Official U.S. Navy file photo of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) 
Flagship for Carrier Strike Group 11 Underway For Carrier Quals 
USS NIMITZ, At Sea -- The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11 began carrier qualifications July 12 off the coast of Southern California.

Carrier qualifications test both CVW 11 and the Nimitz crew.

"The Nimitz and Air Wing 11 team did a great job of refreshing flight deck currency," said Capt. Eric Wright, Nimitz's air department head. "These operations aren't always fast or error-free, but we operated deliberately and safely. It was a great first day back."

Nimitz and CVW-11 will continue to launch and recover aircraft throughout the week of July 12 to qualify and re-qualify pilots, extending Nimitz's flight deck certification.

According to Aviation Boatswains Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Marc Nielsen of air department's V-2 division, it is good for the crew to get back into a routine.

"Our job really only exists out to sea. This is where the action is," said Nielsen.

This is the first time aircraft have touched down on Nimitz's flight deck since returning from an eight-month deployment in March 2010.

"This is a good chance to knock the rust off." said Intelligence Specialist 1st Class (SW) Brandon Soileau, operations department division leading petty officer.

Both Soileau and Nielsen said conducting carrier qualifications also allows everyone on the ship to stay current with personal qualifications.

"A lot of people are getting a good chance to go do their jobs," said Soileau.

Nimitz is the flagship for Carrier Strike Group 11. Nimitz returned home to San Diego March 26 after completing a successful eight-month Western Pacific deployment.
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