USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT, At Sea (NNS) -- A thin sheen of steam from the catapults clouds the flight deck aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). Beneath the steam, the deck is filled with the choreographed movements of Sailors, aircraft and other vehicles.
Tension lines stretch across the deck and jet blast deflectors catch fiery exhaust as aircraft launch into the sky. An aircraft carrier flight deck is among the most dangerous places to work.
Sailors from crash and salvage division stand ready to save lives and prevent any further damage to an aircraft in the instance of a flight deck related emergency.
"We control all the commotion out on the flight deck; any emergency that happens, we are in charge," said Aviation Boatswain Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Dustin Noel. "From fires and crashes to hang wires and hydraulic failures, we manage any crisis and get flight ops back to normal as fast as possible, especially during blue water operations."
Blue water operations occur when the ship is far enough out to sea that it is the only viable place for a plane to land. Under these circumstances, it is crucial the flight deck remains clear.
"If there is an emergency on the landing area we have to clear it as fast as possible because there are other aircraft that need to come down and this is the only landing field for them. That's what Tilly (the large crane used to move or jettison large objects) is out there for. If we have an emergency out on the deck, we use Tilly to clear the landing area," said Noel.
Crash and salvage also maintains a myriad of emergency response systems, including 22 fire stations around the flight deck and catwalks, as well as the flight deck countermeasure wash down systems.
"People think we don't work because all they see of us is when we are up on the line during flight operations," said Aviation Boatswain Mate (Handling) Airman Iesha Cox. "We have a lot of other responsibilities when there are no flight operations taking place."
The last aircraft is taken down to the hangar bay, and the steam clears from the deck at the end of the day. The crash and salvage team puts away their gear, thankful they didn't have to use it. Tomorrow is a new day, and the team will be ready, expecting the best, but prepared for the worst.
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For more news from USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn71/.