USS Essex (LHD 2) transits San Diego Bay, May 3. (U.S. Navy)

SAN DIEGO - The Wasp-class multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) returned to sea May 3 for sea trials, marking the end of a post-deployment planned maintenance availability, which began in March 2016.

“More than two years of detailed planning and close coordination with both uniformed and civilian partners has enabled Essex to begin sea trials a day ahead of schedule and under budget,” said Essex’s Commanding Officer, Capt. Brian Quin. “It has been a complete team effort to do all this so well.”

Sea trials are held after any large PMA period involving major construction or reconstruction of a ship. During this time, the ship’s systems and equipment will be subjected to rigorous testing and evaluation. These evolutions include anchor drop tests, steering tests and testing of the ship’s aqueous film-forming foam system, which is one of the ship’s fire-fighting sprinkler systems.

“These sea trials are imperative to ensure the quality of work during the PMA is beneficial and to identify any potential issues to be addressed upon our return to San Diego,” said Senior Chief Intelligence Specialist Dwayne Edmonds.

Along with testing the ship’s equipment, this time at sea is used to test the ship’s crew. Sailors will conduct and be evaluated on a series of assessments, including firefighting, boat recovery man overboard drills, and weapons qualifications.

Many of the crew members said they were excited to be finished with the availability and anxious to test the ship's capabilities.

“I’m so excited right now,” said Personnel Specialist Seaman Kaleb Smith. “I feel like this is a great time to not only work on my technical skills in my rating, but also take part in the ship-wide evolutions and drills.”

Quin was impressed with his ship and the crew who carried her out to sea once again. "I could not be prouder of this fine ship and the outstanding Sailors who tirelessly work to give her life. It is good to be at sea again where the mighty Essex belongs," said Quin.