NORFOLK --- USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) successfully completed its Sea Trials April 1.
“Sea Trials was successful well beyond expectations,” said Capt. Kyle Higgins, Ike's commanding officer. “Our investment in our ship paid off and now the real work begins: getting the flight deck certified so we start doing what this warship was built to do - launch and recover aircraft.”
Ike departed Naval Station Norfolk March 28, returning to sea for the first time since August 2017. The ship conducted the Sea Trials off the Virginia coast alongside engineers and shipyard employees from Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY), running through a checklist of evolutions, including conducting small-boat operations, testing countermeasure wash-down systems, executing high-speed turns, and testing catapults.
While shipyard workers tested out systems, Sailors evaluated their readiness to become an operational crew, conducting numerous drills to test their mettle in various areas such as damage control, deck seamanship and flight deck operations.
Additionally, Sea Trials allowed the crew to encounter real-life scenarios while navigating the open ocean, something that is hard to replicate while in port.
"These five days made our bridge teams much more proficient and allowed us to carefully evaluate our strengths and weaknesses so we can continue to improve,” said Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin Sanders, Ike’s assistant navigator.
The five-day event required coordination from the entire ship, with maintenance-heavy departments like engineering taking on an increased workload in order to ensure the ship’s systems were operational.
“I think a successful Sea Trials had a lot to do with coordination from all of engineering department and its divisions,” said Machinist Mate 1st Class Robert Howard, from San Diego. “We spent our availability period planning, training and working day in and day out for this moment and when it came, we executed.”
With Sea Trials complete, Ike begins the basic phase of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP). From there the training becomes more focused and intense, Higgins also said.
"We still have a long way to go, but with sea trials behind us, we are motivated to charge forward,” he said. “We will continue to train and strive to be better, to be greater each day.”
Carrier Strike Group 10, also known as the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, includes the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Dwight D, Eisenhower (CVN 69), the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers USS Monterey (CG 61), USS San Jacinto (CG 56), and USS Vella Gulf (CG 72); the ships and staff of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26; and the squadrons and staff of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3.