PHILIPPINE SEA - The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 completed carrier qualifications, June 2.
During this period, Theodore Roosevelt qualified pilots from the “Tomcatters” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31, “Golden Warriors” of VFA-87, “Blue Diamonds” of VFA-146, “Black Knights” of VFA-154, “Liberty Bells” of Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 115, “The Gray Wolves” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 142, and the "Providers" of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30.
The "Eightballers" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 8, and the “Wolf Pack” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 75 also worked with the ship in support of carrier qualification operations.
“It is very gratifying to be able to return to our primary mission in the Indo-Pacific,” said Capt. Steve Jaureguizar, commander, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11. “The carrier air wing joined together with the carrier is the bedrock of naval aviation and power projection.”
Carrier qualifications are a time for naval aviators to refine their skills practiced during field carrier landing practice (FCLP) for sustained operations at sea aboard the aircraft carrier. Carrier qualifications fortified the operational relationship between CVW-11 and the Theodore Roosevelt.
“It felt great to get back in the cockpit and launch from the catapult while at sea,” said Lt. William Leagon, a naval aviator assigned to VAQ 142. “As a naval aviator this is what we signed up to do and it’s really exciting to get back to business.”
Theodore Roosevelt and CVW-11 are on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to provide maritime security, maintain freedom of the seas in accordance with international law and customs, and operate with international partners and allies to promote regional stability and prosperity.
Completing carrier qualification was the last milestone in returning Theodore Roosevelt to sea as a ready, credible naval asset capable of projecting power over the horizon.
“You can see and feel the excitement around the ship as we have returned to flight operations,” said Capt. Carlos Sardiello, Theodore Roosevelt's commanding officer. “It is very rewarding for all Sailors involved to exercise their skill set and see the TR back in action.”
Prior to completion of carrier qualifications CVW-11 completed FCLP at Andersen Air Force Base (AFB) to prepare pilots for underway operations. Completion of FCLP ensures that pilots have the requisite day and night practice for operations at sea aboard the carrier.
Theodore Roosevelt is the nation’s fourth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier with a crew of nearly 5,000 Sailors who support and conduct air operations at sea. Theodore Roosevelt departed San Diego for a scheduled Indo-Pacific deployment January 17.