USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) completed its 17th Independent Steaming Event (ISE 17) after two weeks at sea in the Atlantic Ocean, March 21, 2021.
During ISE 17, Ford accomplished carrier qualifications (CQ) for Fleet pilots and student naval aviators (SNAs), conducted Combat Systems Ship’s Qualification Trials (CSSQT) phase 2A, and integrated carrier strike group operations. During the first portion of ISE 17, Ford contributed to fleet readiness by conducting CQ for 14 pilots assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 122 and three pilots assigned to Carrier Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 124. The carrier landings, or “traps”, during ISE 17 CQ periods increased Ford’s current trap count to 7,879 utilizing the ship’s first-in-class advanced arresting gear.
“This underway period has been fantastic for me and the crew. We really did the job with incredible precision and an extra level of complexity – the crew of Warship 78 managed multiple high priority events as a team and was able to meet our mission requirements every single day. It was a special honor to demonstrate the crew’s excellence for the Acting Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Thomas W. Walker” said Capt. Paul Lanzilotta, Ford’s commanding officer (CO).
“We used precision landing mode for this FRS CQ but not with the T-45’s. T-45s was all manual passes, so we are getting used to a different way of flying. What is different is the whole entire arrested landing gear system, just getting used to that stuff and relying on the engineers that do their job, which they have,” said Lt. j.g. Kyle Briggs.
Ford’s combat systems department completed phase 2A of CSSQT, a Naval Sea Systems Command requirement for ships that are either new construction or have undergone a significant combat systems upgrade. During the qualification trials, the close-in weapons system (CIWS) fired 1,500 rounds of ammunition and successfully engaged a low-cost modular target. Combat systems department Sailors also conducted 349 hours of routine maintenance on seven defensive weapon systems, to groom them for CSSQT phase 2C. SNAs assigned to Chief, Naval Air Training Command (TRACOM) also conducted CQ to complete required training to earn their “wings of gold”. Ford has qualified 167 SNAs since March 2020, including 28 during ISE 17. Wrapping up ISE 17, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12 Commander, and warfare commanders embarked aboard Ford to execute integrated carrier strike group operations.
Over a one week period they conducted an encounter exercise with USS Stout (DDG 55), an expendable mobile anti-submarine warfare exercise with the “Spartans” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 70, and an emissions control exercise lead by the Information Warfare Commander. Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is in port Naval Station Norfolk for a scheduled window of opportunity for maintenance as part of her post-delivery test and trials phase of operations, and is on schedule for full ship shock trials later this year. The Gerald R. Ford class is a class of nuclear powered aircraft carriers currently being constructed for the United States Navy. The class with a planned total of ten ships will replace the Navy’s current carriers on a one-for-one basis, starting with the lead ship, Gerald R. Ford replacing Enterprise (CVN-65), and then eventually taking the place of the existing Nimitz-class carriers.