Aviation is a major part of the Navy mission. There are aircraft carriers that carry all types of aircraft, helicopter carriers that can also handle other types of vertical takeoff aircraft, smaller combatants that have a helicopter onboard, and many ships with fantails that are capable of landing a helicopter. Any ship capable of launching and/or landing aircraft has a designated flight deck.
- Red deck. Indicates that the ship is not ready to receive the aircraft.
- Green deck. Indicates that the ship is ready to receive the aircraft.
- Foreign Object Damage (FOD). Results from any loose object on deck that may be pulled upward toward the aircraft by suction of the rotors or jet intake and may cause damage to the engine rotor blades, or an object that may cause damage or injury by being blown by prop or test wash.
- Landing Signal Enlisted (LSE). Aircraft director, stands within the pilots view and directs his movements. His uniform is a GREEN shirt and RED cranial.
- Landing Signal Officer (LSO). Monitors all approaches from a platform beside the fight deck and acts as safety officer.
- Helo In Flight Refueling (HIFR). Refueling of a helo while it is hovering overhead using a quick disconnect fitting which provides a manually operated emergency breakaway capability.
- On Deck Refueling (Hot/Cold). Hot refueling is when the aircraft engine is operating, and cold refueling is when the aircraft engine is shut down.
- Vertical Replenishment. Vertical replenishment employs cargo helicopters (CH-46) as a method of transferring materials to combatants from the underway replenishment group of supporting forces. It is a faster and more flexible replenishment system than the conventional alongside method of replenishment (CONREP). It allows combatant ships to refuel concurrently. Its speed is limited to the speed in which cargo can be struck down to ensure safe operations.
Flight Deck Safety
- Remove all unnecessary personnel. The vicinity of operations must be cleared of all exposed idle personnel. High velocity blade fragments and severe burns could result from a crash on deck, injuring any personnel who are not in a protected station.
- Minimizing hover time for helos. The helo should spend as little time over the deck as possible. When not actually performing hoist maneuvers, the helo will normally move abeam to windward.
- Wind direction and speed. The wind direction and speed should be known so that high-speed winds will not catch personnel off guard causing unexpected knock down. Wind direction should be known when working in the vicinity of stacks so that harmful gases are not inhaled.
- Policing a flight deck and surrounding area to eliminate FOD. Decks must be cleared, free of loose gear and free of any projection on which a hook, basket, litter, or line may foul. High velocity rotors will blow any loose gear about the decks, which may be eliminated by prior policing of the area.
- Lowering of obstructions (i.e. antenna). Any rig, boom, stays, whip antenna, halyards, or other obstruction must be removed or lowered out of the way of the helo while it is in the hover position.
- Personnel transfer/shock hazards (static). Able personnel may be transferred wearing life jackets and when properly briefed in procedure. If a stretcher patient is to be moved, a light free running line will be attached to one end of the litter to orient the litter as it is hoisted/lowered. Static electricity may be induced into ungrounded wires and other rigging.
- Fueling/fuel spills. All existing fire precautions must be adhered to during the fueling/defueling process. Smoking is not permitted in the aircraft or within 50 feet of the aircraft during fueling/defueling procedures. Crews consist of a minimum of four people. One person stands by with the firefighting equipment, another stays with the truck, the third handles the fuel hose on the ground, and the fourth handles the fueling hose at the aircraft and fills the tanks. In case of an accidental spillage of aircraft fuels or other combustible liquids they must be removed immediately by washing with water, covering with a foam blanket, or neutralized by other means to prevent igniting.
- Loading weapons. The greatest hazard with ammunition is not so much from instability or deterioration of the explosives, but the enormous destruction of a detonation of one round followed by instantaneous detonation of all nearby rounds. Weapons must be handled with extreme care and never subjected to rough treatment in any handling operation. Matches or other flame or spark-producing articles should not be carried near places where ammunition is stored or handled.
- Radio communications. The flight deck radio circuit built into the cranial safety helmets with ear cup ear protectors (called Mickey Mouse ears) comes in two configurations, receiver (receive only) and transceiver (transmit and receive). The circuit is controlled by flight deck control (Air Boss) and is used to pass immediate deck operation commands. Key deck personnel (LSO, Cat Officer, and Arresting Gear Officer) are equipped with transceivers to enable them to notify the Air Boss of major flight deck hazards.