Aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike), with embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3, began missions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) from the Arabian Gulf, July 22.
Big Ike has made its way from its homeport of Norfolk, VA through the Mediterranean, and now to the Arabian Gulf. The Eisenhower Strike Group began strike missions against ISIS while in the Mediterranean back in June, but have moved further east to strike from the Arabian Gulf.
“Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group last operated in the Arabian Gulf in 2013,” said Rear Adm. Jesse Wilson, Ike CSG commander. “We continue our longstanding commitment to this region and accelerating the fight against ISIL.”
Temperatures this time of year in the Gulf are merciless. Many times flight deck temperatures hover in the 110 degrees Fahrenheit range. It’s difficult to man aircraft when the exterior metal of fighters is being baked by the sun. Imagine what it would be like if you had to work below in the steam catapults? That’s what Machinist Mates do every day underway.
“You learn to love it,” said Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Tommy McGehee. “Knowing that every jet that launched safely and securely was because of the Sailors in my shop and the aviation boatswain’s mates (equipment) in arresting gear is a great feeling of accomplishment.”
Pressurized steam that is held at 520 pounds per square inch is used to launch aircraft. The steam is pressurized in an accumulator and then gets pushed into a launch valve. This acts as a spring to launch the jet via the catapult mechanism. Nuclear power heats the water to make steam. It’s a thankless job that requires a lot of hydration. Thankfully, the mess decks serve ice cream and cold drinks!
CVW-3 includes Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32 “Swordsmen,” VFA 86 “Sidewinders,” VFA 105 “Gunslingers,” and VFA 131 “Wildcats;” Tactical Electronics Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 130 “Zappers;” Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 123 “Screwtops;” Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40 “Rawhides;” Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 74 “Swamp Foxes;” and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 7 “Dusty Dogs.”
You can read the full Navy press release by the CVN 69 PAO here and Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Casey J. Hopkins story about “Life in the Catapult” here.
Top Photo credit: Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class (Equipment) Jernelle Smith signals to an F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Sidewinders of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 86 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Anderson W. Branch/Released)