USS NIMITZ, At Sea: The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) reached a milestone in history when an EA-6B Prowler, assigned to Tactical Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 135, became the 100,000th aircraft to launch off Catapult Number 1 Oct. 7.
The successful launch was flown by Cmdr. Vincent Johnson, the executive officer of VAQ-135.
“It’s obviously a really cool achievement,” said Johnson. “It’s a little piece of history that I can always take with me.”
A ceremony was held Oct. 9 to celebrate this achievement.
“It has been 34 years with 22 sets of work ups, and it’s all possible because of the people that work on this to make it happen,” said Nimitz Commanding Officer Capt. Paul Monger, during the ceremony. “The fact is this has been kept up for years, and it’s tremendous. It’s impressive to watch these guys work every day.”
Nimitz Air Boss Cmdr. Eric Wright kick started the celebration with admiration for Air Department’s V-2 Division that helped to make the launch successful.
“We have about 30 people on that catapult for 10-12 hours a day and around 25 people on nights to make this happen,” said Wright. “When you add it all up, it is years of peoples’ lives invested, and it’s invested for a worthy cause.”
Also helping to make the mission possible was the team of people from Air Department’s V-4 Division consisting of maintainers, catapult and panel operators and crew members on the flight deck.
“I was the deck edge operator, and I was the one who controlled the catapult for the launch,” said Aviation Boatswains Mate Equipment (AW/SW) 2nd Class Alanso ChaconGalindo. “I have been here since 2005, and this is the only catapult out of four that’s reached 100,000 launches.”
“All of my guys are important out here to make all of this happen,” said Chief Aviation Boatswains Mate Equipment (AW) Soji Thomas. “This could not happen without team work.”
By accomplishing this milestone, the crew members of Nimitz showed once again why Nimitz’s motto is ‘Teamwork… a tradition.’
Nimitz is the first Nimitz-class, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and was commissioned in 1975. The ship is named after World War II Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz.
Nimitz Carrier Strike Group (CSG), commanded by Rear Adm. John W. Miller, is comprised of Nimitz, embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11, embarked Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23, and the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Chosin (CG 65). Ships assigned to DESRON 23 include the destroyers USS Pinckney (DDG 91), USS Sampson (DDG 102) and the frigate USS Rentz (FFG 46).
Squadrons from CVW 11 include the “Black Aces” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 41, the “Tophatters” of VFA 14, the “Warhawks” of VFA 97, the “Sidewinders” of VFA 86, the “Indians” of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 6, the “Black Ravens” of Electronic Attack Squadron 135, the “Providers” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30 and the “Wallbangers” of Carrier Airborne Command and Control Squadron 117.
Helicopter detachments include the “Easy Riders” of Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 37, the “Battle Cats” of HSL 43, the “Wolfpack” of HSL 45, the “Scorpions” of HSL 49 and the “Wildcards” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23. Also accompanying the Nimitz CSG are Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11 and the USNS Bridge (T-AOE 10).