USS KITTY HAWK, At Sea (NNS) -- Whenever USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) changes speed, a group of Sailors known as throttlemen are hard at work down in the ship's main machinery rooms to make sure the correct adjustments are made at exactly the right time.
"The throttlemen control the speed of the ship as ordered by the [officer of the deck] and the [engineering officer of the watch] by listening to the bells which are sounded to order speed changes," said Machinist's Mate 1st Class (SW) Parvin Callis, leading petty officer of No. 3 main machinery room ."They also monitor the pressure and temperature gauges which support the main engine."
According to Callis, one throttleman is always on duty in each of Kitty Hawk's four machinery rooms while the ship is under way. Their role becomes especially important when the ship and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 are conducting flight operations.
"If the throttlemen don't answer the bells, which order them to change the ship's speed, we couldn't launch and recover aircraft," said Callis.
To become a throttleman, a Sailor must start at the very beginning of the watch standing chain of command in the machinery rooms, said Callis. The first watch station Sailors must become qualified as a messenger, followed by condensate watch, generator watch and then throttleman.
"You have to move up through the different watches to see how each subsystem works," Callis said.
Once a Sailor becomes qualified to stand the throttleman watch, he or she must know all of the basics of how the machinery room operates, Callis explained.
"In every machinery room, the machinist's mate of the watch (MMOW) is in charge of the engine room, and the boiler technician of the watch (BTOW) runs the boiler," he said. "The throttleman must work with both of them to maintain the speed of the ship."
According to Callis, learning how to operate the different components of the engine room is a challenge.
"You have to know how the engineering plant runs," he said. "If you don't know what you're doing, you could cause a casualty."
According to Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Bobby Bush, one of Kitty Hawk's qualified throttlemen, achieving this designation is a goal of most junior personnel who work in the machinery spaces.
"When you first start out, it's your goal to eventually become a throttleman," said Bush. "Once you become a throttleman, it's your goal to eventually become an MMOW. I hope to make MMOW during this underway period."
For related news, visit the USS Kitty Hawk Strike Group Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cv63/.