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NEWS | Feb. 2, 2015

Bonhomme Richard Completes Flight Deck Certification

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cameron McCulloch USS Bonhomme Richard Public Affairs

The forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) successfully completed flight deck certification, Jan. 29, with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) (Reinforced) 262, Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 231 and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25 Det. 6.

The Afloat Training Group (ATG) inspected the ship's fueling capabilities, vertical replenishment, crash and salvage operations, material readiness, day and night operations and many other flight deck operations.

"When we did all our drills, we had the flight deck back for less than a month," said Master Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate Frank Bartanowitz, Air Department leading chief petty officer. "The crew did a solid job and even the newer members were professionals and really shined."

Bonhomme Richard had not conducted flight operations since April 2014.

"We had a very short amount of time to prepare, but the Sailors performed an outstanding job," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Mark Alexander, V-1 leading petty officer. "There were a large amount of new Sailors and this is their first deployment."

For more than a dozen new airmen, out to sea for the first time, and going through their first flight deck certification this was an important step to becoming combat ready for the Air Department team.

"Training was high tempo, hands on and by the book," said Alexander. "Through their hard work, all those new Sailors are now ready for deployment."

With certification complete and aircraft on board, the Air Department team can utilize their Sailors' newly trained skills to ensure the Bonhomme Richard team is ready for any mission.

"I enjoyed the drills and training," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate Airman Joshua Tayag. "Having the flight deck back, carrying aircraft again and ensuring we were ready for the mission; all of that felt good."

With all the inspection elements behind them, Bonhomme Richard's leadership can take a look back at the hard work and dedication of the crew.

"After not operating for nine months, the flight deck crew performed at the highest level and successfully completed all certification requirements expeditiously and in a professional manner," said Lt. Keith King, Bonhomme Richard's aircraft handler. "The entire Bonhomme Richard team provided invaluable support in achieving full aircraft facility certification."
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