Third Optimized Fleet Response Plan Carrier Strike Group Returns Home

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By Rear Adm. Bruce Lindsey
Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic

After completing a seven-month deployment in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operations in support of maritime theater security operations and flying missions supporting Operation Inherent Resolve over the skies of Iraq and Syria, the ships and squadrons of the USS George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group returned safely home.

Thousands of friends and family members lined the piers of Naval Station Norfolk to welcome home more than 6,000 strike group Sailors! More than 300 Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 aircrew flew home to cheering, flag-waving crowds in Norfolk, Oceana, Mayport and Whidbey Island.

While deployed, CVW-8 and USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) launched 11,437 sorties, completed 1,924 combat missions. With flawless execution the aviators successfully delivered 1,717 pieces of ordnance on target with devastating lethality. By the end of the deployment, our aviators logged an amazing 30,873 flight hours and 7,868 arrested landings. These impressive numbers set post-Desert Storm records for any CVN/CVW team.

This deployment is yet another example of the pivotal role naval aviation plays in our national defense. As the U.S. Navy’s ‘Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority’ states, we have the mission to “conduct PROMPT and SUSTAINED combat power from and at sea, necessary to fight and win decisively in contested and denied environments against our enemies.” That is exactly what the men and women of CVW-8 and the strike group accomplished on deployment. The team delivered a devastating blow to the capabilities of ISIS, allowing our partners on the battlefield to employ a strategic initiative to retake large swaths of land in Northern Iraq and Syria.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 8, 2017) The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) operate in formation during exercise Saxon Warrior 2017. The United States and United Kingdom co-hosted carrier strike group exercise demonstrates interoperability and capability to respond to crises and deter potential threats. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael B. Zingaro/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 8, 2017) The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) operate in formation during exercise Saxon Warrior 2017. The United States and United Kingdom co-hosted carrier strike group exercise demonstrates interoperability and capability to respond to crises and deter potential threats. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael B. Zingaro/Released)

I have written several blog posts about how our carriers benefit from the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP). OFRP is designed to maximize our return on training and maintenance investments, to maintain Sailor quality of life and ensure units are fully employable and deployable. By the time the strike group deployed, it was at the peak of readiness and this was clearly demonstrated through their record-setting accomplishments.

With USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) now at Norfolk Naval Shipyard to begin her maintenance phase, the first phase of the four-part OFRP cycle, George H.W. Bush enters the post deployment portion of its sustainment phase to maintain her combat readiness in order to be prepared to deploy fully ready combat forces if required by our Nation.

While George H.W. Bush is in her sustainment phase, CVW-8 will also be in sustainment. For the air wing, this means several underway periods to maintain their carrier qualification requirements, maintain their aircraft at optimum performance levels and provide continuous training in combat flight operations and maintenance.

Meeting these standards will allow CVW-8 to effectively remain combat ready around the clock in the event the president of the United States decides they need to surge an additional carrier strike group.

This will be a challenge, but I have every confidence that the George H. W. Bush Carrier Strike Group team will not only meet but also exceed our leadership’s standards and expectations.

Finally, I send my strongest congratulations to entire carrier strike group for your tireless efforts and commitment to the Navy’s standard of excellence. Bravo Zulu, well done and welcome home!

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 18, 2017) Sailors assigned to the "Tomcatters" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31 celebrate as the squadron flies over the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). The ship and its carrier strike group were transiting home from a scheduled seven-month deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matt Matlage/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 18, 2017) Sailors assigned to the “Tomcatters” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31 celebrate as the squadron flies over the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). The ship and its carrier strike group were transiting home from a scheduled seven-month deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matt Matlage/Released)


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Third Optimized Fleet Response Plan Carrier Strike Group Returns Home

First CVN to Complete an OFRP Cycle: Ike enters Norfolk Navy Shipyards for maintenance and modernization to start her second OFRP Cycle

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By Rear Admiral Bruce H. Lindsey
Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) transited from Naval Station Norfolk to the Norfolk Naval Shipyards on Aug. 5 to begin her second Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP) Maintenance Phase. Her first OFRP Sustainment Phase is now complete, and after much success supporting the fleet, the ship will now undergo maintenance and modernization.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (Aug. 5, 2017) The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) transits the Elizabeth River during the ship's transit to Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released)
PORTSMOUTH, Va. (Aug. 5, 2017) The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) transits the Elizabeth River during the ship’s transit to Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released)

What an amazing job Ike and her crew did during the second portion of her Sustainment Phase, which came directly on the heels of a combat deployment that lasted from June 1 to December 30, 2016. During her seven months of post deployment Sustainment Phase, Ike maintained its ability to deploy fully combat ready within 30 days or less. Twice during this period, the carrier was called upon to execute a Fleet Synthetic Exercise – Sustainment (FST-S) and an at-sea Sustainment Exercise (SUSTEX) that included an Integrated Live Fire (ILF) event. These two exercises demonstrated Ike’s ability to deploy and conduct integrated planning and execution of at-sea combat operations. To accomplish this, every department aboard the ship had to be at the top of their game and constantly maintain the highest standards of readiness for months on end.

As any Sailor can tell you, maintaining this level of readiness for an aircraft carrier, let alone an entire carrier strike group, is no easy task. Between seven underway periods to conduct carrier qualification requirements to ensure proficiency and train the next generation of aviators, as well as the integrated sea combat exercises, Ike CSG worked around the clock to stay proficient in the event they were needed by the National Command Authorities.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (Aug. 9, 2017) Aviation Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Sasha Holcomb uses a needle gun to remove the deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Marques M. Franklin/Released)
PORTSMOUTH, Va. (Aug. 9, 2017) Aviation Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Sasha Holcomb uses a needle gun to remove the deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Marques M. Franklin/Released)

In addition to training requirements, we also kept Ike maintained as if she was on deployment. This meant that any time there was an issue with equipment, we jumped on fixing it. We maintained manning levels at deployment levels and kept them there throughout the entire Sustainment Phase.

Now, with USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) scheduled to return from deployment on Aug. 21 and enter into the second half of her Sustainment Phase, Ike’s crew can now focus on the beginning of her second OFRP cycle – a six-month Planned Incremental Availability (PIA) in which Sailors and shipyard workers will work together to upgrade systems and rehabilitate spaces throughout the ship.

The numerous accomplishments of Ike’s Sailors during all phases of her first OFRP cycle have illustrated that OFRP is making a critical difference in the Navy’s ability to generate highly trained and lethal combat forces to meet the threats of today, and the threats of the future.

As Ike begins her second OFRP cycle with her induction into the Maintenance Phase at Norfolk Naval Shipyards, we must ensure OFRP’s four functions of:

  1. Rotating the force
  2. Surging the force if required
  3. Maintaining and modernizing the force
  4. Resetting the force in stride such that the fleet remains operationally ready to respond to world events.
ATLANTIC OCEAN (June 27, 2017) The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), the guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56), the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Robert E. Perry (T-AKE 5) transit the Atlantic Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jessica L. Dowell/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (June 27, 2017) The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), the guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56), the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Robert E. Perry (T-AKE 5) transit the Atlantic Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jessica L. Dowell/Released)


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First CVN to Complete an OFRP Cycle: Ike enters Norfolk Navy Shipyards for maintenance and modernization to start her second OFRP Cycle

USS Harry S. Truman Returns to Norfolk following Early Completion of Maintenance and Sea Trials

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By Rear Adm. Bruce Lindsey
Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic

This week, Naval Station Norfolk welcomed USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) back to the waterfront, early. Truman returned Tuesday, two days ahead of schedule from her Planned Incremental Availability (PIA) at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) after a very successful five days of underway evolutions during Sea Trials.

NORFOLK (JULY 25, 2017) Sailors assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), handle mooring lines from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), as Harry S. Truman pulls into Naval Station Norfolk after completing sea trials (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jessica Paulauskas/Released)
NORFOLK (JULY 25, 2017) Sailors assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), handle mooring lines from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), as Harry S. Truman pulls into Naval Station Norfolk after completing sea trials (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jessica Paulauskas/Released)
NORFOLK (July 25, 2017) The superstructures of the aircraft carriers USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), right, and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) are close together during Harry S. Truman's transit into port. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anthony Flynn/Released)
NORFOLK (July 25, 2017) The superstructures of the aircraft carriers USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), right, and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) are close together during Harry S. Truman’s transit into port. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anthony Flynn/Released)

For Truman’s crew and her shipyard partners, the conclusion of this maintenance period signifies the completion of 10 months of teambuilding, hard work and coordination between workforces, ultimately making the ship better today than it was when it first arrived in the yards back in September 2016.

A new pier, hundreds of additional craftsmen and efforts in modernization of shipyard equipment at NNSY have vastly contributed to the efficiency of work performed by shipyard personnel. Investments made by NNSY in more technologically advanced machinery have improved the shipyard’s productivity factor by reducing numerous job completion times from days to mere hours. For example, new, fully automated pipe-bending and gasket-cutting machines have greatly cut-down repair timelines and helped to contribute to Truman’s early completion of her scheduled maintenance.

Completing PIA early, however, was just the first step in preparing Truman for future operations. Sea Trials tested the ability of the crew and ship to operate at sea and both performed beyond expectations. During the five-day underway period, the CVN-75 team conducted more than 300 hours of shipboard evolutions including: small boat recoveries, testing Aqueous Film-Forming Foam sprinkler systems, making high speed turns, running its steam catapults, and holding a simulated replenishment-at-sea alongside USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE 13).

ATLANTIC OCEAN (July 21, 2017) An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter, assigned to the "Red Hawks" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 2 prepares to land on the flight deck aboard aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) as the ship transits out to sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Rebekah Watkins/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (July 21, 2017) An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter, assigned to the “Red Hawks” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 2 prepares to land on the flight deck aboard aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) as the ship transits out to sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Rebekah Watkins/Released)

These accomplishments are of staggering importance, not just for the crew aboard Truman, but for the Navy as a whole. It is yet another success story in our implementation of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP). Having the maintenance availabilities of our carriers completed early ensures our forces get the maximum training repetitions and sets (Reps and Sets) necessary to enable our carrier strike groups to be fully combat ready to deploy on time.

Truman’s early completion of its maintenance availability and its successful performance during sea trials means that this capital warship is one step closer to doing what carriers do: conducting prompt and sustained combat operations from the sea. This isn’t just a win for Truman. It’s a win for our Navy and a win for our country. It means our carrier force, and our fleet as a whole, is more ready to deliver sea control and combat striking power anywhere, anytime our nation requires us to do so.

When you look at our waterfront today, you can’t help but see the present and future represented by our carrier fleet. For the present, look at USS Abraham Lincoln, that spent the last four years completing her midlife refueling and is now back in the fleet and training for deployment. USS Dwight D. Eisenhower has been the workhorse of the waterfront since returning, Dec. 31, 2016, from her combat deployment, keeping our carrier pilots current by launching and recovering thousands of aircraft throughout her seven-month sustainment phase. The future can be seen in the form of USS Gerald R. Ford, our newest and most technologically advanced carrier as well as USS George Washington, which is ready to begin her midlife refueling this August.

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (June 23, 2017) An F/A-18F Super Hornet attached to the "Blacklions" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213 is fully loaded with 10 GBU-32 1,000 pound bombs aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Hank Gettys/Released)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA (June 23, 2017) An F/A-18F Super Hornet attached to the “Blacklions” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213 is fully loaded with 10 GBU-32 1,000 pound bombs aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Hank Gettys/Released)

With USS George H. W. Bush wrapping up an extremely successful combat deployment that supported the liberation of Mosul, our carriers continue to demonstrate the maneuverability, adaptability and strength of the United States Navy. And with Truman’s early return to the waterfront, our Navy will continue to protect America’s prosperity and security far from our Nation’s shorelines and face the future with the same pride and determination that we have displayed since Congress approved the construction of our first six frigates.


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USS Harry S. Truman Returns to Norfolk following Early Completion of Maintenance and Sea Trials

USS Gerald R. Ford Ushers in New Age of Technology and Innovation

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By Rear Adm. Bruce Lindsey
Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic

On July 22, the U.S. Navy will commission the nation’s newest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78). For the first time in more than 40 years, in a ceremony certain to be memorable, the Navy will commission the lead ship of a new class of aircraft carriers.

NEWPORT NEWS (April 8, 2017) The future USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) underway on its own power for the first time. The first-of-class ship – the first new U.S. aircraft carrier design in 40 years – will spend several days conducting builder's sea trials, a comprehensive test of many of the ship's key systems and technologies. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ridge Leoni/Released)
NEWPORT NEWS (April 8, 2017) The future USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) underway on its own power for the first time. The first-of-class ship – the first new U.S. aircraft carrier design in 40 years – will spend several days conducting builder’s sea trials, a comprehensive test of many of the ship’s key systems and technologies. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ridge Leoni/Released)

How will the fleet’s incorporation of the Gerald R. Ford class add to the already impressive combat power supplied by the nation’s 10 Nimitz-class aircraft carriers?

Gerald R. Ford will leverage design changes from bow to stern and from keel to mast, enabling ships of the class to fly today’s carrier aircraft with improved efficiency and ready to accommodate future manned aircraft and unmanned aerial systems.

With the Gerald R. Ford’s island scaled down and set farther aft, the flight deck has more usable area than a Nimitz class aircraft carrier, with this improved flight deck geometry, she can provide more efficiently prepare, launch and recover aircraft of today and of the future.

The Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) has replaced the traditional steam-powered catapults of the Nimitz-class. Using stored kinetic energy and solid-state electrical power conversion, EMALS provides greater control and precision when launching aircraft, expanding the ship’s operational capability to launch more types of planes, from heavy strike fighter jets to light unmanned aircraft.

The Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) system will recover aircraft in a wider range of environmental and operational conditions than is currently possible. Like EMALS, AAG will enable the Gerald R. Ford class to operate new air vehicle systems that require capabilities beyond that of today’s Nimitiz class aircraft carriers.

Other design changes provide for the comfort and well-being of the Sailors in the crew, air wing and embarked staffs in Gerald R. Ford. Crew members will find more privacy in redesigned sleeping areas with fewer racks per room and easier access to restroom and shower facilities. Separate spaces hold crew recreation and television viewing areas, providing consistent quiet for sleeping crew members. Wider passageways make travel through the ship more efficient in both peace and combat. Well-equipped gyms enable a variety of exercise routines. Increased air conditioning capacity adds to crew comfort and reduces maintenance caused by high heat and humidity. Even the lighting is better; 44,000 high-efficiency fluorescent T-8 light bulbs produces more light and last nearly twice as long as lighting on a Nimitz-class carrier.

In all, 23 new or modified systems distinguish Gerald R. Ford from aircraft carriers of the Nimitz-class, bringing increased safety, effectiveness and efficiency to the ship’s crew members, flight deck, propulsion system, electric plant, machinery control and integrated warfare systems.

NORFOLK (April 14, 2017) The aircraft carrier Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) pulls into Naval Station Norfolk for the first time. The first-of-class ship - the first new U.S. aircraft carrier design in 40 years - spent several days conducting builder's sea trails, a comprehensive test of many of the ship's key systems and technologies. (U.S. Navy photo by Matt Hildreth courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries/Released)
NORFOLK (April 14, 2017) The aircraft carrier Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) pulls into Naval Station Norfolk for the first time. The first-of-class ship – the first new U.S. aircraft carrier design in 40 years – spent several days conducting builder’s sea trails, a comprehensive test of many of the ship’s key systems and technologies. (U.S. Navy photo by Matt Hildreth courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries/Released)

Following the commissioning of Gerald R. Ford, the Navy will complete the ship’s outfitting and testing and will prepare this lead ship for its first operational deployment – sending the next generation of aircraft carrier capabilities forward in service to the nation. The second ship of the Gerald R. Ford class, future USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), is well along in construction, and the shipbuilder has begun work on the third ship, future USS Enterprise (CVN 80). These aircraft carriers, the most technologically advanced in the world, will serve alongside and complement the 10 ships of the Nimitz class, keeping America’s Navy on the forefront of today’s rapidly-evolving operational environment.

Commissioning of Gerald R. Ford will celebrate the contributions of tens of thousands of active duty Sailors, government civilians, and private sector patriots who envisioned, designed and built the lead ship of a new class of aircraft carriers, unmatched by anything else in the world.

The age of the Ford-class carrier has arrived and I am confident that these ships will continue to push the envelope for technological advancements and enable the United States to not only maintain , but to increase our maritime superiority throughout the world for the next 50 years plus.

Editor’s note: The commissioning ceremony will be webcast starting at 10 a.m. (EDT).


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USS Gerald R. Ford Ushers in New Age of Technology and Innovation

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Commissioning Ceremony

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Welcome to Navy Live blog coverage of the July 22 commissioning of the future USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).

Live video from Naval Station Norfolk, Va., is scheduled to begin 10 a.m. (EST).

President Donald J. Trump will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Susan Ford Bales, Ford’s daughter, serves as the ship’s sponsor.

CVN-78 is the lead ship of the new Gerald R. Ford class of aircraft carrier, the first new class in more than 40 years and will begin the phased replacement of Nimitz-class carriers when the ship is commissioned. The Ford class incorporates advances in technology such as a new reactor plant, propulsion system, electric plant, Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG), machinery control, Dual Band Radar and integrated warfare systems. Compared to Nimitz-class carriers, the Gerald R. Ford-class carriers have more than 23 new or modified systems.

Lt. Cmdr. Gerald R. Ford, Photo Courtesy of Gerald Ford Presidential Library and Museum
Lt. Cmdr. Gerald R. Ford, Photo Courtesy of Gerald Ford Presidential Library and Museum

USS Gerald R. Ford honors the 38th president of the United States and pays tribute to his lifetime of service in the Navy, in the U.S. government and to the nation. During World War II, Ford attained the rank of lieutenant commander in the Navy, serving on the light carrier USS Monterey (CVL 26). Released from active duty in February 1946, Ford remained in the Naval Reserve until 1963. Ford was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1948, where he served until President Nixon tapped him to become Vice President in 1973. Ford became president in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal and served in the country’s highest office from 1974-1977.


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USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Commissioning Ceremony

Worth A Thousand Words: Heave the Line

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Photo: The Navy is launching a new campaign April 1 in honor of National Alcohol Awareness Month called "Keep What You've Earned," designed to encourage responsible drinking among Sailors by focusing on the accomplishments in their Navy careers.

U.S. sailors handle a mooring line aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham as the ship arrives in Funchal, Portugal, March 27, 2013. The Jason Dunham, homeported in Norfolk, Va., is returning home from a deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Deven B. King

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Worth A Thousand Words: Heave the Line