Tag Archives: CVW-8

Ford completes flight deck certification (1711 days after commissioning)

“War Party Rocks!!!” A Carrier Air Wing Eight (CVW-8) F-18E Rhino of Strike Fighter Squadron 87 (VFA-87), the Golden Warriors, traps aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) during her recent FDC and CATCC. Formed in 1968 to fly A-7s, the Warriors were in combat over Vietnam from the decks of USS Ticonderoga just nine months after they were established. They recently made headlines downing a Syrian Su-22 in 2017, the Superhornet’s first ATA victory.

Class-leading supercarrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), once she gets all the bugs worked out, will be the most capable flattop that has ever flat-topped. Commissioned on 22 July 2017 after a nearly eight-year build process, the warship that was ordered in 2008 is gearing up for her first real-world deployment later this year and there are signs things are going right.

Chief among these? With famed and historic CVW-8 aboard– which formed in 1943 and sailed for combat aboard USS Intrepid back in WWIIFord completed her Flight Deck Certification (FDC) and Carrier Air Traffic Control Center (CATCC) certification on March 29.

Via CVN78’s PAO:

Once out to sea, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, E-2D Hawkeyes, and MH-60S Nighthawks assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 conducted operations to prove the ship’s and crew’s capabilities. To achieve certification, Ford conducted more than 400 day and night catapult launches and trap recoveries. Prior to getting underway, Ford’s air department was evaluated on its ability to respond to flight deck emergencies and firefighting.

“Ford and Carrier Air Wing 8 were meticulous during the whole certification evolution,” said Senior Chief Aviation Boatswain Mate (Equipment) Carl Higdon, the air department’s leading chief petty officer. “Every Sailor aboard contributed to our success of the mission. I’m really proud to be a part of this team.”

Following flight deck certification, flight operations continued to keep pilots’ carrier qualifications and proficiency current, demonstrating Ford’s contribution to air wing and fleet readiness through capabilities provided by the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launching System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG).

“Flight deck certification is a significant milestone in preparation for our first deployment,” said Capt. Paul Lanzilotta, Ford’s Commanding Officer. “We have more tests and evaluations to complete during our next underway periods, and I have no doubt that our Sailors will rise to the challenge and accomplish the mission.”

Ford will head underway again this month for additional milestone events that will prepare the ship for a scheduled deployment later this year.

The Trip Trey, now 30 Years Gone

Formed at Cherry Point on 1 August 1943 as Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 333 (VMSB-333), the logically named “Trip Trey” began their career flying SBD Dauntless dive-bombers from Midway on anti-shipping patrols.

Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless Dive Bomber of VMSB-333 over Wake Island.

The original “Trip Trey” crest, circa 1943. From the Claude A. Larkin Collection (COLL/791) at the Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division

Adding an “F” designation to their name after transitioning to F4U Corsairs in late 1944, VMBF-333 was deactivated just two months after VJ-Day.

Reformed during the Korean War as Marine Attack Squadron 333 (VMA-333), they transited quickly through the F6F Hellcat to the A-1 Skyraider and entered the jet age in 1957 with FJ-3 Fury jet fighters, again adding the “F” to their title to become VMF-333, after which adding the triple shamrock to their planes and going by the “Fighting Shamrocks” as well as the more commonly applied “Trip Trey.”

Next came the F-8 Crusader– with which they ran hot pad alerts at GTMO during the Cuban Missile Crisis– and then the F-4 Phantom in 1966.

The Shamrocks would deploy aboard USS America (CVA-66) in 1972, picking up the only Marine MiG kill of the Vietnam War.

Remaining part of CVW-8 through most of the 1970s and carrying “AJ” tail flashes, they would ship out with the brand-new supercarrier USS Nimitz in 1976 on a Med Cruise.

Four U.S. Marine Corps McDonnell F-4J Phantom II (BuNo 153848, 155523, 155525, 155511) from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron VMFA-333 “Shamrocks” in flight. VMFA-333 was assigned to Carrier Air Wing 8 (CVW-8) aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) for a deployment to the Mediterranean Sea from 7 July 1976 to 7 February 1977. U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 1996.253.7315.009 by PH2c Klaus Homedale, U.S. Navy

An air-to-air silhouetted view of a Marine Strike Fighter Squadron 333 (VMFA-333) F-4 Phantom II aircraft, 9/1/1985. At this time the Shamrocks were one of the few active duty Phantom operators in the U.S. military. U.S. Navy photo DNSC9011796 by LCDR David Baranak, via NARA (330-CFD-DN-SC-90-11796).

The last regular Marine squadron to operate the big smoky Phantom, they transitioned to F-18A Hornets in October 1987, which they would fly during Desert Storm just three years later, delivering over 2 million pounds of ordnance (typically 2,000-pounds at a time) against Iraqi forces across a staggering 700 combat sorties.

VMFA-333, Operation Desert Storm, 1991 USMC photo

“Over the Oil Fields,” by Col H. Avery Chenoweth, USMCR. “Towards the war’s end, the Bahrain-based Shamrocks of VMFA-333 were able to survey damage caused by their bombing runs. Previously, the ground fire had caused the F/A-18’s to pull out rapidly from their dive-bombing runs, no chance for visual confirmation.” Photo via the National Museum of The Marine Corps.

Returning from the sandbox, the “Fighting Shamrocks” were deactivated on 31 March 1992 during the post-Cold War drawdown.

You Have to Admit, the Tomcat was about as Sexy as it gets…

051010-N-5088T-001 Persian Gulf (Oct. 10, 2005) Ð A specially painted F-14D Tomcat, assigned to the ÒBlacklionsÓ of Fighter Squadron Two One Three (VF-213), conducts a mission over the Persian Gulf. VF-213 is assigned to Carrier Air Wing Eight (CVW-8), currently embarked aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). U.S. Navy photo by Lt.j.g. Scott Timmester (RELEASED)

051010-N-5088T-001 Persian Gulf (Oct. 10, 2005) A specially painted F-14D Tomcat, assigned to the Blacklions of Fighter Squadron Two One Three (VF-213), conducts a mission over the Persian Gulf. VF-213 is assigned to Carrier Air Wing Eight (CVW-8), currently embarked aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). U.S. Navy photo by Lt.j.g. Scott Timmester (RELEASED). The Tomcat was retired from US Naval service on 22 September 2006, just 11 months after this picture was taken.