The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) returned to Naval Station Norfolk after concluding initial Basic Phase testing and assessments, May 11, 2023.
During the month-long underway, Wasp’s crew completed certifications in multiple mobility areas. Assessors from Afloat Training Group (ATG) Norfolk inspected warfighting competency in order to qualify the ship for sea operations.
The inspections included Mobility Aviation (MOB-A), Mobility Seamanship (MOB-S) Mobility Engineering (MOB-E), Mobility Damage Control (MOB-D) and amphibious warfare (AMW).
In order to pass MOB-A, Sailors had to complete multiple evolutions landing and launching different types of aircraft, to include the CH-53E Super Stallion, UH-1Y Venom, MH-53E Sea Dragon, MV-22B Osprey, MH-60S Sea Hawk, AH-1Z Viper and AV-8B Harrier II.
“We performed at a varsity level, and the ATG inspectors were impressed” said Lt. Nandesh Baliraj, Wasp’s aircraft handling officer. “We have some of the most knowledgeable directors. We have third class petty officers that are calling the flight deck, which is a pretty high-level qualification, and launching jets which is a qualification that a chief petty officer or above would normally hold. This was a testament to their hard work and the amount of time they trained to get to this point. All of our air Sailors are one hundred percent combat ready.”
Wasp’s engineering department worked tirelessly to certify MOB-E. The certification inspections included the combating casualties of varying severity for loss of boilers, class “C” fires, main space fires, and major oil leaks. The crew had to simultaneously handle unexpected equipment and operating conditions and maintain the ship’s fundamental facilities, all while managing demanding life at sea.
“During this underway period, as an engineering department, we were challenged mentally, physically, and emotionally on our toughness and capabilities in an effort to show how great USS Wasp really is; needless to say, we answered every call we received,” Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Parris Walker said. “Our engineering department completed a cold-light off assessment in one week without any safety hits, which has never been accomplished before on any other LHD. We followed that up by completing DCMA and a hot light-off assessment. Success is no accident, it is hard work, perseverance, learning, sacrifice and most of all love of what you do and are learning to do.”
One of Wasp’s essential abilities is being able to undertake a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), which is not possible to achieve without first qualifying MOB-S during Basic Phase. After pulling back into Naval Station Norfolk Wasp’s deck department is continuing their inspections during the time leading up to participating in Fleet Week New York.
“Deck department executed our amphibious warfare training event,” said Lt. Cmdr. Brian Blocton, Wasp’s 1st Lieutenant. “While it was a deck-centric exercise, it really took inter-departmental support from both operations department and engineering department to plan and execute. Collectively, we were able to ballast the ship to a controlled depth, control landing craft utilities (LCU) and landing craft, air cushions (LCAC) for a beach landing, and then safely guide both crafts into the well deck. Once the crafts were in the well, we had to demonstrate an emergency recovery, provide services, and safely secure it. My Sailors have been preparing non-stop for months. I’m extremely proud of my team and the work that we’ve done.”