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Fri, May 30, 2003

USS Theodore Roosevelt Completes 100,000 Successful Catapult Launches

The slam of a catapult slinging a naval aircraft from the flight deck into the air was heard for the 100,000th time aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) April 30. TR celebrated a milestone with the 100,000th successful catapult since its commissioning in 1986. An EA-6B Prowler from Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 141 was the 100,000th aircraft to catapult from TR.

There are four “cats” (catapults) on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, two on the bow and two on the waist. “We like to keep track of numbers and time with milestones such as these. At 100 launches I got a patch, at 1,000 someone might get a plaque. We saved the piece of hold back bar to mount on a plaque,” said TR Air Boss Capt. (select) Vince Drouillard.

The hold back bar prevents the plane from starting down the catapult until a certain amount of steam pressure is released. The topside safety petty officer was Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Calvin Griffin, and the launch officer, or “shooter,” was Lt. William Ellis. "The bow ‘cat’ work center Sailors worked very hard maintaining the equipment to support the air wing,” said Drouillard. Successful flight operations depend on all involved departments working together.

“The accomplishment shows the great teamwork this ship has between different departments,” said Capt. (select) Mark Hunter, TR operations officer. The air wing provides the aircraft, and the pilots do their procedures. The Strike Operations Division of the Operations Department writes the daily air plan.

Carrier Air Traffic Control Center plays a key role. None of it can exist without the supply department getting fuel aboard for the planes during an underway replenishment, he said.

“If we don’t keep enough fuel in our tanks, the fighters can’t fly. Deck Department provides most of the maintenance necessary and Navigation and the Bridge help ensure the safest landing for aircraft. All the departments efforts speak highly of how well we work together,” said Hunter.

“It all comes together in the end,” said Drouillard. One hundred thousand launches marks a significant milestone in the life of TR, and 6,243 of those incident free launches occurred this deployment, including support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. [ANN Thanks Journalist 2nd Class Jessica Benigni, USS Theodore Roosevelt Public Affairs]

FMI: www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn71

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