Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dugan Flynn
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate

USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) left NavalAirStationNorthIsland Tuesday to begin Fleet Replacement Squadron Carrier Qualifications (FRSCQ) off the coast of Southern California.

FRSCQ qualify new pilots to conduct operations at sea by their ability to launch and recover from an aircraft carrier. Pilots will fly F/A-18 Hornets, EA-6B Prowlers, F/A-18F Super Hornets, and EA-18G Growlers during this FRSCQ.

“Carrier qualification periods are fairly dynamic events for the flight deck in that there aren’t many planned breaks like during cyclic operations,” said Cmdr. Scott Eanes, Stennis’ Mini Boss. “As soon as one pilot gets his required landings, another one jumps in the plane and starts up again.”

During the FRSCQ, Stennis’ crew plans to qualify about 70 pilots in six days, conducting 450 landings during the day and 300 landings at night. The crew will conduct about 150 touch and go exercises that prepare pilots for flight deck landings when they miss the arresting gear wires and must immediately take off again.

Helping new pilots get their carrier qualifications is a challenge not only to them, but also to the crew members.

“It’s really difficult with new pilots,” said Air Traffic Controlman 2nd Class (AW) Andrew Brice. “We have to pay more attention and keep extra eyes on the new pilots, but it’s a good opportunity for us to get training done before deployment.”

This FRSCQ will be a new experience for more than just the pilots as other Sailors try to get some of their qualifications done as well.

“It will be awhile before I can talk to the pilots, but I’ll still be a plotter during FRSCQs,” said Air Traffic Controlman Airman Alexandra Larsen. “Since I’ve never done one before, I’ll mostly be training and learning my job.”

Regardless of the individual’s role during FRSCQ, Eanes said he is confident that each person will perform their job to the best of their ability.

“The entire Air Department team works very hard to ensure that we are able to provide a ready deck and all the services that go with that to our embarked squadrons whenever called upon,” said Eanes. “I expect the Sailors in Air Department, and the ship as a whole, will perform like the professionals that they are. We have been training as a team since before we left the shipyard to perform the primary mission of this ship: the launch and recovery of aircraft.”

FRSCQ is essential to replenish the fleet with skilled pilots capable of accomplishing the Navy’s mission of global presence.