When the crew of aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike) saw the ship's first commanding officer, Capt. William Ramsey, make the first launch off the flight deck Sept. 15, 1977, few probably thought the 17th commanding officer would one day proudly announce the ship's 300,000th successful arrested landing.
On March 19, Commanding Officer Capt. Paul Spedero Jr. made that announcement. It gave the crew an impressive flat number, showing just how much the carrier has accomplished in the nearly 40 years since its commissioning.
"I appreciate being here to witness it and getting to be part of the team that made it happen," said Cmdr. Jeremy Rifas, the ship's air boss, who directs flight operations.
Launching aircraft from a platform at sea requires several divisions working together. Ike Sailors have worked tirelessly to learn and teach their art over the years, making the current procedures used by trained professionals an achievement accomplished by countless Sailors over the past four decades.
"Every landing on a ship is a very precise thing," Rifas said. "When you get 300,000, it's a pretty big testament to the skill of the aviators and the personnel who maintain the recovery equipment. It's an incredible feat."
During Ike's deployment last year and through its recent training-related underway periods, the ship has maintained a consistent schedule of launching and recovering aircraft throughout the day and night.
"It shows the combat-ready history of the ship," said Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) Gerard Dindial, leading chief petty officer of air department's V-2 division, who is responsible for maintaining the steam catapults and arresting gear. "The primary mission of the ship is to launch and recover aircraft, so it's very important that we can count on the equipment to recover them safely."
That translates into long hours for V-2 Sailors, but it is a job they take great pride in and their Leading Petty Officer, Aviation Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Marcus Snedeker said they impress him daily.
"Our Sailors work hard," he said. "They work long hours to keep all the equipment running. For a ship to have done so much and still be running just fine, it shows that these Sailors know what they're doing and how they knock it out of the park every day."
On a daily basis they perform preventative maintenance, corrosion control, and conduct repairs on the machines behind the curtain, below the flight deck, and make landing a plane without a full-sized landing strip possible.
"'Bravo Zulu' to the team," Snedecker said. "They're doing an amazing job. For a lot of them, this is their first time with hands on the equipment and they've caught on to what we do down here very quickly."
Source: US Navy
Date: Mar 22, 2017