Face of Defense
Face of Defense: Navy
‘Shooters’ Launch Carrier Jets
By Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class
Chris Cavagnaro, USS George Washington.
Pacific Ocean – (DoD
News) – September 22, 2014 – Navy Lt. Kacee Jossis, a “shooter” aboard the
Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington, verifies all the pre-flight
checks have been completed and everyone on the flight deck is in position to
commence flight operations.
Demonstrating the position to launch an
Jossis then looks up at an F/A-18F Super Hornet jet assigned
to the “Diamondbacks” of Strike Fighter Squadron 102 and gives the signal to
These seemingly routine operations require the teamwork of
many highly trained personnel, including a small group of 11 yellow-shirted
catapult officers known as “shooters” who are responsible for the safe and
efficient launch of the ship’s aircraft.
“The catapult officer is responsible to ensure the catapult
is prepared and ready to launch aircraft, the aircraft is properly configured to
launch, all personnel are in their proper position and any observers are behind
the foul lines,” said Lt. Cmdr. Robert Neff, a shooter aboard George Washington.
“We inspect the entire catapult system, the jet-blast
deflector, and input our calculations for wind to determine how much steam is
needed to launch aircraft,” Neff said.
In order to become a shooter, a catapult officer must hold
numerous qualifications and have successfully completed rigorous on-the-job
The qualifications can take anywhere from three to six months
to achieve, but upon completion, being a shooter is one of the best jobs a
sailor can have on an aircraft carrier, said Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Kreutz, George
Washington’s lead catapult officer,.
“For us, it’s all about being around flight operations and
continuing to do so,” Kreutz said. “All of us come from different backgrounds as
naval aviators and being a shooter is a completely different job than we’re used
to, so it’s nice to see a different side of the aviation world and control
Part of air department
In addition to these duties, shooters command the five
divisions that make up George Washington’s air department.
“Air department is the biggest department on the ship, with
nearly 750 sailors,” Neff said. “When we’re not out there on the flight deck
shooting aircraft, we’re running our divisions and leading our sailors.”
To mark the end of her tour on the George Washington, Jossis
upheld a catapult officer tradition by tying her flight deck boots around a
catapult and launching them into the ocean.
“For my last shot on the flight deck, I was able to shoot my
boots to signify my completed tour as a shooter,” Jossis said. “It was a nice
way to send me off and onto my next command.”
Reflects on catapult officer duty
Jossis reflected upon the two years she spent as a shooter
aboard the ship.
“It’s been a good experience,” Jossis said. “If you’re going
to come to a carrier as a pilot and not fly, shooting is the best job you can
have. I really enjoyed working with everyone in air department. It’s bittersweet
to leave, but I’m ready to fly again.”
George Washington is currently participating in Valiant
Shield, which is a joint exercise integrating U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army and
Marine Corps assets, offering real-world joint operational experience to develop
capabilities that provide a full range of options to defend U.S. interests and
those of its allies and partners.
USS George Washington