USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Several levels above the flight deck, Sailors can get a bird's eye view of a massive airport at sea.
From atop "Vulture's Row," Sailors unfamiliar with flight operations on board USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) are able to safely observe and appreciate the men and women that work long, strenuous and dangerous hours.
Amidst the constantly moving aircraft, multi-colored jerseys and various flight-deck equipment, two white trucks are manned by personnel wearing "space suits," who appear to be watching and waiting.
While this may be the first impression some get, the Crash and Salvage team on board HST is a critical part of the "daily grind" taking place topside.
"We are the ship's flight-deck repair locker," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate Handling 2nd Class (AW) Robert Self, Assistant Leading Petty Officer of the Crash and Salvage Team. "We handle all aircraft emergencies on the flight deck, everything from fuel spills and hydraulic failures, to aircraft crashes."
As shipboard firefighters, the 27 enlisted 'red shirts' that run and maintain Crash and Salvage are a dedicated team of Sailors who realize the importance and seriousness of their job.
"We are the epitome of flight deck fire fighting and safety on the east coast, " said Aviation Boatswain's Mate Handling 1st Class (AW/SW) Francisco Jusino, Leading Petty Officer.
Among the recognition his crew has received in years past are runner-ups in the Allen G. Ogden Award, which recognizes outstanding Crash and Salvage teams Navy-wide. Jusino also won the James D. Maloney Award for Firefighter of the Year last year, an honor he attributes to the intense training and progress of his crew.
"My goal is to develop my crash crew so they will be ready for this next deployment," he said. "As these Sailors grow and mature and learn more about firefighting, I find that they commit more to the military."
The capabilities of the Crash and Salvage team during emergency situations are enhanced by having the latest firefighting equipment in the fleet. Tools such as electric Jaws of Life and a K12 power rescue saw will let the team cut through aircraft if escape hatches are unreachable.
The two white P-25 mobile firefighting units required on the flight deck during flight operations can shoot 750 gallons of firefighting agent. The "spacesuits" that the Sailors maneuvering these trucks wear are firefighting suits that reflect light and heat, allowing them to get as close to the fire as possible.
Apart from constant timed drills that test Crash and Salvage's ability to respond to a casualty quickly and efficiently, they maintain all firefighting equipment surrounding the flight deck.
In addition to this, everyone in Crash and Salvage must be familiar with the various components of each type of aircraft that lands on board in order to be able to shut off an aircraft in a casualty.
For more news on USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), go to the HST NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn75.