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Ike’s Awakening

By Capt. Paul C. Spedero Jr.
Commanding officer, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69)

Recently, we shared the video “Sea Wars: the Ike Awakens” with the world, and judging by the more than one million views, many of you enjoyed it as much as I did.

In addition to being a fun, lighthearted piece, it really is analogous to life on Ike these days: we’ve been waiting years for our next “release,” a lot of great work by thousands of talented professionals went into getting us to this point, and the anticipation levels are high as the date we premiere our latest chapter approaches.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Nov. 29, 2015) An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the Dusty Dogs of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 7 flies toward the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Kanawha (T-AO 196) during a replenishment at sea with the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). Dwight D. Eisenhower, with embarked Carrier Air Wing 3, was underway conducting the Tailored Ship's Training Availability (TSTA) and Final Evaluation Problem (FEP) as part of the basic phase of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jameson E. Lynch/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Nov. 29, 2015) An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the Dusty Dogs of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 7 flies toward the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Kanawha (T-AO 196) during a replenishment at sea with the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). Dwight D. Eisenhower, with embarked Carrier Air Wing 3, was underway conducting the Tailored Ship’s Training Availability (TSTA) and Final Evaluation Problem (FEP) as part of the basic phase of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jameson E. Lynch/Released)

The view from the captain’s chair on the bridge of the Mighty Ike provides me with a cinema-quality vantage point that rivals any IMAX experience. More importantly, seeing the world from this angle affords me the opportunity to always look ahead to what comes next.

In 2016, not only will Ike pass the first Board of Inspections and Surveys (INSURV) comprehensive shipwide inspection of the ship in more than nine years, we will also demonstrate our collective proficiency during the final lead-up to deployment, a Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) that will test all warfare mission areas of both the ship and the strike group.

Then we will deploy. We will depart our homeport of Norfolk, leaving our loved ones behind to await our return. We will once again be on the front lines standing against those who threaten our great nation.

How can I have so much certainty that we will be ready?

Because Ike will deploy as one of the most technologically advanced capital warships in the world. Our systems have been updated, our people have been trained, and the crew has already spent the past several months proving that we’re ready.

Since late August, our basic phase training cycle was compressed from a nominal 22 weeks to 15.5 weeks, with more than 70 percent of the time over the past four months spent at sea. Ike’s crew completed flight deck certification, multiple carrier qualifications, joint strike fighter developmental testing, and shipboard training and qualifications, including a Tailored Ship’s Training Availability and Final Evaluation Problem (TSTA/FEP). It came as no surprise that our overall scores for TSTA/FEP were outstanding, thanks to Ike’s strong deckplate leadership, and to the professionalism and motivation of our junior Sailors. It’s a testament to how hard this crew has worked over the last few years, the last several months in particular. You can’t demonstrate this high a level of proficiency and readiness without dedicating yourself to getting greater each day.

Now in the integrated training phase, the Ike Carrier Strike Group, with embarked CSG-10 staff, Carrier Air Wing 3, USS San Jacinto (CG 56), USS Monterey (CG 61), Destroyer Squadron 26 and its associated ships, will train together and prepare for the coming months. As ready as we already are, the Ike standard is we remain more than ready for whatever comes our way.

While, admittedly, the hard work that lies ahead won’t always feel like a trip to the movies, the final result will be well worth sitting back and watching; the continuing saga of USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, the finest warship in the fleet.

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