By Eric Edinger

Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) completed its flight deck certification (FDC) Jan. 25, 2023.

IKE is preparing for its 2023 deployment by completing FDC, Carrier Air Traffic Control Center (CATCC) certification, and conducting carrier qualifications with Carrier Air Wing 3, Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW-120), and Chief of Naval Air Training.

IKE’s completion of FDC enables the crew to accomplish their primary mission of launching and recovering aircraft.

“This underway, we are starting with the Flight Deck Cert and CATCC cert,” said Cmdr. George Zintak, IKE’s Air Boss. “After that, we go into CQ for CVW-3 then VAW-120 and, finally, CNATRA.”

FDC was a two-day evolution. On day one, IKE was required to complete 50 arrested landings with simulated emergencies, night taxi drills, and hangar spotting drills. Day two involved 70 arrested landings and 40 nighttime arrested landings to complete FDC.
FDC is an essential part of getting the IKE ready for deployment, according to Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Anthony Morrison.

“Without FDC, we can’t operate. We can’t [punish] bad guys. We can’t do our job, and this ship can’t do what it was designed to do,” said Morrison. “We started with the basics, taxiing aircraft and parking aircraft. Then we moved on to another level where we began to launch and recover aircraft.”

The FDC came with its own challenges for a crew that is coming out of a year-long period in the shipyard and has seen a large number of its experienced crew replaced by inexperienced Sailors, according to Morrison.

“We have a low number of yellow shirts qualified, so it’s more stress on the guys who are qualified,” said Morrison. “It’s challenging. If we have guys that are green, then we need to watch them more because of the dangerous environment that we operate in.”

Despite these challenges, the crew is motivated and ready to execute the mission of IKE, according to Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Enoch Haas.

“We have a great bunch of people; a very motivated and enthusiastic crew,” said Haas. “We are ready to rock and roll.”