as confirming the ship has appropriate administrative programs, required instructions and up to date Personnel Qualification Standards (PQS) in place.
"ATG evaluates these drills with training assessment cards, going line by line to make sure drills are executed according to proper instruction," said Lt. Cmdr. Jeremiah Ragadio, the assistant navigator aboard TR.
Navigation drills were evaluated on operating steering procedures, navigating the ship and radar properly and executing low-visibility procedures. All of the watch standers were required to be properly qualified and documented, and the bridge watch standers were also required to be able to conduct operations safely.
Chief Warrant Officer Noel Genao, the ship's fire marshall coordinates and schedules all of the general quarter's drills, briefs and debriefs.
"The first general quarters drill was last summer," said Genao. "It has been a long uphill battle. The crew did fantastic."
During general quarters Sailors have to be manned and ready within seven minutes and they must set Zebra in 12 minutes. General quarters consist of various matters such as manning repair lockers to fighting fires, performing medical drills, securing flooded spaces and having watch teams manned on the bridge.
Damage Controlman (DC) with "Damage Control Training Team members play the role of training and personnel safety during general quarters. Although when the crew is being evaluated DC cannot assist them, only ask questions.
"Things went really great," said Damage Controlman 1st Class Daniel Hernandez. "I noticed everyone worked as a group, they unified. It was a team effort."
Man overboard drills consisted of conducting a full crew muster, launching the rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB), recovering the man overboard in less than 13 minutes and then bringing the man overboard and the RHIB back to the ship. The team did all that on the first attempt, substantially bettering the required time.
"We are responding to drills with 110 percent as if they were actual casualties," said McIntyre. "That is how we have become effective. We practice like we fight."
Theodore Roosevelt Sailors have been executing these drills for a year to get the performance of the drills to be as proficient as possible.
"This Crew Certification is letting everybody know that Theodore Roosevelt is capable to go to sea," said Ragadio. "We'll be ready to go to sea for sea trials."
With Crew Cert III complete, TR prepares to face additional milestones, specifically a Fast Cruise and Sea Trials, a four-day underway period to test the carrier's systems and overall mission readiness.
"We know there is a long way to go for us," said Capt. Daniel Grieco, TR's commanding officer. "There are still a lot of things we need to do to get the ship out of the shipyard. But we are going to keep this level of focus throughout to make sure TR is ready to go coming out of the yards."
Once Fast Cruise and Sea Trials are executed, the crew will receive more training and more certifications, as well as, more advanced level of damage control knowledge and warfighting knowledge.
"When we pull out of Newport News and complete Sea Trials, we'll return to Norfolk once again as an asset to naval aviation and as a ready for tasking aircraft carrier," said Grieco.
Theodore Roosevelt is currently completing Refueling and Complex Overhaul at Huntington Ingalls Industries - Newport News Shipbuilding and is preparing to rejoin the operational fleet and go to sea.
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