Seaman Andrew Roysdon uses a sound powered phone as USS Essex (LHD 2) transits the San Diego Bay, June 19. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Donavan K. Patubo)

SAN DIEGO - The Wasp-class multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) departed her homeport of San Diego, June 19 to recertify the ship after its maintenance availability.

Essex has undergone more than a year of planned maintenance availability and is now testing its systems to return it to warfighting condition.

“While operating off the coast of Southern California, Essex will be conducting 17 major evolutions to include certifications in amphibious and air operations and testing of the engineering and navigation capabilities,” said Lt. Natalie May, assistant operations officer. “The training and testing done during this underway will help the ship's mission capability after a long yard period.”

The evolutions planned include air operations, fuel certifications and steering testing. Accomplishing these tasks will allow Essex to receive aircraft on board and become mission ready.

“By keeping a steady strain on training, Essex is able to execute the mission anywhere in the world,” said May. “We expect to perform each evolution safely and successfully.”

The Sailors of Essex are working hard to fulfill the requirements of the sea trials so the ship will be ready for its upcoming schedule. Aviation fuels division recently passed their Afloat Training Group (ATG) inspection and are ready to take their expertise out to sea.

"It feels great to be back underway, and passing these fuel certifications is a vital part of this upcoming evolution,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) 1st Class Joshua Torres. "If we don’t get certified, we cannot take on aircraft and Essex cannot do its mission. We’ll succeed because when we are in our element, it’s what we do."

Essex plans to complete its underway trials within four weeks and will return to its homeport of San Diego to receive final maintenance actions before returning to sea later this year.

"These certifications are a vital part to our mission readiness and give the crew a chance to show off all of their hard work" said Capt. Jason Burns, Essex's commanding officer. "Essex Sailors are a team of dedicated professionals and I know they are looking forward to this opportunity to work together to show Essex's ability to meet the nation's tasking."