Commander, Naval Air Forces, Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, presented the 2016 Admiral Flatley Memorial Award for aviation safety to the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) and 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) during a ceremony on the ship’s flight deck, July 25.
The Flatley Award is based on a comprehensive assessment of contributions towards aviation safety and is presented to one amphibious assault ship with its associated MEU and one aircraft carrier with its associated carrier air wing each year.
The Naval Safety Center named Makin Island and the 11th MEU recipients of the award on March 24, while the team was in the midst of a seven-month deployment to the U.S. 3rd, 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility.
“When the team is firing on all cylinders, from a safety perspective, everything else just falls in line,” said Shoemaker, during the award ceremony. “Makin Island’s record of zero [foreign object damages] and zero mishaps throughout deployment is a tremendous achievement and represents a commitment by all hands. Congratulations to Team Raider on an impressive operational safety record.”
The teamwork between the Sailors and Marines and their commitment to safety not only took place on the flight deck, but also carried over into every department aboard Makin Island during the deployment.
“We’re honored to receive the Flatley Award,” said Makin Island’s Safety Officer, Lt. Cmdr. John Gutierrez. “It signifies the culture of safety that our aviation team adheres to, but is also representative of the high standards of safety and procedural compliance that every Sailor and Marine onboard operates by.”
The Flatley Award is the second major award presented to Makin Island this year. The ship was awarded its second Battle Efficiency (Battle “E”) Award. The Battle “E” is the Navy's top performance award presented only to the ships that achieve the highest standards of performance readiness and efficiency.
“Watching our aviation and safety crews do their work day in and day out throughout workups and during a seven-month combat deployment was impressive,” said Makin Island Commanding Officer Capt. Mark Melson. “Seeing them do it with energy and professionalism, and without a single mishap, was truly inspirational. This group of Sailors and Marines defines teamwork and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
USS Ronald Regan (CVN 76) and embarked Carrier Air Wing 5 (CVW-5) were named winners of the aircraft carrier category.
Makin Island returned from deployment May 15.
The ship is currently undergoing a depot-level planned maintenance availability at Naval Station San Diego. During the maintenance period, Makin Island will receive numerous equipment upgrades, modernization, and general repairs, including modifications to accept the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. The availability will also help to ensure the ship will reach the full service life of at least 40 years.