Friday, March 04, 2011

Makin Island Becomes First West Coast Ship to Embark Osprey

An MV-22 Osprey assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 166 lands aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8). This is the first landing by an Osprey on a west coast amphibious assault ship since being introduced to the fleet. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist John Lill/Released)
By Chief Mass Communication Specialist John Lill, USS Makin Island Public Affairs

PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- USS Makin Island (LHD 8) became the first west coast ship to conduct flight deck operations with the MV-22 Osprey on Mar. 1.

The MV-22 Osprey is a tilt rotor aircraft flown by the U.S. Marine Corps, which utilizes vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL). Until recently, the MV-22 has seen limited use aboard large deck ships due to its unique design and the modifications required for large deck amphibious ships.

Senior Chief Aviation Boatswain Mate (Handling) Ken Murray, the Air Department flight deck leading chief petty officer, spoke of the challenges encountered and steps the department took to prepare for this evolution.

"We were given just over a week's notice that this was going to happen and had only four personnel who had prior experience directing an Osprey onto a flight deck. Fortunately, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 166, is based out of MCAS Miramar, so we were able to coordinate a hands-on training with all our personnel at the air station and also speak to subject matter experts at Afloat Training Group (ATG)," stated Murray.

Aviation Boatswain Mate Handling (ABH) 2nd Class (SW) Mark Anthony Padrigo, who participated in the training, hadn't directed an Osprey since 2003 while stationed aboard USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7). As the first Handler selected to direct the MV-22 Osprey onboard, he spoke of the experience associated with performing this duty with all eyes watching.

"It's a great honor that the department and my chain of command put their faith in me to direct the first Osprey onto USS Makin Island. Being in the spotlight is one element but there is the physical challenge that also plays into it. The environment is so intense because you have downdraft winds created by the aircraft's propellers," Padrigo said.

Following the successful flight deck operation, Murray added, "it was an honor to be selected as the first among the west coast ships to bring the Osprey on deck. Air Department personnel executed flawlessly and displayed true professionalism. We look forward to continuing this partnership with the Marine Corps when we deploy later this year."