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VAW-123 Support Personnel Prepare for Enterprise's Final Deployment

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS120125-02

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Peter Melkus, Enterprise Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs

USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- As the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) enters the second week of its composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) Jan. 23, Sailors assigned to the carrier's squadrons continue to work around the clock to ensure their aircraft and the personnel who make them fly are ready for Big E's upcoming deployment.

For Sailors assigned to the "Screwtops" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 123, the importance of keeping aircraft "mission ready" is amplified by the fact that they possess only a fraction of the aircraft their fellow squadrons have.

With only four E-2C Hawkeye aircraft aboard Enterprise, "Screwtop" mechanics have worked tirelessly since the conclusion of their last deployment in July to ensure their upkeep and repair skills remain on point.

"During the span of two months, our Sailors completed three major aircraft modifications that will improve the capabilities of the E-2C in relation to the strike group's deployment mission," said Kersey. "They have done an amazing job maintaining our aircraft while building upon their range of skills in the process."

From mid-July through the commencement of COMPTUEX, "Screwtop" Sailors completed more than 17,000 man hours of maintenance, which included nearly 6,000 preventive and corrective maintenance actions. The efforts of VAW 123 mechanics on the ground also paved the way for pilots to complete 459 flight training hours in the air.

"Unlike last deployment, 80 percent of our Sailors are now returning with previous deployment experience," said Lt. Robert Franklin Kersey III, VAW-123 assistant maintenance officer. "Our crew is much sharper now. They know what to expect and can correct issues in a shorter turnaround time."

While "Screwtop" mechanics are charged with the responsibility of keeping their aircraft in proper working order, VAW 123's administrative team is responsible for keeping the affairs of the more than 150-Sailor crew in order as well.

"Our job is to take care of the people taking care of the aircraft," said Yeoman 2nd Class Jarrell R. Riggins, who has worked with the VAW 123 administrative team for the last two-and-a-half years. "Whatever the issue, whether personal or career-oriented, we focus on those issues so our Sailors can, in turn, focus on their jobs."

Riggins said his team is very excited to be part of Enterprise's final deployment, and it's their goal to do the best job they can do every day in order to account for and take care of every Sailor within the VAW 123 command.

Enterprise is currently underway conducting training exercises and evolutions as part of a composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) in preparation for the ship's 22nd and final deployment following 50 years of naval service.

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