The US Navy's Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) has set sail to perform fleet replacement squadron (FRS) carrier qualifications (CQ) off the coast of Southern California.
The tests will see the aircraft carrier operate with the navy’s Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 122, based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore, and the Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129 at NAS Whidbey Island.
USS Carl Vinson will also conduct qualifications operations with the Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30 and the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 4.
Carl Vinson Air Operations officer commander Joshua Hammond noted that carrier qualification enables a vessel to practise launch and recovery aircraft operations, while helping new aircrew members to qualify for aircraft carrier duties.
Hammond said: “Being at sea for FRS CQ gives us practice at what we do on deployment: launching and recovering aircraft.
“We can't always be underway with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, so these operations help us stay sharp and hone our craft, while helping new pilots gain proficiency.”
Hammond added: “CQs allow fleet replacement squadrons to get pilots carrier qualified, so they can join their fleet squadrons.
“Some are brand new and have never flown fleet aircraft. Some are transitioning aircraft or are requalifying in their original aircraft.
"Practicing launching and recovering from Carl Vinson will be their last step before going to a fleet squadron.”
Hammond further added that the carrier qualification operations will not only prove to be beneficial for USS Carl Vinson and the squadrons, but for the entire fleet.
Some of the qualified aviators will be deployed into the fleet to join their squadrons, while other may be assigned to USS Carl Vinson's air wing when the ship departs for its next journey.
Image: An E/A-18G Growler assigned to the ‘Vikings’ of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129 launches from USS Carl Vinson. Photo: courtesy of US Navy by midshipman 3rd Class Noah P. Rodman / Released.