By Rear Admiral Bruce H. Lindsey
Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) transited from Naval Station Norfolk to the Norfolk Naval Shipyards on Aug. 5 to begin her second Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP) Maintenance Phase. Her first OFRP Sustainment Phase is now complete, and after much success supporting the fleet, the ship will now undergo maintenance and modernization.
What an amazing job Ike and her crew did during the second portion of her Sustainment Phase, which came directly on the heels of a combat deployment that lasted from June 1 to December 30, 2016. During her seven months of post deployment Sustainment Phase, Ike maintained its ability to deploy fully combat ready within 30 days or less. Twice during this period, the carrier was called upon to execute a Fleet Synthetic Exercise – Sustainment (FST-S) and an at-sea Sustainment Exercise (SUSTEX) that included an Integrated Live Fire (ILF) event. These two exercises demonstrated Ike’s ability to deploy and conduct integrated planning and execution of at-sea combat operations. To accomplish this, every department aboard the ship had to be at the top of their game and constantly maintain the highest standards of readiness for months on end.
As any Sailor can tell you, maintaining this level of readiness for an aircraft carrier, let alone an entire carrier strike group, is no easy task. Between seven underway periods to conduct carrier qualification requirements to ensure proficiency and train the next generation of aviators, as well as the integrated sea combat exercises, Ike CSG worked around the clock to stay proficient in the event they were needed by the National Command Authorities.
In addition to training requirements, we also kept Ike maintained as if she was on deployment. This meant that any time there was an issue with equipment, we jumped on fixing it. We maintained manning levels at deployment levels and kept them there throughout the entire Sustainment Phase.
Now, with USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) scheduled to return from deployment on Aug. 21 and enter into the second half of her Sustainment Phase, Ike’s crew can now focus on the beginning of her second OFRP cycle – a six-month Planned Incremental Availability (PIA) in which Sailors and shipyard workers will work together to upgrade systems and rehabilitate spaces throughout the ship.
The numerous accomplishments of Ike’s Sailors during all phases of her first OFRP cycle have illustrated that OFRP is making a critical difference in the Navy’s ability to generate highly trained and lethal combat forces to meet the threats of today, and the threats of the future.
As Ike begins her second OFRP cycle with her induction into the Maintenance Phase at Norfolk Naval Shipyards, we must ensure OFRP’s four functions of:
- Rotating the force
- Surging the force if required
- Maintaining and modernizing the force
- Resetting the force in stride such that the fleet remains operationally ready to respond to world events.