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    Wasp returns to sea for certifications

    ATLANTIC OCEAN, AT SEA

    07.22.2011

    Courtesy Story

    USS WASP

    By Seaman Jah’Mai Stokes
    USS Wasp

    ATLANTIC OCEAN - When the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) departed Norfolk Naval Station July 7 for sea trials and air certifications, many of her sailors probably didn’t imagine the full scope of what this underway period meant for the ship and crew.

    During this underway period Wasp sailors participated in or conducted Aviation Certification (AVCERT), Precision Approach Landing Systems Certification (PALSCERT), Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS) Phalanx Pre-Aim Calibration (PACFIRE), well deck operations, Afloat Training Group medical training and burial at sea ceremonies.

    Each Wasp sailor had his or her own obligation to successfully navigate through their respective challenge, but few realized that each individual challenge that was accomplished brought them one step closer to a full deployment ready/surge capable status.

    According to Senior Chief Petty Officer Richard McCray, AVCERT is a critical component to WASP because it allows aircraft to land safely aboard the ship. When Wasp gets this certification it will be able to take aboard many different types of aircraft and be able to continue doing what an amphibious assault ship was designed to do.

    “We are going to do everything possible to make sure Wasp is a fully operational ship,” said McCray. “This ship will be ready to complete any tasks that come our way; our crew is doing everything possible to make sure that’s the case.”

    Parts of AVCERT were conducted during this underway period with the rest of the certification expected to take place during a future underway period in August. During this underway period, Wasp attained certification to land helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft such as SH-60s and V-22 Osprey’s. After she achieves full air certification, Wasp will gain the ability to facilitate Vertical Take Off and Landing (VSTOL) aircraft like the AV-8B Harrier and the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
    Another certification critical to Wasp being fully operational that is closely related to AVCERT is Precision Approach and Landing Systems Certification. Wasp conducted PALSCERT, which tested the ship’s radar system that helps pilots land on the ship.

    “If there are multiple aircraft that need to land on our ship our air traffic controllers will be in constant communication with the pilots to let them know where we are in relation to them,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Donald Cooper. “Once the pilots know of our location and we know of theirs, our AN/SPN 35 and AN/SPN 41 radar system will chart a course so everyone will know where and when they will be picked up and how they will come in.” The PALS system also provides the ship with an orderly system to pick-up the aircraft in an arranged sequence and a better ability for pilots to land safely during inclement weather.”

    Also during this underway period, on July 9, Wasp successfully conducted a CIWS Pre-Action Calibration Firing. A CIWS PACFIRE is an anti-ship missile defense maintenance exercise required monthly for ships on deployment or underway to align the radars with the guns and ensure weapons accuracy.

    As if AVCERT, PALSCERT and a CIWS PACFIRE wasn’t enough, Wasp also flexed its amphibious muscle when it conducted well-deck operations. During these operations, Wasp lowered her aft end into the sea, essentially sinking the ship in order to take on or offload equipment such as Landing Craft Utility boats, tanks and various Marine Corps machinery. This operation is not only critical for testing and making ready Wasp’s amphibious war fighting capability, but her medical capability as well. LHD 1’s medical and dental facilities are capable of providing intensive medical assistance to 600 casualties, whether combat incurred or brought aboard ship during humanitarian missions.

    To keep the crew keep the crew well rounded and well prepared, WASP also trained to and practiced “GITMO 8” medical training. GITMO 8 derives its name from a time when sailors went to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and trained on responding to eight different medical scenarios commonly experienced by shipboard sailors: abdominal lacerations; compound fractures; sucking chest wounds; amputations; facial wounds; burns; smoke inhalation; and patient transport.

    “This training is important for every sailor on a ship especially WASP,” said Seaman Lloyd Smith. “We have roughly 1,000 sailors and Marines aboard this ship and less than two percent of them are corpsman, so it is important for sailors to know how to dress and treat wounds of a shipmate until more advanced medical support arrives.”

    In a ceremonial capacity, Wasp sailors honored fallen veterans with several burial at sea ceremonies performed July 10 and 17. In the first set of solemn ceremonies, the remains of four former sailors and one former Marine in caskets were released into the sea by lowering the ship’s sterngate into the water.

    “The burial at sea ceremony is a very meaningful and respectful service,” said Cmdr. Michael Hall command chaplain. “It connects you to our heritage, and it is a way of honoring not only the people who served, but service itself.”

    This underway period for Wasp has been full of sea and air trials, exercises and ceremonies, and first time experiences for many of Wasp’s sailors. But in the end, it is those experiences that will help Wasp and her crew provide more support and become a more valued asset to the fleet.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 07.22.2011
    Date Posted: 07.22.2011 23:09
    Story ID: 74179
    Location: ATLANTIC OCEAN, AT SEA

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