Crew Members Working Below Decks Ensure Safe Landings

Story Number: NNS090901-04Release Date: 9/1/2009 12:06:00 PM
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By Mass Commication Specialist 2nd Class Coleman Thompson, USS Harry S. Truman Public Affairs

USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- The aircraft landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) hit the deck at incredible speeds. Stopping these jets from continuing over the forward end of the boat comes down to a hook, a cable, and the crew in charge of the Truman's arresting gear.

Through the recent underway starting Aug. 4, Truman has assisted pilots from several squadrons in receiving their carrier qualifications, or CQs. For the crew members operating the arresting gear, this means long, arduous hours and hard work.

"When we have CQs, we pretty much stay manned up all day," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate Airman Timothy Johnson. "It's like an 18-hour day, so we have to work hard and make it work."

The extended hours needed for pilots to qualifications give the crew members little time to relax, but has ultimately paid off. During just one day, Truman logged a total of 182 landings, a new record for the ship.

"We really don't get that many breaks during CQs," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) 3rd Class Nicholas Ward. "With the planes constantly coming in, it gets pretty repetitive, but when you think about all that goes into this equipment, it's actually pretty cool."

When the aircraft's hook catches the wire on the flight deck above, the machinery down below controls the wire until the aircraft come to a complete stop.
Careful maintenance is required to keep the several components of the arresting gear operational, and communication is key, as each aircraft requires a different amount of resistance and drag from the cable. The crew monitors and logs the amount of wire that is pulled out and perform maintenance on the equipment when given a break in between landings.

"You've got to stay awake; got to stay alert," said Johnson. "You need to pay attention and stay on point."

For Sailors who typically operate on the flight deck, the environment below decks offers a welcome change.

"Sometimes it's nice working below decks," said Johnson. "I've been out on the flight deck when it's raining. It can get hot down here sometimes, but I'd rather be hot than wet."

Without the Sailors manning the arresting gear equipment, most major flight operations on board Truman would be impossible.

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