By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian Sloan, USS George Washington Public Affairs
WATERS NEAR GUAM (NNS) -- The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, successfully completed a combat operational efficiency (COE) evaluation, June 5.
The COE certification, often called the "blue-water" certification, allows the ship and air wing team to launch and recover aircraft without the requirement of a divert airfield nearby.
"Combat operational efficiency is critically important to every aircraft carrier and air wing team," said Capt. William Koyama, commander, CVW-5. "The metrics and standards to meet COE have been written 'in blood' and represent a direct indicator of both how safely the ship and air wing team can operate, and how much power they can bring in combat."
The George Washington and CVW-5 team began their certification process May 28 and were required to meet established criteria of efficiency and safety during aircraft launch and recovery operations for nine consecutive days.
"We're graded on many things including: tanking demonstrations, [manually-operated visual landing aid system] MOVLAS recoveries, E-2C Hawkeye controlled approaches, combat boarding rate (CBR), aircraft launch and recovery event factor and several others," said Lt. Tyler Moore of CVW-5. "The air wing performed very well and CBRs remained high even while using MOVLAS to recover aircraft."
Despite several challenges during COE, the ship-air wing team was still very successful according to Koyama.
"We had some administrative interruptions and a day of severe weather that presented a challenge," said Koyama. "We also had equipment challenges with some systems on the ship, but those are systems that can't really be exercised in port and the ship turned to and put in phenomenal effort to return landing aids to service."
With COE complete, CVW-5 can move on to more complex exercises.
"Missile shoots, air defense exercises, war-at-sea scenarios and the higher-end electromagnetic warfare practices are all critically important training variables that we can now focus on," said Koyama. "All of these air missions build upon the basic efficiency and safety of the ship-air wing team. Now that we are blue-water certified, we are able to practice these missions anywhere, and with more training fuel to accomplish those missions."
According to Moore, COE was successful due to the cooperation and hard work of the entire ship-air wing team. He added that the completion of this evaluation established the standards for combat efficiency, which allowed the ship-air wing team to be a more lethal fighting force.
George Washington and CVW-5 are on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. George Washington will conduct a hull-swap with the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) later this year after serving seven years as the U.S. Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier in Yokosuka, Japan.