Work Ups for Catapult Crew
To prepare for a deployment, an Aircraft carrier must do carrier qualifying
or pre-deployment workups, while at home. Carrier Qualifying for aircraft involves many out to sea periods followed by a COMPTUEX, which
is a set-up of war games for 6-8 weeks. Upon completion of Carrier
Qualifications and JTFX (Joint Task Force Exercise) involving US
Special Forces, we have fully qualified the ship as well as our air-wing
to participate in world conflict.
Most divisions on the ship have a 12 on 12 off schedule. However
for the V2 Division a typical day is at least 18 hours and sometimes 20.
We usually start flight operations early in the morning at 0700 (we
must be on station at 0600). Since we are the only ones that can
man the catapults we have to work the entire flight schedule. We
usually don't finish until 2200 or 2300 hours (10:00 or 11:00 pm), by the
time we get to the showers it's almost 0100. If something breaks during
flight operations we have to wait until the end of the night to begin fixing
it. This can take hours of maintenance, we may not finish until around
5:00 a.m. This means we get no sleep because first launch begins again
at 0630 or 0700. Often times we have missed both the lunch and dinner
that was served, only enough time to grab a few hot rolls, (well... not
really they're cold) and get back up to the station.