NORFOLK — The aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower returned to Norfolk on Monday after five days of sea trials off the Virginia, ready to start prepping for an overseas deployment.

In a prepared statement issued Tuesday, Capt. Kyle Higgins, Ike’s skipper, called the sea trials “successful well beyond expectations."

He said that now the carrier can begin “the real work” — certifying the flight deck for launching and recovering aircraft.

Commissioned in 1977, Ike had been underway since March 28, its first outing after nearly 19 months undergoing maintenance and upgrades in a shipyard here.

The crew put the carrier through high-speed turns, launched small boats, tested the catapults and operated the countermeasures wash-down systems on the flight deck and the fire suppression equipment inside the hangar bay, too.

They also conducted damage control, seamanship and flight deck operations training, officials said.

"These five days made our bridge teams much more proficient and allowed us to carefully evaluate our strengths and weaknesses so we can continue to improve,” said the carrier’s assistant navigator, Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin Sanders, in the release.

Officials indicated that “maintenance-heavy” departments such as the engineering section toiled overtime to ensure the propulsion system and other critical components worked as planned.

Eisenhower and the rest of Carrier Strike Group 10′s crews now enter the basic phase of training to become the next Nimitz-class East Coast flattop to deploy overseas.

"We still have a long way to go, but with sea trials behind us, we are motivated to charge forward,” Higgins said. “We will continue to train and strive to be better, to be greater each day.”

The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group left Norfolk on April 1, part of a globetrotting tour that will sail through the 5th, 6th, 7th and 3rd Fleet areas of responsibility before arriving at the flattop’s new California homeport, Naval Air Station North Island.

Mark D. Faram is a former reporter for Navy Times. He was a senior writer covering personnel, cultural and historical issues. A nine-year active duty Navy veteran, Faram served from 1978 to 1987 as a Navy Diver and photographer.

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