NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) is in its refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) maintenance period and air department's V-2 division has shifted their focus from launching aircraft to maintenance so the crew that relieves them is given a proper pass down to take the ship back out to sea.
The division has been tasked with ensuring the catapult and arresting gear systems aboard the ship are properly overhauled and operational by the time George Washington leaves Newport News Shipyard.
"Right now, most of our equipment are being overhauled so a lot of our maintenance is in IEM [inactive equipment maintenance]," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) 1st Class Timothy Tolar. "That means we don't have much in terms of maintenance right now so we upkeep our spaces for the time being."
V-2 is maintaining the cleanliness of their spaces and their damage control equipment while the shipyard workers strip their spaces of their equipment.
"It's important because cleanliness can affect our ship's readiness," said Tolar. "A lot of the decks in our spaces are bare metal. Sitting water can corrode that metal and compromise the integrity of the material condition of the ship and becomes a safety concern."
The biggest challenges Tolar faces is to make sure his Sailors are safe because safety is the biggest concern while in the yards.
"There's a lot of hanging metals, lots of people cutting pipes, holes in the deck and sparks flying," said Tolar. "I have to make sure everyone is wearing the proper protective equipment for the job and are aware of any hazards in their working area."
Another challenge Tolar faces is keeping his Sailors motivated throughout the day.
"My guys clean for a good part of the day," said Tolar. "It's not fun but it has to be done because we have a lot of spaces and those spaces need to be kept clean so the contractors can go in and do their job efficiently without being hampered by dirty equipment or spaces."
In about a month's time, most of V-2's equipment should be off the ship. Once they are gone, V-2 will be focusing on preparing the spaces for their return.
"When they're all gone, we will be needle gunning, painting and priming decks," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) 3rd Class Deontay Gates. "We handle a lot of our in-house work and that's the biggest thing we have coming up."
Despite a change in focus in their job, V-2 is determined to keep their Sailors trained and ready in the event another ship requires more manpower.
"It's difficult keeping the crew busy because we do much less work compared to when we are out at sea," said Gates. "We send some to schools that relate to the job for refresher training, send some to firefighting training, and other things like that."
According to Gates, although they do less work, the amount of stress doesn't change.
"The workload is easier but it doesn't get any less stressful," said Gates. "When we're out at sea we usually know what's coming up and what to expect but it's completely different in the yards because we don't know what's going to happen. One day, a space could be the same it's been for the past few weeks, then the next, it'll be completely different. Shipyard workers could have gone in and changed everything. They could have taken this, taken that and we have to account for everything. What was taken, who took it, where did they take it, and so on. Even over the weekends, we may not come in to work but that doesn't mean the work stops for them so we have to ask the shipyard workers what they did."
While V-2 may not like cleaning as much as they do now, Gates knows the work they put in today is important.
"We have maintenance and equipment trackers," said Gates. "This is the information they'll need when they get ready to take the ship back out to sea. Maybe there's a piece of equipment that isn't accounted for but if we look at our logs, we can see where it was shipped to and locate it."
Despite having lower workload, V-2 division knows how important their work is. Though many of the Sailors will not be here when George Washington returns to sea, the work they do now sets the foundation for the ship's future crew.
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