YOKOSUKA, Japan – The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG-67) became a flight deck qualified cruiser after completing a helicopter evaluation evolution at sea, April 2.
More than eight months has passed since Shiloh was fully flight deck qualified. In order to become flight deck qualified, the ship must undergo three phases of testing.
First, the ship had to participate in an aviation assist visit, complete the aviation requirements qualifications and complete a Helicopter “Helo” Day. During Helo Day, Shiloh hosted Helicopter Anti-submarine Light Squadron (HSL 51) in order to re-qualify and evaluate the ship’s flight deck readiness.
The evaluation consisted of routine deck landing qualifications, vertical replenishment exercises, helicopter in-flight replenishment and a helicopter on-deck refuel, also known as a “hot pump.”
Safety was the main priority for the crew during the day’s evolutions.
“It was a great feeling to be able to conduct the evolutions today, especially since our biggest concern is safety,” said Seaman Andrew Giusto, assigned to Shiloh’s deck department. “It is key to keep our heads on a swivel at all times and pay attention.”
Sailors aboard Shiloh must constantly train and prepare for each evolution to ensure the safety and success of every mission.
“It’s the first time in a long time since we have conducted this evolution, so basically it is just getting out there and shaking off the rust,” said Boatswain Mate 2nd Class Chris Rickerby, Shiloh’s landing specialist enlisted. “All flight deck personnel performed very well, considering the amount of time since our last helicopter operations.”
Shiloh’s 1st Lieutenant, Lt. j.g. Zachary Elkin, was impressed with the crew’s role in the success of the event.
“Today was a culmination of four months of training, starting late last Nov., in order to plan and prepare for Helo Day,” said Elkin. “The Sailors of USS Shiloh came together and proved that they can successfully conduct helicopter operations.”
Due to the joint efforts between HSL 51 and the Shiloh, the ship successfully received her flight deck qualification.
Shiloh’s flight deck re-qualification is vital for the cruiser’s preparation to deploy and be active in the Navy’s Fleet Response Program. This effort was one of many to prepare to support the 7th Fleet’s forward-deployed naval forces.