Sailors aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68) prepare an F/A-18E Super Hornet from the Blue Diamonds of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 146 for launch, Dec. 8. (U.S. Navy/Seaman David Claypool)

PACIFIC OCEAN - Aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Sailors successfully completed Tailored Ship's Training Availability and Final Evaluation Problem (TSTA/FEP) Dec. 8, completing the ship's 180-day, Inter-deployment Training Cycle Basic Phase in only 54 days.

TSTA/FEP was completed in a total of 30 in-port and underway days, a major step toward Nimitz becoming certified for its upcoming 2017 deployment.

According to Cmdr. Wilbert Wafford, Afloat Training Group (ATG) Pacific training liaison officer, Nimitz completed basic phase with an overall score of 97 percent.

TSTA is the final part of a ship's Basic Phase Training Cycle, which includes Command Assessment of Readiness and Training (CART) II, and TSTA in-port. It is the first step in proving a crew's readiness for Composite Training Exercise (COMPTUEX) and other exercises which test a ship's proficiency before deployment.

"It's hard to tell this crew was in the yards for 21 months straight," said Capt. John Ring, commanding officer of Nimitz. "They are performing exceptionally, and I couldn't be more proud of this ship and its crew."

TSTA/FEP exercises most major warfare areas aboard, including damage control, engineering, navigation, deck, combat systems, air, safety, intelligence, supply, operations, and security. It also integrates the air wing in order to build proficiency on the flight deck.

To assess the crew, ATG inspectors review different Training Assessment Cards (TACs) with the crew to inspect their performance on pertinent tactical functions.

The TSTA/FEP drills are designed to test the crew, watchstanders, and the integration of various entities throughout Nimitz. Successful completion proves to ATG the ship is ready to move on to more intricate training in the ship's work-up cycle.

Although the different warfare areas were tested on their individual roles and most of the scenarios affected a small portion of the crew at a time, there were major evolutions such as man overboard, abandon ship, and general quarters drills which tested every Sailor aboard as a whole.

After the completion of TSTA, Nimitz and her crew moved onto FEP, the final stage of the Basic Phase Training Cycle.

"FEP is the culmination of basic phase training, and evaluates the ship's ability to conduct combat missions, support functions, and survive complex casualty control situations," said Lt. Cmdr. Derek S. Waisanen, Nimitz's training officer. "FEP provides ATG the opportunity to evaluate 'Team Nimitz's' readiness, as well as its ability to sustain readiness through self-training."

The crew of Nimitz has continually shown the ability to accomplish a condensed work-up cycle and look ahead to Board of Inspection and Survey and COMPTUEX in the upcoming months, where they will fully integrate with Carrier Strike Group 11, to include Destroyer Squadron 9.

"Successfully executing the basic phase program in 54 days was possible because of the crew's motivation and training leading into the training cycle," said Waisanen. "Training hour and the large number of drills performed in the yard provided a great base to launch our success in the future."