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USS Nimitz Operational, Underway

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Story Number: NNS041005-01
Release Date: 10/5/2004 8:27:00 AM

By Journalist 1st Class (SW) Steve Owsley, USS Nimitz Public Affairs

NORTH ISLAND, Calif. (NNS) -- The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) returned to Naval Air Station North Island Sept. 24 after a successful Fleet Replacement Squadron Carrier Qualification (FRSCQ) five-day underway period.

The ship and her crew qualified or requalified 47 pilots, allowed Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 an opportunity to experiment with the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets, and provided landing signal officers (LSO) additional proficiency training.

"The main purpose of an FRSCQ is to land gray airplanes on the deck of a carrier, so that we can qualify pilots to go to the fleet and do their jobs well," said Capt. David Emich, FRSCQ Detachment officer in charge.

He explained that 17 pilots were landing on the carrier for their first time during this underway period, and the rest were experienced pilots that were re-qualifying to land on a carrier's deck.

"For the new guys, FRSCQ is the culmination of their time in a fleet replacement squadron," said Emich. "All the fleet replacement squadrons (training squadrons) are made up of fleet airplanes, but a pilot is not qualified to go to the fleet until he has completed FRSCQ and knows how to land a fleet airplane on a carrier."

During the underway period, Nimitz' Air Department assisted with 621 arrested landings to support FRSCQ. The flight deck crew also conducted another 84 traps to support additional LSO proficiency training and VX-23's lateral asymmetry testing.

"I thought the flight deck crew would be rustier because of the maintenance period, but the flight deck was working great," said Chief Warrant Officer Doug Albertson, Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron (VMFAT) 101 Detachment officer in charge. "The yellow and blue shirts did a great job."

Aside from providing replacement pilots to the fleet, Nimitz also served as a platform for VX-23 to test the capabilities of the F/A-18 E/F's lateral asymmetry.

"One wing is loaded heavier than the other to test the asymmetry and flight techniques, to make sure they are safe for the fleet to fly in those configurations," said Nimitz Air Operations Officer Cmdr. Fritz Teuscher.

Nimitz and her embarked squadrons took advantage of the time at sea to get some additional proficiency training for their landing safety officers, as well.

"We were able to get the LSOs some added proficiency training, where they came in and landed in a carrier environment," said Teuscher. "The extra training helps the LSOs to be better trainers. It refreshes them so they can convey what it's like more accurately and efficiently to their students."

According to Emich, teamwork was a key to success for this FRSCQ.

"This detachment was very successful and productive," Emich said. "We got all of our pilots qualified, because Nimitz was dedicated to our mission of qualifying pilots to land on carriers in the fleet. People went out of their way to help us get things we needed to complete our mission smoothly."

Nimitz is the flagship for the Nimitz Strike Group, which is led by Carrier Strike Group 11. The ship has returned to full operational status after a six-month pierside Planned Incremental Availability, completed its Command Assessment of Readiness and Training - Phase II and is preparing for its Tailored Ship's Training Availabilities - Phases I, II and III and Final Evaluation Problem in support of the Navy's Fleet Response Program.



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