ABOARD USS CARL VINSON, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Carl Vinson's (CVN 70) V-3 division reached an almost unheard-of milestone this month, when Airman Jose Almonte directed the crew's 5,000th aircraft move without a mishap.
"They didn't tell me until it was over," said Almonte, after he safely moved an F/A-18 Hornet. "I was happy and proud to be the one directing the move."
Air Department's hangar-deck crew performed the move as if it were business as usual, taking every precaution to ensure the safety of the airplane and the crew of the Gold Eagle.
"Everyone is always paying attention to safety," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate Airman Charles Brotherson, V-3 aircraft director. "We always take the time to do things safely and correctly."
With as many as 31 aircraft in the hangar bays at one time, doing things safely and correctly can be easier said than done. The "yellow shirts" directing the moves in the hangar bay and the entire V-3 crew, apply teamwork and coordination to everything they do.
"This was a total team effort. Every blue shirt, every yellow shirt - everyone's a safety (observer)," said Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (AW) Margaret Arriola, V-3 leading chief petty officer.
Hangar bay "blue shirts" are aircraft handlers who work under the guidance of the aircraft directors.
Since getting underway in January, the Gold Eagle has been flying sorties in the western Pacific almost non-stop, and V-3 division has made at least 5,000 moves in concert with these sorties.
"The planes don't go flying unless the people down here do their jobs right," said Lt. Cmdr. Brian Boutot, V-3 division officer. "It's that important."
In addition to the responsibility of moving aircraft safely, V-3 also maintains all three hangar bays, four aircraft elevators and is first on the scene to control hangar-bay emergencies.
"This is our work center, our home 13 hours a day, seven days a week," said Brotherson. "The way it's taken care of is a direct reflection on us."
Throughout Carl Vinson's deployment, V-3 has stayed motivated and focused. With 5,000 moves under their belt, the work doesn't stop -- it only gets harder.
"Zero mishaps is always our goal," said Arriola. "We want to have a perfect record. We want to go home safely."
All agree safety is paramount up and down the chain of command. It starts with the handling officer and filters down to the most junior blue shirt in the division.
"Anything can happen when things aren't done safely," said Almonte. "Safety is number one."
For related news, visit the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn70.