By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paolo Bayas
PHILIPPINE SEA (NNS) -- Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 and the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) completed its carrier qualifications (CQ), May 23.
CQ allows CVW 5 pilots and George Washington's flight deck crew to prove accuracy and proficiency in successfully landing and recovering aircraft.
"We don't have the luxury of crawl-walk-run in the forward-deployed Navy," said Lt. Eric Alexander, flight deck officer aboard George Washington. "We are running straight out of the gate and CQ is very important because it allows us to perform what we have been training our crew for a while we were in port."
According to Alexander, being a part of forward-deployed naval forces include having high expectations for the crew to always be trained and well prepared to operate at sea even during the ship's six-month maintenance period.
"I am impressed with [George Washington's] rapid sortie and proficiency regeneration capability," said Capt. William Koyama, commander, CVW-5. "No other carrier can do it. I expect that the pilots and crew must always be looking for training opportunities and be creative in planning and executing them. They never let me down."
Koyama added that CVW 5 is constantly on the hook for operational orders from higher headquarters and squeezes in tactical training flights when possible when they are not operating aboard an aircraft carrier. However, the priority is real world operational tasking 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.
"We have to do this because we are always deployed," said Koyama. "We do not get gradual work ups prior to cruise, so we have to be ready to quickly complete CQ and then get on with the business at hand. [George Washington] literally goes from zero to full speed on day one. We have to be ready to integrate as a team all the time. That's what's behind the "911" nickname we have."
Behind-the-scenes training and planning allowed George Washington to successfully perform approximately 100 arrested landings on the very first day of CQ, according to Alexander,
"Tactically, the air wing is virtually always ready to respond to an emergency or crisis because we are always in a 'sustainment' phase," said Koyama. "We reach the pinnacle when we are on the ship and operating full speed. When we are with [the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76)], we will need to build that new team, and the portion of the crew that comes over will have to learn a new paradigm."
George Washington and its embarked air wing, CVW-5, are on patrol in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. George Washington will conduct a hull-swap with the Ronald Reagan later this year after serving seven years as the U.S. Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier in Yokosuka, Japan