NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) reached a pivotal point in the renovation of the ship's flight deck in early June.
When Ike pulled into Northrop-Grumman Newport News Shipbuilding for its Refueling and Complex Overhaul, a large hole was cut into the flight deck to retrieve the arresting gear and send it off to Lakehurst, N.J. Now,the ship's arresting gear is back from Lakehurst, fully serviced, and is in the process of being put back in its proper place. Air Department's Maintenance Chief, Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (AW) Kelvin Prater felt he and many other Air Sailors learned a lot from USS Nimitz's (CVN 68) overhaul, which is why this overhaul isn't extremely difficult.
"There haven't been many challenges in our overhaul, because of the work many of our Sailors preformed on the Nimitz. The Nimitz overhaul was a great learning process for us," said Prater.
All four of Ike's catapults are also being revamped. They'll be coming out of lay-up in the near future. Prater feels that the most challenging part of the catapult evolution will be the operational test.
"The most time consuming and difficult part of this entire availability period is pre-op testing. There are 16 watch stations that must be manned before the catapults can be tested. Hydraulics must be brought up to check for leaks and electrical checks must be preformed," said Prater.
Once all the necessary checks and stations have been taken care of a dry cycle can be executed. In a dry cycle everything operates as if the catapult was actually being fired during normal operation, with the exception that there is no steam. Prater compared a dry cycle to shooting a gun with no bullet in the chamber.
"We really couldn't ask for better work from the shipyard, without them we wouldn't be nearly as far a long as we are," said Prater.
Once tests begin on the catapults early next year, eight-hour work days can turn into 12-hour work days for the Air Department. Ike Sailors who are currently underway on other ships will play a major role in the installation and pre-op testing.
Prater said the training some new Sailors are receiving will help them be more productive when they return, and it is also teaching them flight deck safety.
"Shipmates who are currently TAD [temporary assigned duty] will help a lot with this evolution. Many young Sailors will be able to see how a Nimitz-class carrier's Air Department operates, and most importantly, they'll learn flight deck safety procedures," said Prater.
Sailors and shipyard workers continue to work hard to get Ike's flight deck up and running.
For related news, visit the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn69.