Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic (CNAL)
The “Red Rippers” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11 were presented the 2019 Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Aviation Safety Award by Rear Adm. John F. Meier, Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic in a ceremony at Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Aug. 19.
The prestigious award is presented annually to U.S. Navy aircraft squadrons who amass the best safety records for their respective type/model/series aircraft. This is VFA-11’s third consecutive Safety “S” Award.
The squadron recently returned home following an unprecedented and inaugural dynamic force employment (DFE) deployment with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 while embarked aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). While successfully supporting combat sorties in Operation Inherent Resolve and security operations with allies in the U.S. 6th Fleet, VFA-11 completed 440 sorties accumulating nearly 900 flight hours during the demanding deployment with an impeccable safety record.
“We are honored to receive a third consecutive Safety S,” said Cmdr. John McGee, commanding officer of VFA-11. “We don’t spend a lot of time talking about safety, but we put a great deal of emphasis on professionalism and accountability, and we hold our people to a high standard. Over time, that has developed into the culture that we have in the squadron today.”
Overall, the squadron has completed more than 3,700 flight hours, of which almost 800 were at night, in fiscal year 2019. They logged over 1,600 embarked flight hours, 459 of which were flown at night. During the entire deployment, they successfully accomplished over 2,500 carrier arrested landings, or "traps", of which 637 were night hours.
Additionally, the squadron provided support to our NATO allies in the Arctic Circle for the first time in more than 30 years during Exercise Trident Juncture.
VFA-11 has a record of 26 years, or 96,727 hour of Class A mishap-free flight hours. The last Class A mishap was in February, 1994.
“I was honored to award VFA-11 with their third Safety "S" Award today,” said Meier during the award presentation. “I’m proud of VFA-11 and their laser-focus on safety excellence.”
Following completion of the DFE deployment, Harry S. Truman returned to its homeport in Norfolk, Virginia, midway through its non-standard deployment period. After a two month delay, the “Red Rippers” resumed their 2019 deployment with CVW-1 following an accelerated training cycle and refocused their efforts on the their follow-on deployment.
“Receiving the Chief of Naval Operations Annual Aviation Safety Award three years in a row is a true testament to the culture of safety the VFA-11 Red Rippers embrace,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kris Weible, the safety officer from VFA-11. “I couldn’t be any prouder or amazed at the level of professionalism, teamwork, and camaraderie that every member of the Ripper team brings to the fight every day.”
VFA-11 has 250 officer and enlisted personnel who fly and maintain 11 F/A-18F "Super Hornets," a two-seat strike fighter, carrier-based aircraft built by Boeing. It is manned by a pilot and a weapon systems operator.