Deck Officer



Information Sheet 1.15


The safety of the helicopter crew and your ship depends on the condition of the flight deck and the ship’s ability to meet safe launch and recovery requirements. Your flight deck equipment must be in proper order and condition with all systems working. Additionally, the watchstanders are required to be familiar with the flight operations checklists and the limitations of the aircraft operated.


(a) NWP 3-04.1

(b) NAVSUP Pub. 485 (Afloat Supply Procedures)

(c) NAEC-ENG-7576 (Shipboard Aviation Facilities Resume)



1. Markings - Properly utilized, deck markings ensure adequate obstruction clearance and proper positioning for the specific helicopter that the ship is certified to bring on deck.

a. Landing lineup line/circle - Obstruction clearance is ensured when the helicopter lands with the main mounts, nosewheel or forward skid crosstube within the landing circle and the fuselage centerline aligned with the landing lineup line on the deck.

b. VERTREP "T" line - Obstacle clearance is ensured when the helicopter hovers with its rotor hub(s) on or aft of the line.

c. VERTREP Ball and "T" line - This line will appear only in combination with the T line when the T line does not provide enough clearance for larger rotor helicopters such as the H-3, H-53, and H-60.

d. Helicopter In-Flight Refueling (HIFR) Marking - The HIFR hose pickup points, located on the port side and is designated with a letter "H". Obstacle clearance is ensured when the helicopter hovers oriented fore and aft with the hoisting point over the "H" for hose pickup.


Figure 1.15-2 Typical Flight Deck Lights and Markings


2. Nets - There are two types of nets available:

a. Nylon webbing - should be IAW MIL-W-23223A.

b. Corrosion Resistant Steel (CRES) nets - should be IAW drawing 803-5000902 and shall be installed in missile blast areas.

3. Lights

a. Visual Landing Aids (VLA) - Lights which assist the pilot in safely positioning the helicopter over the deck when the flight deck markings are not clearly visible (night ops or foul weather).

(1) Lighting configuration will be determined by the types of helicopters which the ship is certified to land, and the types of operations for which the ship is equipped. For example, ships equipped with Recovery, Assist, Securing and Traversing (RAST) system will also have the applicable lighting, and ships that are only certified for VERTREP and HIFR will have the lighting applicable to those evolutions.


b. VERTREP lighting equipment includes:

    1. Lighting control panel - This panel provides the operator with switches, dimmers, and status indicators to control and monitor the helicopter area during night (or foul weather) operations.

(2) Homing beacon - Provides the helicopter pilot with a visual guide to home in on at night. The flashing white light is mounted high on the main mast where it will be visible for 360 degrees in azimuth.

(3) Deck edge lights - Outline the perimeter of the obstruction-free helicopter deck area and are installed to coincide with the peripheral markings.

(4) VERTREP approach lineup lights (white) - Are installed on the segmented VERTREP lineup line to indicate the line of approach for VERTREP hover operation.

(5) Overhead/forward structure floodlights - Consists of red, white, and amber overhead floodlights installed to illuminate the flight deck and other irregularly shaped structures (such as missile launchers) located immediately forward of the flight deck.

(6) HIFR heading lights -Consists of red and amber lights that give the helicopter pilot a visual indication of the ship's heading and provide a height reference during in-flight refueling operations.

(7) Deck status light system - A flashing light fixture mounted forward of the VERTREP area, usually on the face of the hangar. Light shown will be red, amber, or green, corresponding to the status of the flight deck.

(8) Rotary beacon signal system -Consists of three rotating beacons (red, amber, and green) which replace the deck status lights on many air-capable ships. The rotary beacon system performs the same function as the deck status light system.

c. Landing configured lighting equipment

(1) Deck surface/hangar wash floodlights -Are required on ships to provide white floodlighting on helicopter landing decks and on the aft face of the hangar to provide additional surface detail and depth perception.

(2) Maintenance floodlights - Installed on the flight deck to provide red, white or amber floodlighting on the helicopter during pre-flight or post-flight maintenance.

(3) Extended lineup lights - Are forward and aft extension of the deck-installed lineup lights to provide the helicopter pilot with additional lineup and depth perception cues during the approach and touchdown maneuver.

(4) Vertical drop line lights - Three to six red light fixtures which provide an aft extension of the white lineup lights in the deck.

(5) Horizon Reference System (HRS) - A 10-foot lighted bar which is gyro-stabilized to provide the pilot with an artificial horizon, generally found on ships certified for SH-60 helicopters.


Figure 1.15-4 Stabilized Glide Slope Indicator


(6) Flash sequencer - Provides the capability of sequentially flashing every deck-installed

landing lineup light and alternate lights in the forward extended lineup light bar.

(7) Stabilized Glide Slope Indicator (SGSI) -The SGSI is an electro-hydraulic-optical landing aid designed for use on air-capable ships. When used in conjunction with the associated VLA and shipboard radar systems, the SGSI greatly enhances the pilot's ability to execute safe approaches over a broad range of Instrument Flight Rule (IFR) and Visual Flight Rule (VFR) operating conditions. The color of the light indicates to the pilot whether they are above (green), below (red), or on (amber) the proper glide slope.

(8) Waveoff light system - Installed on each side of the SGSI. When these lights are flashing, the pilot is to abort the landing attempt.

(9) Obstruction Lights - Installed at the highest points on the extreme port and starboard sides of the ship to outline the structure forward of the helicopter landing area. They help the pilot judge position relative to forward obstructions during approach and takeoff.

4. Fire fighting systems - The ship's Damage Control Assistant is responsible for the organization and training of the flight deck fire fighting team, and for the supervision of all fire fighting evolutions.

a. Personnel requirements - The ship's battle bill must reflect the minimum personnel requirements such as:

(1) Scene leader

(2) Two rescue personnel in proximity suits

(3) Two AFFF hose teams

(4) Foam station operator

(5) Corpsman

(6) Plugman

(7) S/P phone talkers/messengers

(8) Back-up personnel

(a) Back-up scene leader

(b) A third AFFF hose team

(c) Sound powered phone talkers/messengers

b. Fire Fighting Equipment

(1) Hangar area - Two CO2 and two dry chemical (PKP) extinguishers shall be mounted within each hangar bay.

(2) Flight deck - Two CO2 and two dry chemical (PKP) extinguishers shall be available for each landing area, VERTREP hover, and HIFR area. These extinguishers shall be mounted in the vicinity of the operating area.

(3) Hangar sprinkler system - Each hangar shall be equipped with an overhead foam sprinkler system.


(4) AFFF outlets - All points of the landing, VERTREP hover, HIFR, or the hangar area shall be accessible to the hoses from at least two stations capable of providing foam.


1. Information

a. VERTREP provides a capability for augmenting and enhancing alongside replenishment. It also permits increased flexibility and considerable latitude in replenishment planning, particularly regarding time and location of Underway Replenishment (UNREP) operations. There are some specific advantages of VERTREP that should be considered in determining the method of UNREP particularly:

(1) Reduction in overall time to replenish the supported forces or unit.

(2) Reduction or elimination of time that screening ships are required to be off station.

(3) Reduction in personnel involved.

2. VERTREP Helicopter

a. CH-46 - Currently, the CH-46 is the most widely used VERTREP helicopter. The CH-46 can VERTREP cargo on its external hook or by internal load. The tandem rotor configuration of the CH-46 allows maneuverability without the wind restrictions normally associated with tail rotor helicopters.

b. UH-1 - Are equipped with external cargo hooks and have a weight-limited VERTREP capability.

c. H-60 - Are equipped with eternal cargo hooks and have a VERTREP capability.

d. H-53 - Are equipped with external cargo hooks and are used by the USMC for vertical lifts and by the USN for vertical onboard delivery (VOD) operations.

3. Personnel

a. Aviation Officer - In ships that have an aviation department, the aviation coordinator, HCO, FDO, LSO, shall be responsible to the aviation officer for the performance of their duties.

b. Helicopter Control Officer (HCO) - On air-capable ships which have no aviation department, the HCO is responsible for all aircraft operating under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) in the ship's control zone.

c. Landing Safety Officer (LSO) - Normally an naval aviator, during RAST flight deck evolutions the LSO controls flight operations with the HCO acting as a safety officer.


d. Flight Deck Officer (FDO) - On air-capable ships on which the physical location of the flight deck and the helicopter control station are such that the safety of flight operations would be enhanced by an additional supervisor on the flight deck, an FDO should be designated. In this case, the FDO shall be responsible to the HCO for assigned duties and shall provide a safety backup for the LSE.

e. Landing Signal Enlisted (LSE) - Responsible for the visual signaling to the helicopter, thus assisting the pilot in making a safe takeoff and/or approach and landing to the ship. The LSE is responsible for directing the pilot to the desired deck spot and for ensuring general safety conditions of the flight deck area, to include control of the flight deck crew.

f. Chock and Chain Handlers - Are under the supervision of the LSE and are responsible for the placement and removal of chocks and chains tiedowns during flight operations. The chock and chain handlers serve as cargo load spotters during VERTREP operations.

g. Fueling Crew - Responsible for all fueling equipment on the flight deck. The fueling crew takes a sample of the shipboard fuel and allows the helicopter pilot to visually inspect the fuel for suitability. The fueling crew also runs the fueling lines to the helicopter to perform the refueling.


a. Load Pickup - Before starting operations, pilot and crewmen shall be provided the name, type of ship, hull number, location in the formation, frequencies, and tactical voice call signs of all receiving ships. The helicopter hovers over the deck of the delivery ship and the hookup crewmember holds the pendant up to a helicopter crewmember who slips the pendant over the external hook of the helicopter.

b. Load Delivery - When approaching the receiving ship, the pilot ascertains the drop location by observing the position of the load spotter. Once over the drop zone, the pilot follows the LSE advisory signals for general positioning of the helicopter. Precision guidance and lowering of the load is provided by the VERTREP air crew member. The crewmember informs the pilot when the load is on deck. The pilot is informed of the hook release verbally by the VERTREP crewmember and visually by the LSE signal.

c. Returning VERTREP Retrograde and Equipment - As pallets, nets, triwalls, containers, and hoisting slings accumulate on the receiving ship, they are assembled into loads for return to the UNREP ship. In addition to taking up much needed space on the receiving ship, they are needed back on the UNREP ship to make up new loads.


1. Operating Crew

a. The operating crew for the RAST system consists of a Landing Safety Officer (LSO), a Flight Deck Director (FDD) and a Machinery Room Operator (MRO). The helicopter pilot is also involved in the operation of the system, as are personnel on the ship's bridge and flight deck.

(1) Landing Safety Officer (LSO) -The LSO coordinates the activities of all personnel involved in the operation of the system. The LSO is positioned in front of the control console in the RAST control station on the flight deck. From this position, the LSO will have communications with the helicopter pilot, the FDD, the MRO, and bridge personnel.

(2) Flight Deck Director (FDD) -The FDD relays instructions from the LSO to the flight deck personnel. The flight deck personnel attach and remove various cables from the helicopter and report on the status of operations.

(3) Machinery Room Operator (MRO) -The MRO operates the equipment locally for maintenance purposes. The MRO also positions the Movable Sheave Assembly (MSA) under the selected track as requested by the LSO. When the equipment is to be operated remotely, the MRO turns control over to the LSO, leaves the machinery room, and does not return to the machinery room again during operations unless asked to do so.

(4) Pilot - Lowers the messenger cable and raises the recovery assist tension probe to land the helicopter. The pilot also raises and lowers the tail probe, locks and unlocks the tail wheel, and sets and releases the wheel brakes as required.

(5) Bridge Personnel - Respond to requests from the LSO for clearance to perform various operations. Requests and responses are sent via a lamp system.

2. Modes of Operation

a. Local/Remote Control - The RAST system can be operated locally in the machinery room or remotely at the control console. Local control is used to perform maintenance and to handle the helicopter in the event of an emergency. Remote control is used for normal operations.

b. Recovery Assist - In this mode the system is used to help the helicopter pilot land the helicopter safely on the deck of the ship.

c. Securing - In this mode the system is used to secure the helicopter to the ship after landing and to align the helicopter with the track.

d. Launching - In this mode the system is used to secure the helicopter to the ship until the pilot is ready to take off.

e. Traversing - In this mode the system is used to move the helicopter into and out of the hangar.

3. Safety Precautions

a. DO NOT enter the machinery room when the RAST system is in use. The rapidly moving machinery and tensioned cables present a serious hazard to personnel.

b. DO NOT operate the RAST system while the MRO is in the machinery room.

c. Flight deck personnel must capture the RAST messenger cable with a grounding hook to discharge any static electric charge on the helicopter.

d. Ensure the track length is clear of debris and unauthorized personnel and that the hangar doors are open before traversing a helicopter on the RAST system.

e. Because of the flexibility of the rotor blades, the LSE shall direct the helicopter from a position outside the rotor diameter. No personnel shall walk under the rotors until they are either stopped or are at full speed.

f. All personnel involved in the movement of a helicopter shall wear appropriate flight deck shoes and approved floatation devices with attached whistle and strobe light.

g. The RAST system uses hydraulic fluids, which may cause skin and eye irritation with prolonged or repeated exposure. Wash skin with soap and water after handling fluid.



1. Each surface ship must have two qualified Rescue Swimmers.

a. Surface Rescue Swimmer courses are offered at Mayport and San Diego.

(1) The intensive two-week school focuses on practical rescue techniques.

(2) Medical screening is a prerequisite for attending the course.

(3) Candidates must be First Class Swimmers.

(4) Candidates must pass a PRT and swim 400 meters the first day.

(5) Candidates must bring a 1348 form to purchase required equipment.

b. Upon return to the parent command, the new graduate must

(1) Perform four man overboard drills, two deck recoveries, and two boat recoveries

(2) Be designated as Rescue Swimmer in writing by the Commanding Officer

c. Rescue Swimmers must be CPR qualified.

d. Rescue swimmers must requalify annually. To requalify, the Rescue Swimmer must:

(1) Perform eight hours of water training (four hours every six months) to practice lifesaving techniques to include familiarization with aviation equipment training and parachute disentanglement.

(2) Perform four man overboard drills using the rescue litter (two every six months) to include forecastle deck recovery and motor whaleboat.

e. Previously-qualified Rescue Swimmers transferring from one ship to another must undergo refresher training with the new ship's crew and equipment and be certified by the Commanding Officer.

2. Individual equipment required to support a Rescue Swimmer shown below:

a. Wet suit

b. Wraparound mask (with chemlight attached)

c. Snorkel

d. Fins

e. UDT Lifevest

f. Swimmer tending line

g. Swimmer harness, complete with two 4 inch and two 6 inch chemlights, one strobe light, one "J" knife, and one whistle

3. Shipboard Equipment Required (from list in NWP 3-50.1)

a. J-Bar Davit - A hoisting device made of either aluminum or steel, having a maximum outreach of 24 to 60 inches. For rescue operations, the J-bar davit should be equipped with a snatch block (a single-sheaved block with a hinged strap that can be opened and a

Figure 1.5-15 double rescue hook. A cluster of three

SAR Swimmer Equipment chemlights is attached to the equipment ring for

easy identification to the rescue hook at night.

b. Embarkation nets - Shall be long enough to reach the water at the ship's light-load line. The nets shall be rigged with timbers at various intervals, except at the bottom to prevent curling of the nets. To reduce fore and aft movement of the net, two 1 1/2 inch circumference nylon surge lines are used. They should be long enough to suit the freeboard of the ship and have one end attached to the "D" rings at the bottom of the net while the other end is secured to the ship's padeyes. Two 50 lb sand bags are attached to the bottom "D" rings of the net to submerge it beneath the water line. At night adequate number of chemical lights are needed to illuminate the net.

c. Heaving lines - 100 ft long light weight cotton sash cord with a padded monkey fist attached.

d. Swimmer/Survivor tending line - 3/4 inch circumference, 800 lb test propylene line, 300 yards long. The line is reeled on a compact spool.

e. Shears - Heavy duty scissors strong enough to cut thick nylon straps and the aviator's survival equipment.

f. 24-inch lifering

g. V-bladed Knife - Used to cut aircraft harness. The knife blade is protected within the V-shaped holder, and a handle is provided to give the rescue team member better leverage.

h. Portable battle lantern

i. Grapnel hooks - A multiprong steel hook used for recovering aircraft parts.

Figure 1-15-7 Grapnel Hook



j. Boat hook - Six foot wooden staff with a brass hook at one end. Used in SAR operations to retrieve a survivor's parachute.

k. Hand-held megaphone



Figure 1.15-8 SAR swimmer safety harness



l. Safety harness with dynabrake shock absorber - Constructed of several straps which cross at the shoulders, waist, and hips. The harness has a "D" ring located in the center of the back that protrudes through the button hole in the back of the lifejacket.

m. Hatchet

n. Radio set - Battery-operated PRC 90 or Motorola HT 220.

o. Semaphore flags

p. Hand-held signal light with an effective signaling range of two nautical miles, capable of sending up to 12 words a minute.

q. Boarding ladder - A short rope ladder attached to a cleat on the boat so the Rescue Swimmer can climb back aboard.

r. Very Pistol - Used to fire signal flares

s. Portable DC floodlight - A sealed beam lamp powered by four rechargeable batteries. At full charge, the floodlight will provide illumination for three hours.

4. Required SAR Equipment for Rescue Boat

    1. The designated ready lifeboat will be inventoried each morning when the ship is underway. The results shall be reported to the OOD on the 12 O'Clock Reports.




1. The IMRL is a consolidated allowance list specifying authorized quantities of Selected Equipage required for maintaining readiness of an aircraft.

a. Items on the IMRL must be inventoried in July each year.

b. On-hand material shall be reported by IMRL Transaction Report which includes nomenclature, part number, serial number, and quantity.

c. Examples of IMRL are:

(1) Tie down chains

(2) Tow Bar

(3) Information concerning IMRL items can be found in the COSAL and identified as such in the AEL (Allowance Equipage List).

2. New constructions shall send an initial Transaction Report to COMNAVSURFLANT/PAC at the end of the outfitting period.



1. Safe helicopter launch/recovery operations require strict adherence to prescribed wind and deck limitations for the type of helicopter and class of ship involved. Commanding officers should not hesitate to establish more restrictive limitations in the interest of safety. For day/night and Instrument Flight Rule (IFR) launches and recoveries, or recoveries of helicopters with malfunctioning stabilization equipment, compliance with Figure 1.15-1 is mandatory, if not in receipt of a specific launch/recovery wind envelope diagram.

WARNING: To avoid the possibility of loss or damage to the helicopter, the ship shall not change course or speed during launch/recovery, during rotor engagement/disengagement, or at any time the aircraft is not tied down. Emergency conditions may preclude adherence to the above, in which case the pilot must be notified immediately.

2. Wind limitations for rotor engagement/disengagement are provided in Appendix B of NWP

3-04.1. The probability of damage increases sharply when wind gusts exceed 10 knots. The maximum safe nonturbulent wind, in conjunction with excessive ship pitch and/or roll, can make operations with helicopters hazardous and should be taken into consideration prior to launch/recovery.

a. Common sources of turbulence are:

1. Stack gases/wash

2. Ship superstructures

3. Deck protrusions

4. Rotor wash caused by takeoff and landing of adjacent helicopters

3. Launch/recovery wind limits are provided in Appendix B of NWP 3-04.1. When the limits for a particular combination of helicopter and ship are not provided, the envelope shown in Figure 1.15-1 (Figure B-1 from NWP 3-04.1) is mandatory. In high winds and sea conditions, a downwind heading may provide a more stable platform and optimum relative wind conditions.

a. Note - Helicopter aligned with ship's lineup line and wind shown relative to aircraft's nose. For H-3 aircraft, wind over the deck shall be sufficient to provide Hover Out of Ground Effect (HOGE) capacity.

b. Note - Entire envelope - day operations.

c. Note - Shaded area - night operations.

d. Note - This wind envelope is mandatory for all helicopter and ship combinations not listed elsewhere in the appendix.



4. Considerable difference exists between the flight deck winds and those measured by bridge anemometers. Because of the direct influence of the superstructure, flight deck/VERTREP platform winds are usually far more gusty and turbulent than those at the bridge.

5. To afford the pilot (who sits in the right-hand seat) a good visual reference to the ship, all efforts will be made to use port winds. Normally the OOD will select a course that will place the relative wind on the port bow, which provides the pilot of an approaching helicopter with the proper aspect for acquiring visual references, such as markings and lighting, and the superstructure's configuration and location.

6. If the ship is conducting night VERTREP operations, one or more of the following three

conditions must be met:

a. A natural horizon is present

b. The ships are alongside in CONREP position

c. The drop/pickup zone of the ship to be worked is clearly visible from the aircraft’s cockpit when over the drop/pickup zone of the transferring/receiving ship.


1. A standard checklist is provided in NWP 3-04.1 Appendix A. Each ship shall tailor the list to its particular equipment and any other relevant operating considerations.

2. Checklists shall be completed prior to making "manned and ready" reports.

3. The guidance provided includes checklists for the following stations:

a. OOD - Checklist covers shiphandling requirements, communications procedures, and a time line for actions to be accomplished at Flight Quarters.

b. CIC - Like the bridge checklist, the CIC list gives a detailed time line of actions; intelligence briefs, tactical considerations, and rescue communications are included.

c. Helicopter Control/Flight Deck Officer - this checklist provides guidance for on-scene actions required of flight deck personnel. Includes stationing the Crash and Salvage crew, performing a flight deck Foreign Object Damage (FOD) walkdown, and procedures for establishing communications with the bridge, CIC, and the incoming helicopter.

d. Recovery Checklist - covers the steps required to bring the helicopter on deck after the HCO has visual contact and positive control.

4. Appendix A includes a sample brief sheet for flight operations.