Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Carl Vinson Readies for Cat 3, 4 Tests

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kristan Robertson, USS Carl Vinson Public Affairs

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- The USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Air Department has prepared for a three-day test launch of the ship's third and fourth catapults, slated to begin on board Oct. 24.

The tests come three years after the aircraft carrier's original systems were removed for an extensive overhaul and reinstallment during the initial stages of the ship's refueling complex overhaul (RCOH).

Now that the catapult systems have been fully refurbished, rebuilt and installed, the department's V-2 division is making final preparations for the upcoming "no load" launches.

"We tested all of the hydraulic and electrical components and have verified that the system is ready to go," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) 1st Class (AW) Andrew Mudd. "We went through everything, checked for steam and hydraulic leaks, and we're ready to run the tests."

Catapult systems, essential for the launch and recovery of embarked aircraft during at-sea operations, rely heavily on large quantities of high-pressure steam. Now that enough steam has built up on board, the V-2 division is "ready to engage," according to Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) Chris Hinson.

During the tests, a team from Naval Air Warfare Center in Lakehurst, N.J., will be present to observe and assist Carl Vinson personnel. About 20 launches will be conducted on the catapult systems to ensure they are operating properly. Catapults one and two were successfully tested earlier this year.

The tests mark a significant milestone for the "Gold Eagle" crew, signaling the rapidly-approaching return of the ship to the fleet, where it will rejoin the American forces in support of maritime security operations.

Mudd said a successful test will allow the division to focus on its next milestone: ensuring the ship's jet blast deflector (JBD) system functions properly before the ship becomes fully operational and goes back out to sea.

"When we finish up these last two catapult tests, we are going to be very close to having our equipment fully mission-ready," said Mudd. "We're working hard to make sure everything is in excellent condition and functioning properly so we can get underway."

USS Carl Vinson is currently undergoing its scheduled refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard. The RCOH is an extensive yard period that all Nimitz-class aircraft carriers go through near the mid-point of their 50-year life cycle.

During RCOH Carl Vinson's nuclear fuel will be replenished and the ship's services and infrastructure will be upgraded to make her the most state-of-the-art aircraft carrier in the fleet and prepare for another 25 years or more of service.