|YOKOSUKA, Japan -- Americas
only permanently forward deployed aircraft carrier returned to Yokosuka, Japan, March 6
after completing 12 days of sea trials and carrier qualifications.
USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) departed Yokosuka Feb. 23
and rendezvoused at sea with Carrier Air Wing 5, which operates from Naval Air Facility
During this underway period, the Hawk/Five team
tested everything from the newly revamped flight deck to the refurbished boilers in
engineering. They also put the crews capabilities to the test during several
general quarters, man overboard and fire drills.
"Were like a knife-edge that dulls over
time in port," said Capt. Matthew Tuohy, Kitty Hawks commanding officer.
"We came out and did this and we honed that edge back to razor-sharp, like it was
when we came off the last deployment. And now were sitting exactly where we
need to be."
Kitty Hawk returned from a no-notice, six-month
deployment to the Arabian Gulf in August. The Hawk/Five team participated in
Exercises Foal Eagle with the Republic of Korean and ANNUALEX 11-G with Japan, returning
Nov. 10. The ship had been in port conducting maintenance until it got underway Feb.
23 for the current set of sea trials.
During the sea trials, flight deck crews launched and
recovered more than 1,100 launches and recoveries of CVW-5 aircraft.
Matthew Munn, a naval flight officer from Woodbridge,
Va., who flies with VAQ-136, could tell that a lot of people still needed training at
first, but the unfamiliarity was short-lived, he said.
"After that, everything ran really smoothly
because everybody got back into the flow of things and everyone was learning their
job," he said. "These last couple of days, the flight deck crew averaged
160 traps in a four to five-hour period."
As the planes were taking off and landing, V-2
Divisions Aviation Boatswains Mate 2nd Class Tanya Howe, from Buckeye, Ariz.,
was one of many people operating the bow catapults. She said the at-sea period was
stressful, but it was also a good learning experience.
"There was a lot of maintenance, but it was all
part of getting the bugs out," she said.
Kitty Hawk Sailors also used the sea trials as an
opportunity to run general quarters drills which tests the ability to combat fires,
flooding and battle damage. Drills focused on repair locker manning and setting
material conditions Zebra and Yoke, which help maintain the ships watertight
"The purpose of (setting Zebra) was to take a
look at where all our watertight doors and other Zebra fittings are and what their
conditions are," said Bloomington, Ind., native Cmdr. Tony Smith, Kitty Hawks
control teams also fought simulated fires, "So each of the repair lockers, with all
of their new people, could say, heres what our new positions are and this is
what we need to be thinking about," said Smith.
In addition to general quarters, the crew
participated in other types of training, like mass casualty drills, main engineering space
fire drills and flooding drills. "We started with the basic drills to make sure
the new people are getting the basics they need to do what is expected of them,"
Smith said. "Then well build on the complexity of the drills and the
level of knowledge. So by October or November, when were going for our final
evaluation, well be able to perform at a level which is advanced full battle
While Hawks crew was being trained and tested,
the ships equipment got a workout of its own. Hawks boilers went through
a five-year inspection while in port that involved removing internal components, cleaning,
inspecting and replacing various parts. During this underway period, the
machinists mates gave the boilers a shakedown.
"Our boilers performed well," said
Machinists Mate 2nd Class Michael Roberson, of P-4 Division. "A month
ago, the boiler was laying all over the space, and now it does everything its
supposed to do."
P-4 had some new faces in their division, but
according to Roberson, they had positive attitudes about their jobs. "Our
division did just fine," he said. "There were long hours with (general
quarters) and main space fire drills, but a lot of training was accomplished."
There were also new faces throughout the ship
many of whom were underway for the first time. "It was a little scary at
first," said Mess Management Specialist Seaman Angela Morado, from San Diego.
"The first time I saw the ship, it was so overwhelming." But Morado said
she settled into her role aboard Kitty Hawk and is now ready for the challenge that awaits
her in the upcoming spring deployment.
The commanding officer noticed how well the new
Sailors were integrating into the crew and how well the team was coming together.
"From my perspective, looking on the flight deck or walking through engineering,
its very difficult to tell who the new people are and who the old people are,"
Tuohy said. "The ship and crew performed absolutely magnificently. The
performance and the workmanship of the machinery that we maintained during the last yard
period, coupled with the performance of the people operating that equipment at sea really
proved that this is the way to run an aircraft carrier!"