The U.S. Navy Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) departed on an underway, April 24, and is scheduled to conduct three major evolutions – carrier qualifications, Combat Systems Ship Qualification Trials (CSSQT) and student pilot carrier qualifications.
These evolutions and qualifications will play a massive role in sending qualified pilots to the Fleet and will test Abraham Lincoln’s combat systems.
“I’m stoked for this underway,” said Quartermaster Seaman Steven Pettit, a Sailor assigned to the Navigation Department aboard Abraham Lincoln. “There are a lot of exciting things going on while we are at sea, and it is going to be awesome being a part of it.”
The first evolution Abraham Lincoln will conduct is carrier qualifications. Abraham Lincoln will host F/A-18 Super Hornet student pilots from the “Gladiators” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106, as they qualify for landing aboard a carrier. They must complete at least 10 landings during the day and six landings at night in order to qualify. The students must complete 150-200 flight hours in their respective aircraft to have the opportunity to land on the flight deck of a carrier.
“For a lot of the students this is their first time in this type of aircraft, so we have to work at our best level to make sure they land and take off safely,” said Cmdr. David Burmeister, the air boss aboard Abraham Lincoln. “This is going to be my last underway with the ship. It is a bittersweet feeling, but I’m excited to see what the Air Department is going to be able to accomplish in this short period.”
Following carrier qualifications, Abraham Lincoln’s Combat Systems Department will conduct CSQQT, a major test of the ship’s defense systems. Abraham Lincoln will fire two Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAM) and one NATO Sea Sparrow missile. This is the first time since Abraham Lincoln’s mid-life Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH) maintenance period that these systems will be operationally tested.
Combat Systems will load and fire the two missiles at a target, and in the event that the missiles miss, the Close-in Weapons System (CIWS) will shoot the target from close range.
“We shoot the CWIS almost every underway, but the Navy as a whole only shoots off a couple of NATO missiles every few years,” said Firecontrolman 2nd Class Matthew Miller. “I am extremely excited to get to be a part of this evolution.”
During the last stretch of the underway, student pilots from the “Eagles” of Advanced Jet Training Squadron (VT) 7, the “Tigers” of VT-9, the “Redhawks” of VT-21 and the “Golden Eagles” of VT-22 will fly aboard to finish their final flight qualifications. The qualifications require pilots to successfully complete 10 arrested landings and four touch-and-go landings on Abraham Lincoln’s 1,092-foot flight deck.
“It is awesome knowing that when we are done the Fleet will have more qualified pilots to complete the mission of the Navy,” said Burmeister.
Following these evolutions, Abraham Lincoln will be another step closer to full mission readiness. The next step for Abraham Lincoln will be Tailored Ships Training Availability (TSTA) and Final Evaluation Problem (FEP) as the ship further prepares for deployment in 2019.
Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Shane Bryan, USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72)