Visit Aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78): all you need to know about US Navy’s newest and most advanced aircraft carrier

“This ship and crew are actively reshaping the face of our Navy’s capabilities and strengthening the future of Naval Aviation,” Capt. Rick Burgess, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) commanding officer.

On 7 Aug 2023, our correspondent Angelo Romano [CLICK HERE to buy the awesome books he wrote about US Naval Aviation], visited USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), during a media embark, off the eastern coast of Sicily, Italy. Angelo flew out of NAS Sigonella onboard a VRC-40 DET 2 C-2A NP and made the eleventh arrested landing in his 37-years career as freelance historian and photographer.

VRC-40 DET 2 C-2A NP 162159 being readied for the COD flight from NAS Sigonella to CVN 78 (Angelo Romano photo)

The capital ship of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group (GRFCSG), the first-in-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), departed her home port Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, for a routine deployment, on May 2.

On 7 Aug 2023, our correspondent Angelo Romano, visited USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), during a media embark, off the eastern coast of Sicily, Italy. Angelo flew out of NAS Sigonella onboard a VRC-40 DET 2 C-2A NP and made the eleventh arrested landing in his 37-years career as freelance historian and photographer.
Close-up of the aft ramp edge of C-2A NP 162159 (originally delivered on 20 October 1987) with reference to the SUNUP (establishment) and upcoming SUNDOWN (disestablishment) of VRC-40 (Angelo Romano photo)

“This strike group is the cornerstone of our Navy’s forward operations, capable of meeting any tasking provided by regional combatant commanders to ensure peace and stability at sea,” said Rear Adm. Greg Huffman, Commander, Carrier Strike Group 12. “Our presence at sea throughout the deployment will provide reassurance to our partners and Allies that sea lanes will remain open, and our joint operations will demonstrate our commitment to interoperability and maritime stability.”

  Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) aircraft carrier front view (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jackson Adkins)
The first-in-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) transits the North Sea with embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, May 21, 2023. The ships sailing include the first-in-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruisier USS Normandy (CG 60), ORP Gen Tadeusz Kosciuszko (F273), Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116), FGS Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (F218), ESPS Alvaro De Bazan (F101), and HNLMS Van Amstel (F831). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jackson Adkins)
The world’s largest aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) steams in the Adriatic Sea, June 23, 2023. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jackson Adkins)

Ford’s second deployment marks the flagship’s first combat deployment, following its two-month deployment to the U.S. SECOND and SIXTH Fleet areas of operation in autumn 2022. “The Sailors of Gerald R. Ford are ready and able to perform because of the strenuous training they have put in to get this ship ready to deploy, and also in large part to the support of their families and friends,” said Capt. Rick Burgess, Ford’s commanding officer. “This ship and crew are actively reshaping the face of our Navy’s capabilities and strengthening the future of Naval Aviation.”

(Angelo Romano photo)

The GRFCSG provides an inherently flexible naval force capable of deploying across combatant commands to meet emerging missions, deter potential adversaries, reassure allies and partners, enhance security and guarantee the free flow of global commerce.

An F/A-18F Super Hornet, attached to the “Blacklions” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213 prepares to launch from the flight deck of the  USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) in the Adriatic Sea, July, 8, 2023.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class William Spears)

The GRFCSG consists of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12 staff, Gerald R. Ford, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 2 staff and units, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) and the Information Warfare Commander. In total, the GRFCSG deploys with more than 6,000 Sailors across all platforms ready to respond globally to combatant commander’s tasking.

The ships of DESRON 2 are the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers USS Ramage (DDG 61), USS McFaul (DDG 74) and USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116).

The squadrons of Carrier Air Wing EIGHT (CVW-8) embarked aboard Gerald R. Ford are:

  • VFA-37 BULLS FA-18E AJ100 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 37
  • VFA-213 BLACK LIONS FA-18F AJ200 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213
  • VFA-31 TOMCATTERS FA-18E AJ300 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31
  • VFA-87 GOLDEN WARRIORS FA-18E AJ400 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 87
  • VAQ-142 GRAY WOLVES EA-18G AJ500 Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 142
  • VAW-124 BEAR ACES E-2D AJ600 Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 124
  • HSC-9 TRIDENTS MH-60S AJ610 Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 9
  • HSM-70 SPARTANS MH-60R AJ700 Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 70
  • VRC-40 DET 2 RAWHIDES C-2A NP (CD)41/46 Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40

Ford is the U.S. Navy’s newest and most advanced aircraft carrier. As the first-in-class ship of Ford-class aircraft carriers, CVN-78 represents a generational leap in the U.S. Navy’s capacity to project power on a global scale. Ford-class aircraft carriers introduce 23 new technologies, including Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, Advanced Arresting Gear and Advanced Weapons Elevators. The new systems incorporated onto Ford-class ships are designed to generate a higher sortie rate with a 20 percent smaller crew than a Nimitz Class carrier, paving the way forward for Naval Aviation.

Cruise chronology (up to 18 Aug 2023)

02May2023, departed home port Naval Station Norfolk on her first global deployment;
02May-08May2023, Virginia Capes Operating Area;
09May-l4May2023, Atlantic Ocean;
15May-20May2023, Eastern Atlantic Ocean;
21May-23May2023, North Sea;
24May2023, transited the Oslo fjord for its first port call in Oslo, Norway;
24May-28May2023, anchored off the south of Oslo, Norway;
29May-01Jun2023, North Sea;
02Jun-03Jun2023, Norwegian Sea;
04Jun-06Jun2023, Baltic Operations 2023 in the Norwegian Sea;
07Jun-10Jun2023, North Sea;
11Jun-12Jun2023, Celtic Sea;
12Jun-16Jun2023, U.S. Sixth Fleet (SIXTHFLT) and STRIKFORNATO-led BALTOPS 23 was the premier annual maritime-focused exercise uniting 19 NATO Allies and one NATO to provide complex training designed to strengthen the combined response capability critical to preserving the freedom of navigation and security in the Baltic Sea.
12Jun-23Jun2023 CVW-8 DET at Hohn Air Base, Germany, for the exercise Air Defender 2023 (AD23), the largest deployment exercise of air forces in NATO’s history: up to 10.000 exercise participants from 25 nations, with 250 aircraft, trained air operations in European airspace, under the command of the German Air Force
13Jun2023, Eastern Atlantic Ocean;
14Jun2023, Bay of Biscay 15Jun2023, transited the Strait of Gibraltar, in-chopped Mediterranean Sea;
15Jun-17Jun2023, Western Mediterranean Sea;
18Jun-l9Jun2023, Ionian Sea;
20Jun-25Jun2023, Adriatic Sea;
26Jun-29Jun2023, anchored off the coast of Split, Croatia;
30Jun-07Jul2023, Adriatic Sea;
08Jul-10Jul2023, Ionian Sea;
11Jul-22Jul 2023, Adriatic Sea;
23Jul-24Jul2023, Ionian Sea;
25Jul-26Jul2023, Saronic Gulf;
27Jul-30Jul2023, anchored in Phaleron Bay, off the coast of Piraeus, Greece;
31Jul2023, Saronic Gulf, Greece;
01Aug2023, South-West of Crete, Greece;
02Aug-11Aug2023, central Mediterranean, Exercise Sage Wolverine – Ships from multinational NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) participated in a series of maritime training exercises alongside the world’s largest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford during Exercise Sage Wolverine in the Mediterranean Sea. From 2 August to 11 August, Allied forces from Greece, Italy, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States honed their skills in maritime warfighting and seamless interoperability.
09Aug-18Aug2023, Adriatic Sea, Large Scale Exercise 2023 (LSE2023), a live, virtual, and constructive, globally integrated exercise designed to refine the synchronization of U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps maritime operations, across six maritime component commands, seven numbered fleets, and 22 time zones. More than 10,000 Sailors and Marines participated in LSE2023, one of the maritime service’s largest exercises.

Two Ford’s Super Hornets fly in formation with a P-8 Poseidon (U.S. Navy photo)
F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to the “Ragin’ Bulls” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 37 conducts a low pass above the USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) flight deck, May 14, 2023.(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nolan Pennington)
An F/A-18F Super Hornet, attached to the “Blacklions” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213, launches from the USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) flight deck, June 5, 2023. V (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nolan Pennington)
F/A-18E 168837 /AJ300 VFA-31 (Patrick Roegies photo)
F/A-18E 168910/AJ-400 VFA-87 (Patrick Roegies photo)
An EA-18G Growler, attached to the “Gray Wolves” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 142 prepares to land on USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) flight deck, May 14, 2023. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nolan Pennington)
Sailors assigned to the world’s largest aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford’s(CVN 78) air department perform final checks before launching an E-2D Hawkeye, assigned to the “Bear Aces” of Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 124, off the flight deck, June 30, 2023. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Simon Pike)

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Fact Sheet

Background

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is the U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, and is the flag ship of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group. As the first-in-class ship for the next generation of aircraft carriers, Ford introduces 23 technologies to deliver greater lethality, survivability and joint interoperability while reducing operating and maintenance costs. CVN 78 is the first new carrier designed in over 40 years, and it was designed to have the flexibility to operate with future generations of aircraft.

Ship’s namesake

Born in 1913, Gerald R. Ford grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and earned the rank of Eagle Scout, the Boy Scout’s highest rank. He attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he became a star football player for the Wolverines, with opportunities to pursue professional football. Instead, he chose the legal profession and went to Yale Law School, earning a Bachelor of Law degree in 1941.
Naval Service

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Ford joined the U.S. Naval Reserve and was assigned to USS Monterey (CVL-26). In 1943, he was sent to the South Pacific and took part in the battles for Truk, Guam, Fom10sa, Marianas and the Philippines. He was honorably released from active duty in 1946, having reached the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

After World War II, Ford returned to Grand Rapids and he returned to the law firm he started with Pat Buchanan. In 1948 he ran for congressional office and began tl1e first of 13 terms in the House of Representatives. As a congressman, Ford developed a reputation for integrity and the ability to work with both Republicans and Democrats.

President

Gerald R. Ford became Vice President of the United States in 1973 following tl1c resignation of Vice President Spiro Agnew. On Aug. 9, 1974, Ford became President following the resignation of President Nixon during tl1e Watergate scandal.

As President, Ford strove to bring unity to a nation disillusioned by the Watergate scandal, Vietnam War and an economic recession. Ford’s legacy is one of a man who placed service above self, and who served the nation with the highest level of personal integrity.

A U.S. Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet with Strike Fighter Squadron 213 (VFA-213), assigned to aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN-78) air department prepares to launch from Hohn Air Base, Germany, June 12, 2023 during exercise Air Defender 2023 (AD23). Exercise AD23 integrates both U.S. and allied air-power to defend shared values, while leveraging and strengthening vital partnerships to deter aggression around the world. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Nathan Wingate)
F/A-18E AJ-404 (Jan van Waarde photo)
EA-18G AJ-500 (Jan van Waarde photo)

Background

The USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is a first-in-class aircraft carrier, and the fast-new aircraft carrier designed in over 40 years. The Sailors who serve aboard Ford are tasked with ensuring tl1e ship is able to execute national tasking for decades to come.

Although it appears similar to a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, there are many features that make Ford unique. First-in-class technology includes a new nuclear plant, tl1c ability to generate nearly three times the amount of electrical power, innovative advanced arresting gear and the electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS).

Direct comparison between Nimitz and Ford Classes

Nimitz Class

· Steam catapult system
· Three hangar bays and four aircraft elevators
· Fueling stations only on flight deck catwalks
· Weapons elevators have a conveyor belt system

Ford Class

· Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS)
· Two hangar bays and three aircraft elevators
· In-deck fueling stations on flight deck
· Only ship with advanced weapons/ stores elevators
· Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG)
· Dual-Band Radar (DBR)
· Island is smaller and further aft on the flight deck
EMALS replaces the steam catapult system traditionally used to launch aircraft and will expand the aircraft launch envelope, paving the way for innovations in manned/ unmanned aircraft as well as providing tl1e opportunity for other technological advancements in the future.

An E-2D Hawkeye, attached to the “Bear Aces” of Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 124, lands on the flight deck of the first-in-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), May 4, 2023.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Maxwell Orlosky)
E-2D AJ-604 (Patrick Roegies photo)
 MH-60s line (Patrick Roegies photo)
Sailors, assigned to the worldÕs largest aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), conduct flight operations on the flight deck, July 1, 2023. Gerald R. Ford is the U.S. NavyÕs newest and most advanced aircraft carrier, representing a generational leap in the U.S. NavyÕs capacity to project power on a global scale. The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe area of operations, employed by U.S. Sixth Fleet to defend U.S., allied, and partner interests. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nolan Pennington)

Features

· Keel Laid: November 2009
· Christening: November 9, 2013
· Propulsion: Two nuclear reactors, four shafts
· Length: 1,092 feet
· Beam: 134 feet,
· Flight Deck Width: 256 feet
· Displacement: Approximately 100,000 long tons full load
· Speed: 30+ knots (34.5+ miles per hour)
· Builder: Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding
· Ship’s Sponsor: Susan Ford Bales, daughter of Gerald R. Ford
· Crew: 4,539 (ship, air wing and staff); 2,700 (ship’s company)
· Armament: Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile, Rolling Airframe Missile, Close-in Weapons System (CIWS)
· Aircraft: 75+

Technologies Introduced to Ford-Class

· Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG)
· Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS)
· Dual Band Radar (DBR)
· Advanced Weapons Elevators (AWE) and Vertically Integrated Stores Elevators
· Propulsion Plants
· Zonal Electrical Distribution System (ZEDS)
· Electrical Power Distribution System (400 HZ Static Frequency Converters)
· All Electric Auxiliary Systems
· Machinery Control and Monitoring Systems (MCMS)
· Combat Systems Local Area Network (CSLAN)
· Consolidated Afloat Network and Enterprise Services (CANES)
· Ships Self Defense System (SSDS)
· Steering and Hydraulic Control Systems
· Navigation Network
· Heavy Underway Replenishment
· JP-5 (carrier jet fuel) Fuel Handling and Storage
· Jet Blast Deflectors (JBD)
· Aviation Electrical Servicing System (AESS)
· Aircraft Elevators, automatic deck stanchions and associated support systems
· CVN 78 Video Distribution System
· Hangar Bay Conflagration Monitoring Station
· Drainage and Ballast System
· Magazine Sprinkling
· Plasma Arc Waste Destruction System

An MH-60R Sea Hawk, attached to the “Spartans” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 70, conducts flight operations from the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), July 20, 2023. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nolan Pennington)
An MH-60S Knighthawk, attached to the “Tridents” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 9, transports cargo during a replenishment-at-sea on the world’s largest aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) flight deck, June 2, 2023.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nolan Pennington)
F/A-18E 169075/ AJ-403 VFA-87 on landing (Patrick Roegies photo)

Flight Deck (Largest and most advanced flight deck in the fleet)

· EMALS — Upgraded from steam catapults, EMALS on Ford-class uses stored kinetic energy and solid-state electrical power conversion to launch aircraft, permitting a high degree of computer control, monitoring and automation. EMALS improves takeoff speed while reducing wear on aircraft. Reduces cost for maintenance and support. Reduces personnel required to operate by one third. Allows for quieter and cooler work and living spaces for Sailors. Can launch aircraft every 30 seconds (60 seconds on average to include reload time).
· AAG — Recovers a greater range of aircraft and limits the impact load on aircraft.
· Electromechanical Actuators (EMA) — For jet blast deflectors and barricade stanchion.
· Length — 1,092 ft. (more than 3.5 football fields)
· Width — 256 ft.
· Island Placement — 140 feet further aft from Nimitz-class carriers, increasing efficacy, creating more “real estate” on the flight deck to launch and recover aircraft.
· In-Deck Fueling — Ford-class has the ability to refuel jets from the center of the flight deck, improving the ship’s ability to reload and relaunch aircraft.

TAC numbers “Bullseyes”

· Frame number: Frames run the length of the ship and indicate how far forward or aft you are, starting at frame O (bow) and ending at frame 265 (stem). Spaces forward of the bow are labeled with frame letters A-L.
· Deck number: The Hangar Bay serves as the main deck (1). From there, the numbers increase the further away you get. An ” O” is added to levels above the hangar bay.
· Port/Starboard: if a number is odd, you are on the ship’s starboard side. If a number is even, you are on the ship’s port side. A higher number indicates that you are farther outboard from the center of the ship.
· Space Use: The specific use of a space is indicated by the assigned letters:
A – Dry Storage
C- Control Spaces
L – Living Spaces
M – Ammunition
Q – Offices
T – Vertical Access

The “ouija board” (the ouija board is a replica of the carrier’s flight deck and hangar deck, on a scale of 1/16 inch to one foot) inside the flight deck control (Angelo Romano photo)

Electrical Power Distribution System
Generates nearly three times the amount of electrical power from Nimitz-class.

Advanced Weapons Elevators (AWE)
AWE moves more ordnance faster and requires less maintenance and personnel to operate. Ford has 11 weapons elevators with 4 upper stage elevators and 7 lower stage, enhancing the ship’s ability to move 24,000 pounds per load at a speed greater than Nimitz-class carriers.

Plasma Arc Waste Destruction System (PAWDS)
Efficiently processes shipboard waste in an environmentally responsible fashion in compliance with national and international laws, rules, regulations and standards. PAWDS burns an average of 2,500 to 3,000 pounds of trash on a normal day underway onboard Ford at 9,032 degrees Fahrenheit. With the use of PAWDS, 100 pounds of trash can be reduced to one pound of ash.

Dual Band Radar (DBR)
DBR is the primary radar for contacting aircraft. Its two functions are multifunction radar and volume
search radar, which together provides a complete 360-degree air picture around the ship.

Sage: a special dog Part of the first Expanded Operational Stress Control Canine Pilot Program
Sage, a three-year-old female yellow Labrador Retriever, is deployed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), May 3, as part of the Expanded Operational Stress Control Canine pilot program.

This innovative program is aimed at providing a unique outlet and comfort for Sailors during deployment, with the goal of helping them cope with the operational stress associated with their work.

Sage is part of the warfighter toughness mental health and resiliency team on the Gerald R. Ford and is specially trained to help Sailors deal with the challenges of deployment. Animals have been proven to be an effective form of stress relief and can provide a sense of companionship, which is why Sage is expected to be an invaluable asset to the crew during their deployment.

Sage, a three-year-old female yellow Labrador Retriever, is deployed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), May 3, as part of the Expanded Operational Stress Control Canine pilot program. Gerald R. Ford is the flagship of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group. As the first-in-class ship of Ford-class aircraft carriers, CVN 78 represents a generational leap in the U.S. Navy’s capacity to project power on a global scale. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jackson Adkins)

CARRIER STRIKE GROUP TWELVE “READY ON ARRIVAL”

RADM Erik Eslich
Commander, Carrier Strike Group Twelve (CSG-12)

Rear Adm. Eslich is a native of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the United States Naval Academy in May 1993. He also earned a master’s degree in strategic studies from the Naval War College.

As a career surface warfare officer, he served tours aboard USS Lake Erie (CG 70), USS Wasp (LHD 1), USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79), and Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group Eight. Eslich served as executive officer for both USS O’Kane (DDG 77) and USS Ramage (DDG 61) and he went on to command both USS Ramage and Destroyer Squadron Two (CDS 2), throughout which, he has made multiple deployments in support of training and real-world operations.

Ashore, he served as a U.S. House of Representatives case officer, Office of Legislative Affairs; executive assistant to Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic; global requirements officer at the Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense Organization (JIAMDO); surface warfare community manager at the Bureau of Navy Personnel (BUPERS-3); and as executive assistant to the Deputy Commander and Commander at U.S. Fleet Forces Command; and Deputy Commander at Seventh Fleet.

Eslich’s personal decorations include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various campaign and service medals and ribbons.
Eslich began serving as Commander, Carrier Strike Group Twelve, in May 2023.

CAPT Richard G. Burgess
Commanding Officer
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)

Capt. Rick Burgess, a native of Bellevue, WA, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and was designated a Naval Flight Officer in 1998.

Operational assignments include tours with Fighter Squadron (VF) 31, USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72); Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102, USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63); and two tours with VFA-103, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) and USS George Washington (CVN 73).

EA-18G AJ-504 (U.S. Navy photo)
F/A-18E AJ-310 (U.S. Navy photo)
VRC-40 C-2 (U.S. Navy photo)

Shore assignments include service as Action Officer in the House Liaison Office, Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA); TOPGUN Instructor with Navy Fighter Weapons School; Strike Fighter Placement Officer (PERS-433B) with Navy Personnel Command (NPC); Branch Chief, Global Missile Defense Requirements at Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense Organization (JIAMDO), the Joint Staff (J8); and Homeland Defense Technologies Project Lead with The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL).

He completed the Air Command and Staff College Non-Resident Program, earned a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from Naval War College, and has a graduate certificate in Nuclear Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School.

He commanded VFA-103, The Jolly Rogers, from July 2013 to November 2014; served as Executive Officer of USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) from June 2019 to December 2020; and commanded the nation’s first Expeditionary Sea Base, USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), from May 2021 to August 2022.

Burgess has flown more than 3,500 hours in the F-14, F-15, F-16, and F/A-18. His personal decorations include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, and various individual and unit campaign awards.

F/A-18E AJ-107 (U.S. Navy photo)
F/A-18F AJ-200 (U.S. Navy photo)
VAQ-142 EA-18G (U.S. Navy photo)

CAPT Dan S. Catlin
Commander Air Wing (CAG) EIGHT (CVW-8)

Capt. Dan “OJ” Catlin is a native of La Porte, Texas. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force after graduating from the United States Air Force Academy in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science in International Relations. He was designated a naval aviator in May 2003 after completing an inter-service transfer to the United States Navy.

Catlin’s fleet assignments include operational tours with the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, the “Stingers” of VFA-113, and the “Sunliners” of VFA-81. During these assignments, he flew numerous combat missions in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, New Dawn, and Inherent Resolve. While in command of VFA-81, Catlin was recognized as the recipient of the 2016 Commander, Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic Navy and Marine Corps Association O-5 Leadership Award.

Shore duty assignments for Catlin include an instructor tour with the “Flying Eagles” of VFA-122, NATO Allied Maritime Command in Northwood, England, and command of the “Gladiators” of VFA-106. While assigned to the “Flying Eagles”, he served as a super hornet tactical demonstration team pilot and was the recipient of the 2008 Instructor Pilot of the Year Award. Following his first command tour, he earned a master’s degree in National Security Strategy from the prestigious National War College in Washington D.C.

Catlin has accumulated over 3,200 flight hours in various models of F/A-18 aircraft and over 750 arrested carrier landings. He humbly credits his various personal and unit awards to the outstanding men and women he has had the privilege of serving with throughout his career.

F/A-18E AJ-106 (U.S. Navy photo)
F/A-18E AJ-103 in tanker configuration (U.S. Navy photo)
(U.S. Navy photo)

Photos by Angelo Romano, Patrick Roegies, and U.S. Navy.

Acknowledgements: ENS Paula Niederland with CVN 78 PAO; LCDR Tyler J. Barker and LTJG Swanson A. Tiona, with CNE-CAN-C6F PAO.

Angelo Romano

Born in Naples, Italy in 1955, Angelo Romano, started being interested about US Navy at the age of 8, after an episode that sparked his passion for this topic. In 1963, the USS Enterprise (CVAN-65) called port in Naples, on her maiden voyage around the world, and his parents were invited aboard to visit the new carrier. However, because of his age, he was left ashore! Ten years later, in a sort of “revenge,” Angelo visited all the US Navy aircraft carriers that called port in Naples, between 1970 and 2021. Angelo even experienced the thrill of eleven traps (or carrier landings) and catapult launches from aircraft carriers with Cargo On Board Delivery (COD) aircraft and Vertical On Board Delivery (VOD) helicopters. In 1973, he joined the small historic group of Neapolitan aviation photographers (including Carlo Tripodi, and the long-gone Angelo Gialanella and Giorgio Salerno). He began shooting photos in various Italian locations, and exchanging slides with photographers in the US and Japan, expanding his collection of US Navy aircraft photos. In 1984, Angelo graduated in Aeronautical Engineering at the Naples University, and began a long and fruitful career in the aviation industry, working for prestigious companies such as Alenia, ATR and Geven. Over the years, Angelo contributed as a freelance with articles for aerospace magazines such as Aerei, Air Fan, Le Moniteur de l'Aeronautique, Volare, and the prestigious Aviation Week & Space Technology. His articles and reports represented a turning point in his publishing activity, and were the prelude to the release of his first book WINGS FROM CORAL SEA, a photo-album of the carrier embark aboard the USS Coral Sea (CV- 43), during the first cruise with the F/A-18A Hornets, in 1985-86. This book was followed by another twelve, which have been a great success among fans of the US Navy and military aviation in general. In carrying out his freelance activity, Angelo has often traveled to the United States, visiting various archives, meeting with famous photographers and collectors such as Duane Kasulka, Dave Lucabaugh, Douglas Olson, Jim Sullivan, William Swisher, and many others. During these visits Angelo collected precious photographic material, which was then merged with his collection of prints and slides, in a comprehensive digital/still archive (nicknamed Naval Aviation Archives - NAVARCHIVES). The archive includes photos and documents about US Navy and Marine aircraft, operational from 1911 to the present day. It is composed of a physical section, consisting of about 120,000 slides, 3,000 negatives, 5,000 color and black and white prints and 1,500 books and magazines, and a digital section, with about 2,000,000 scans of photos from private collections, historical archives, and museums. NAVARCHIVES is filed by squadrons, and by aircraft type: it represents a unique reference source for Angelo and researchers worldwide who may need his support for their books or articles. In 2010, Angelo had the privilege of being chosen by the famous photographer and editor of Tailhook magazine, Bob Lawson, to become the curator of his personal collection. Thousands of original slides and photos, taken by Lawson during his 30-year career as a US Navy photographer, were thus entrusted to the custody and care of Angelo, who filed and embedded them into NAVARCHIVES. Since his retirement in 2021, he concentrated on organizing his archive and published an average of one book per year.

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McDonnell Douglas YC-15 Vs Boeing YC-14 The McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) YC-15 was a four-engine… Read More

2 days ago

“Wild Weasel sighted SAM site—Destroyed same.” The story of Wild Weasel’s First Kill

The F-100F Wild Weasel After the single-seat, supersonic F-100 fighter entered service in 1954, it… Read More

2 days ago

USAF predicted a six-year U-2 development plan but thanks to CIA spymaster Richard Bissell and Lockheed Aircraft engineer Kelly Johnson it was deployed in slightly over a year

Richard Bissell Richard Bissell, the senior Government official who took responsibility for the Central Intelligence… Read More

3 days ago

Photos show Wright-Patterson AFB and US Air Force Museum damaged by tornado

Wright-Patterson AFB and US Air Force Museum damaged by tornado On Feb. 28, 2024 Wright-Patterson… Read More

3 days ago