Aircraft carrier USS Dwight D Eisenhower (CVN 69), also called Ike, has begun force protection exercises (FPEX) at Naval Station Norfolk as part of efforts to keep the ship operationally ready.

Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier participated in FPEX, a series of scenario-based drills aimed at testing the responses of the in-port security forces (ISF) and assessing its ability to safeguard the ship and its crew.

Ike Security Officer (SECO) Lieutenant Commander Frederick Wood said: “My team has put in countless hours of training for over six months, not only in preparation for FPEX, but more importantly to be able to provide the best security and safety to Ike’s crew.

“This is the reason we exist and I am more than confident that the blood, sweat and tears that my team has put into this will pay off.”

The Center for Security Forces (CENSECFOR), along with Commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic (CNAL), will evaluate the performance of the ship.

Completion of FPEX is essential for the ship to dock pier-side in foreign ports during deployment.

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Ike watch commander Master-At-Arms 1st Class Timothy Sultzer said: “We’re hoping to see that they can successfully demonstrate the responses that will allow them to keep the ship safe in a foreign port.”

Naval Security Force (NSF) members, such as Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Alexis Lane and ISF counterparts, have carried out daily drills and training for several months in preparation for FPEX.

Lane said: “We’ve been putting a big emphasis on repetition. We run each drill countless times until it becomes second nature.

“Our confidence has definitely built over time. Whether it’s a gate runner, vehicle-borne IED, active shooters or a hostage situation, we’re going to follow the training and respond accordingly.”

Upon completion, the security department will ascertain that the ship is safe and secure, which will bring Ike closer to being operationally ready.