Back With The Pack

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Oct. 7, 2014) – The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) made strides toward her upcoming deployment by training and operating with ships from Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG) during integrated training known as group sail (GRUSL) from Sept. 16 to Oct. 10.

100216-N-KA273-043.JPGTRCSG includes embarked staff of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, and four ships from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 2, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60), the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Forest Sherman (DDG 98), USS Farragut (DDG 99) and USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81).

GRUSL tested the ability of TRCSG to perform as a team. It also marked an opportunity for Sailors from different ships and squadrons to work with others within the strike group to complete a common goal.

“Group sails are designed to bring together the individual commands that make up the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group and begin operating together in order to be able to fight as one team,” said Lt. Michael Buckley, TR’s assistant future flight operations officer for CSG12.

TR conducted joint maneuvers with TRCSG ships, which included two straits transits .

“Our mission is to complete all unit-level training requirements, and complete critical events,” said Buckley. “We want to hone individual and unit level skills and transition from a ‘crawl’ to a ‘walk’ mentality. It’s a great opportunity to work with other communities and see different evolutions that Roosevelt’s strike group has not completed as a group in a long time.”

“I’m starting to see everyone coming together, because the training teams are helping them turn what they have learned into muscle memory,” said Lt. Cmdr. Zavean Ware, TR’s training officer. “This is just the beginning. It’s a long road but our Sailors are resilient and in the end they may be tired and stressed but they are going to get it done. I have faith in our Sailors.”.”

 

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sandra A. Pimentel, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs

 

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Quality Assurance for the City at Sea

Rumbling engines reverberate off the walls of the hangar bay aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). The smell of tractor exhaust permeates the air. These tractors are one of many items aboard an aircraft carrier inspected almost daily for optimal performance.

The Quality Assurance (QA) team inspects TR’s various systems and equipment to ensure they are equipped with the right parts and that Sailors installed those parts correctly.

“We are directly responsible to the [executive officer] for ensuring that all material, systems and structural systems are up to the original ship standards,” said Chief Warrant Officer Mark Swarringim, quality assurance officer aboard TR. “We maintain those standards so that no one gets injured and the ship does not get damaged.”

In 1990, the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LPH 2) pulled in to Manama, Bahrain, for repairs after developing a leak in a steam valve that supplied steam to a stand-by electrical generator. A local contractor completed the repairs and Iwo Jima began raising steam to get underway when the valve ruptured, flooding the room with steam. The incident, caused by the installation of incorrect repair parts, cost ten Sailors their lives.

The events on board Iwo Jima prompted the Navy to scrutinize the quality of materials used in shipboard systems and how Sailors verify the right materials are in the right system.

“There are a number of examples for why we do what we do. The USS Thresher was a submarine that was unable to do an emergency blow and return to the surface due to a pipe failure. The entire crew was lost and still rests at the bottom of the ocean,” said Chief Machinist’s Mate Nick Donahue, the assistant quality assurance officer aboard TR. “Those examples are why we do what we do.”

QA works with every department, from Air to Reactor, inspecting every system. If a system fails the check, QA works with that department to fix the discrepancy.

“We worked closely with Engineering Department’s repair division to perform over 90 welds a week in preparation for [the Board of Inspection and Survey],” said Swarringim. “We checked 80-90% of those welds to make sure they were done to the ship’s drawing specifications.”

Swarringim and Donahue are constantly training new Sailors working toward the QA craftsman qualification, one of three requirements to perform maintenance aboard the ship.

“We take a lot of pride in our work. You can see it not only in the 6 by 9 foot American flag we have painted in our office, but by the level of dedication that we have to ensure the systems on this boat are up to the highest possible standard of quality,” said Donahue. “I absolutely love this job. I was hand-picked to do this job and I can say without a doubt that my next job will be this. It gives me great satisfaction knowing I am directly affecting the safety of my fellow shipmates and the safe operation of all shipboard materials.”

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Heath Zeigler, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs

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Paying It Forward

NORFOLK (July 30, 2014) – The air swirls with dust as Sailors sweep a blanket of dirt behind a Habitat for Humanity Restore, a non-profit home improvement store and donation center. Boisterous laughter fills the air as Michael Judge stacks and organizes tiles. As the hot sun beats down, Judge wipes the sweat from his brow but cannot wipe the smile off of his face.

140723-N-KA273-036.jpg Religious Programs Specialist (RP) 2nd Class Michael C. Judge, the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt’s (CVN 71) community relations (COMREL) coordinator, has participated in COMREL events for nearly his entire time aboard TR. Judge enjoys helping those in need because he sees a little bit of himself in them.

“After college, I worked as a corrections officer in a jail for five years. It was good money but I knew it was something that I did not want to do for the rest of my life. After the jail, I worked as a contractor for two years. During that time there wasn’t much work, and money was very tight,” said Judge.

“It was tough. I lost my apartment and had to move back home. I had bills to pay that I wasn’t able to pay. It was depressing,” he sighed. “It was during that time that I got close to God, and it really made me want to do something to help people so they don’t end up in the same situation as me.”

Judge wanted to go back to school and he decided the Navy could help him do that, as well as provide him numerous other opportunities.

“I joined the Navy to see the world, finish my education and have adventures,” said Judge. “People said the Navy was looking for people and I needed a job so I could pay bills and study. It was at that point that I chose the Navy.”

Judge’s interest in religion and his desire to help others pushed him toward becoming a Navy chaplain.

140723-N-PG340-034  “I was looking toward being a chaplain, but I realized that you had to have a degree and former experience as a chaplain. So I couldn’t do that but I asked one of my friends who was already in the Navy if there was something else that tied into religion. He said I could be a religious programs specialist. He said that they were basically a chaplain’s assistant. So that’s why I chose RP (religious program specialist),” said Judge.

After joining the Navy and reporting to TR, Judge discovered COMRELs were a chance to give back to the community.

“One day, my RP2 told me that I had to do a COMREL. I had no idea what that was and he told me that it was volunteer work,” said Judge.

Judge participated in two COMRELs that changed his outlook and gave him a better perspective on his job.

“The first COMREL that I did was stuffing scarecrows with straw for Halloween. It was for the children in the area and it was really fun. The second was at Hampton University where we laid wreaths on veteran’s tombstones, and that one was amazing,” said Judge.

“My mom is the one that instilled in me the want to help others and to be thankful for what I have,” said Judge.

Judge is now TR’s COMREL coordinator, responsible for all the COMRELs that TR’s crew volunteer for.

“For COMRELs, he calls everybody himself and tries to set up five COMRELs a week. He’s very motivated,” said Religious Programs Specialist Seaman Nicholas Rospos.

Rospos has known Judge for his entire Navy career. They went to boot camp, A-School and their first command together.

“He’s a really happy person. He loves to help people out,” said Rospos. “He dedicates his weekends and liberty to helping everybody else out so it’s like that is his main purpose.”

Judge pays it forward, hoping his example inspires Sailors to volunteer.

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kris R. Lindstrom, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs

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Remembering the 11th of September

NORFOLK (Sept. 10, 2014) – The day began as a beautiful summer morning in New York City with the familiar sound of car horns blaring and a clear blue sky overhead. The serene morning quickly turned chaotic as the worst terrorist attack in American history took place Sept. 11, 2001. Scheduled to deploy in only a week, the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt’s (CVN 71) mission took a sudden and drastic change.

“The amount of people that died that day, there are no words for it,” said Chief Electronics Technician Jennifer Sally, who previously served onboard TR in 2001 at the time of the 9/11 attacks. “The fact that the Roosevelt was able to go on deployment and was able to go make a difference, that makes me extremely proud that I was here and I contributed to my country.”

TR deployed from Naval Station Norfolk on Sept. 17, 2001, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). TR assisted previously deployed aircraft carriers USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in air strikes against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, said Sally.

TR spent 159 consecutive days at sea conducting operations in support of OEF, breaking the record for longest period underway since World War II.

Chief Mass Communication Specialist Adrian Melendez also served onboard TR in 2001 while assigned to the “Rooks” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 137.

“I was motivated to be out there because we were flying non-stop,” said Melendez. “It was a good time to be out on deployment because you felt like you were out there for a reason. Everyone had a mission and they knew what it was for.”

“It was amazing how after a disaster, the ship’s crew came together as a team so fast,” said Sally. “I have never seen such high morale on an aircraft carrier before. Everybody was like ‘let’s go over there and kick some [butt].’”

The purpose and urgency felt in the aftermath of 9/11 still permeates the crew and Navy as a whole, said Melendez.

“Everyone is a lot more patriotic after September 11,” said Melendez. “Everything is in preparation to go to war and we are more at a readiness status so we can deploy at any time.”

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kris R. Lindstrom, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs

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Family and Friends Join TR for a Day at Sea

 

     As dawn broke over the horizon, Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) welcomed guests to the ship for a Family and Friends Day cruise, Aug. 27.

     TR Sailors invited more than 2,000 of their family and friends for a day at sea to give them a taste of life aboard the mighty warship.

   140827-N-KA273-157.jpg  “While there are many high definition TV shows depicting carrier life, until you’re actually hearing and seeing it first [hand] there is no way to really understand what it’s like. I guarantee it will be a memory of a lifetime,” said Capt. Daniel Grieco, TR’s commanding officer. “Enjoy and have fun. Take time to say hi to the Sailors. Many of them will be humble, but the reality is that it takes everyone on the ship to run her efficiently each day.”

     The day was a unique chance for Sailors to bring their loved ones aboard and show their family and friends where they work and how they live.

     “We are very proud of what he’s doing. He’s doing his job and serving his country,” said Ms. Tanya Demby, mother of Damage Controlman Fireman Jonathan Korver. “It’s amazing.”

     “It was fun to have them aboard. It’s an experience I’m glad I had,” said Korver. “I’m definitely proud they came aboard.

     As TR gracefully cut her way through the sea, guests and Sailors took part in myriad events. In the ship’s hangar bay, the hub of activity, guests played bean-bag toss, hopped in the bounce house and listened to live music. Guests also followed self-guided tour routes designed to provide a glimpse of the ship’s inner workings.

     “A lot of planning went into this day. We tried to provide as many different activities as we could,” said Megan Villapudua, TR’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation representative and afloat recreational specialist.

     The hangar bay also doubled as a mess deck for more than 5,000 people. TR’s food service specialists put on an all-day feast that included a light breakfast, lunch and an ice cream social.

     “There was a lot of advance planning and a lot of coordination between many different parties to make this all run smoothly,” said Chief Warrant Officer Benny Brockington, TR’s food service officer. “We fed about 3,000 more people than we usually do. Everyone knew their role, and everyone understood that we wanted to make the ship look good. All of this was due to the team we have.”

   140827-N-IE511-061  Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 treated guests to an air power demonstration that dazzled guests watching from the flight deck. The demonstration featured air-refueling, precision formation flying and a supersonic flyby.

     “The energy was very infectious. Everyone was on pins and needles waiting to see the demonstration. It made me proud,” said Ellen Hilkowski, wife of Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Anthony Hilkowski.

     TR and her crew performed one final demonstration of seamanship and professionalism by mooring the hulking ship to the pier they departed from. Then with the brows attached family and friends departed and the festive day drew to a close.

“The reason we have days like today is because, I’m exceptionally proud of each and every one of our Sailor’s,” said Command Master Chief Bill Smalts, TR’s command master chief. “And if their family members and friends could come out and see what they do every day and understand what it is they do and what they sacrifice, they would be proud to. It is their sacrifice that enables us to so what we do. It’s the ones that are out there getting dirty, not the captain not the executive officer, it’s them and that’s why we do this.”

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sandra A. Pimentel, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs

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Hose Team, Move In

NORFOLK (July 28, 2014) – “General quarters, general quarters! All hands man your battle stations.”

     The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) has ten repair lockers spread throughout the ship, each responsible for damage control efforts in specific zones of the ship. The core of each locker consists of two hose teams comprised of an on-scene leader, two team leaders, a nozzleman, plugman and hosemen.

     “From the time the alarm sounds, the hose team gets to the repair locker as fast as possible to get in the firefighting ensemble (FFE). Once we are all suited up, as the team lead I will make sure everybody is in line, manned and ready,” said Yeomen 2nd Class Ronnie Jones, repair locker one bravo hose team leader.

     All Sailors must be ready to provide immediate response to a fire, but they don’t have the same level of protection or resources a hose team.    

     “Sailors can only do so much in just flash gear. It won’t be safe for them to be there during a fire, but we have the full suit on and we will be able to take the measures that are needed to not only fight a fire but to win over a fire,” said Jones.

     Fires can spread quickly and do severe damage to a ship if not dealt with in a timely manner.

     “A fire is the worst type of casualty you can have because a fire spreads quicker than flooding or toxic gas,” said Damage Controlman 1st Class Daniel Hernandez, repair locker one bravo deck leader. “It is very important that the hose team goes out and actually combats that casualty, because if not you will have a small fire that will completely 180 and before you know it there will be a fire from the 8th deck to the 03 level.”

     Prior to being assigned to a hose team Sailors must attend a basic shipboard firefighting course. The course teaches Sailors how to dress out in FFE, combat class alpha, bravo and charlie fires and how to send messages throughout the ship during a casualty.

     TR can never know exactly what casualty it may have to fight, but I have faith in my shipmates to work together as a team and combat a casualty successfully, said Hernandez.

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Alex Millar, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs

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TR Helps Ford Sailors Get up to Speed

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 19, 2014) – Waves formed and ventured out into the seemingly endless ocean as the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) sliced its way through the water. Explosions of steam shot up from the flight deck as TR’s catapults slung aircraft into the atmosphere. Beeping radars echoed inside the control room as Sailors tracked the aircraft.

     TR’s Sailors also operate and maintain electrical units, boilers, networks and other various necessities to keep the ship pressing onward toward the horizon, but they are not alone.

     The crew is training Sailors from Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) in rate-specific duties and giving them experience at sea. The training helps Sailors aboard the first Ford-class aircraft carrier get ready for the day Ford joins the fleet.

     “I’m proud to know that I’m directly involved with preparing the Ford for future operations,” said TR Air Traffic Controller 1st Class Julius R. Challenger, a native of St. Croix, Virgin Islands. “I train the Ford Sailors so they can get their qualifications. I think it’s a vital role I’m playing, and I take pride in that.”

     While TR Sailors are training Ford Sailors, the trainees are taking notes to pass on to others aboard Ford.

     “In order to fly, there has to be qualified Sailors to run the operations,” said Ford Air Traffic Controller 1st Class Teresa Kiel, a native of Philadelphia. “It’s been four years since I’ve been on a ship, and it’s exciting because I feel like I’m rekindling my fire. I’m learning all these things again so I can go back and qualify the Sailors on the Ford.”

     TR Sailors are treating Ford Sailors as one of their own while underway. They are giving them the full experience of what it is like to be underway on an aircraft carrier.

     “I love training Sailors,” said TR Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class Zachary S. Christenson, a native of Buckhannon, W. Va. “We include the Ford Sailors in all our daily activities, from cleaners to standing watch. We are taking the necessary knowledge of being a Sailor and passing it on to them, and they are doing an amazing job. I’m excited for them to take this experience and build from it on the Ford.”

     TR is providing a platform for Ford Sailors not only to earn qualifications, but also provide unique and useful experiences they can take with them.

     “On the Ford, there will be obstacles for me,” said Ford Intelligence Specialist Seaman Apprentice Richard A. Ayala, a native of Stafford, Va. “I feel Roosevelt’s chain of command is preparing me for those obstacles, whatever they may be. There’s a sense of pride being on an older Nimitz-class carrier and I can’t wait to take things one step further on the Ford.”

     “I’m just excited to experience what it’s like to be a Sailor,” said Ford Intelligence Specialist Seaman Apprentice Keyla M. Vargas-Colon, a native of Puerto Rico. “I’m doing a lot of things my rate requires of me that I just don’t get to do on the Ford yet. I briefed an admiral, Roosevelt’s commanding officer and executive officer for the first time. It was nerve racking, but I feel like I matured in my rate because of it. The experience of being underway is different than what I had imagined, but now I feel that I can sail on the Ford with confidence.”

     The setting sun nestles itself in the horizon, painting a warm sky of yellow, orange and red. Aircraft land, catch the trap wires and proceed to park. Flight operations on TR are coming to an end for the day but it is not the end of training for Ford Sailors. Just as the sun will rise again in the morning, TR Sailors will continue to help them prepare for the day that Ford begins its first operation.

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Ryan Litzenberger, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs

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Committed to the Sea

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 22, 2014) – Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) laid Seaman 1st Class Samuel Sherwood Boorse Jr. to rest during a burial at sea ceremony, Aug. 22.

     Boorse, born Dec. 8, 1925, began his service in the U.S. Navy July 12, 1943 and was honorably discharged January 27, 1947. He died June 15, 2013.

     “I was glad to be a part of the ceremony,” said Lt. Ryan Broderick, grandson of Boorse. “It really became a reflective moment and it was good to watch him go into the sea. It’s going to be a great memory for the family.”

  140822-N-ZF498-030   Boorse’s decorations include the American Area Campaign Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.

     Capt. Jeff Craig, TR’s executive officer, and Cmdr. Kim Donahue, Command Religious Ministries Department head, spoke at the ceremony.

     “The burial at sea ceremony represents a sacred tradition long observed by seafarers and the U.S. Navy,” said Craig. “We honor the legacy of service, commitment and honor that this sailor provided for his country.”

     Chaplain Donahue, participating in her first burial at sea aboard TR, gave the closing prayer.

     “This was the perfect way to include the elements of service and sacrifice,” said Donahue. “The symbolic groups that participated in the ceremony represented his shipmates, who were about the same age. It was also great to have a living relative to participate in the ceremony. Lt. Broderick was very pleased to grant his grandfather’s final wishes.”

     A burial at sea ceremony is available to active duty members of the armed services, retirees and veterans who were honorably discharged. It is also available to U.S. civilian marine personnel of the Military Sealift Command, and dependents of active duty service members.  

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Flight Deck 50; Recreating a Tragedy

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 19, 2014) – On July 29, 1967, the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal (CVA 59) experienced the worst U.S. aircraft carrier fire since World War II. As the sun descended upon the horizon, smoke billowed across a chaotic flight deck. Corpsmen worked through their exhaustion, tending to their wounded shipmates strewn on the mangled flight deck.

     The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) recently conducted a drill called a flight deck 50 that prepares Sailors to respond to similar emergencies.

    140807-N-GN619-082 A flight deck 50 simulates 50 casualties on the flight deck to train Sailors on proper medical and firefighting techniques in order to prepare them for the most severe situations imaginable.

     “We are basically preparing for the worst thing to happen,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Cody DuPont.

     Regardless of department or ship, Sailors throughout the Navy have an important role to play in emergency response.        

     “With the flight deck 50, all available stretcher bearers, all of Medical and all of Air Department are involved,” said DuPont. “Air Department is responsible for putting out the fires and helping to collect casualties. Then they move them down the aircraft elevator to the safety of the hanger bay so they can get triaged and receive further care from Medical.”

     The Navy uses lessons learned from Forrestal’s fire to measure the effectiveness of their emergency response.

     “With the tragedy that happened on the Forrestal, they had over 100 casualties. We need to train ourselves for ‘what if this happened to us?’ By simulating this, we can find out where our weaknesses are, so we can train, and make those strengths. We are testing people to see how well they take the pressure,” said DuPont.

     Sailors involved in flight deck 50 training understand the gravity of the scenarios, said DuPont.

     “They have worked long hours, and yet they still manage to be motivated and dedicated, and they pull through,” said DuPont. “They understand what’s at stake. This is their family, these are their shipmates onboard, and everyone needs to step up their game and do the best to save their friends’ lives.”

     The Forrestal fire is history, but flight deck 50 drills help Sailors prepare for the worst to avoid reliving the past tragedy.          

     “If this was to happen in real life, it would be very tragic,” said DuPont. “We have to keep that in mind and think that this is the real thing. We need to do our best, put our best foot forward and give it 110% because this is our family and we can’t let them down.”

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By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kris R. Lindstrom, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs

USS Theodore Roosevelt First To Conduct Combined Manned, Unmanned Operations

140817-N-SB299-038     The Navy’s unmanned X-47B returned to carrier operations aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Aug. 17 and completed a series of tests, operating safely and seamlessly with manned aircraft. 

     Building on lessons learned from its first test period aboard TR in November 2013, the X-47B team is now focused on perfecting deck operations and performing maneuvers with manned aircraft in the flight pattern. 

     “Today we showed that the X-47B could take off, land and fly in the carrier pattern with manned aircraft while maintaining normal flight deck operations,” said Capt. Beau Duarte, program manager for the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation office. “This is key for the future Carrier Air Wing.” 

     The first series of manned/unmanned operations began this morning when the ship launched an F/A-18 and an X-47B. After an eight-minute flight, the X-47B executed an arrested landing, folded its wings and taxied out of the landing area. The deck-based operator used newly developed deck handling control to manually move the aircraft out of the way of other aircraft, allowing the F/A-18 to touch down close behind the X-47B’s recovery.

     This cooperative launch and recovery sequence will be repeated multiple times over the course of the planned test periods. The X-47B performed multiple arrested landings, catapults, flight deck taxiing and deck refueling operations.

     “For this test period, we really focused on integration with manned aircraft,” said Lt. Cmdr Brian Hall, X-47B flight test director. “We re-engineered the tailhook retract actuator and updated operating software to expedite wingfold during taxi, both of which reduce time in the landing area post-recovery. Our goal was to minimize the time in the landing area and improve the flow with manned aircraft in the landing pattern.” 

     “The X-47B’s air vehicle performance, testing efficiency and safety technologies and procedures developed and tested throughout the program’s execution have paved the way for the Navy’s future carrier-based unmanned system capability,” said Rear Adm. Mat Winter, who oversees the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons.

     The X-47B will remain aboard CVN 71 for the duration of the underway period. It will perform additional cooperative deck and flight operations with F/A-18s and complete night deck handling and flying quality evaluations. 

     The Navy will continue X-47B flight operations over the next year to refine the concept of operations to demonstrate the integration of unmanned carrier-based aircraft within the carrier environment and mature technologies for the future Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike system.

 

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