NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- Since USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) arrived at Northrop Grumman Newport News in May 2001 for a mid-life Refueling Complex Overhaul (RCOH), Sailors from Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department's Calibration Lab have been working at a temporary support facility in Portsmouth, Va.
Those Sailors returned to Ike Aug. 1 and are now calibrating for their warship on their warship.
"Within five days (of the move), we were operational and producing gear," said Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class (AW) Jason Couch. "We never really dropped the ability to work (throughout the duration of the move)."
When Ike completes her RCOH, she will welcome aboard her air wing. It is the calibration lab's job to make sure all the ship's catapults are calibrated precisely before the air wing embarks.
Working on aviation equipment is not their only responsibility. They ensure everything aboard Ike is calibrated to meet the Navy's standards. This includes the ship's fire main system, reactor gauges, fuel systems, steam gauges and the catapults.
"Calibration, in a nutshell, is returning equipment back to standards," said Couch. "We calibrate from bow to stern, port to starboard."
There are three aspects of production in the calibration lab. The area of production, which sees the most workload, deals with physical dimensional gear, such as gauges. The calibration lab also deals with electronics and repairs. According to Couch, the electronic equipment the lab works on includes any device that gives off a signal.
"Five Sailors could calibrate anywhere from 100 to 150 items (physical dimensional) a day," Couch said. "The hardest part of our job is repair."
Repair is the most difficult aspect of the job, he said, because it takes years of experience to be able to adequately troubleshoot an item and decipher exactly what is wrong. Couch added 10 to 15 percent of the lab's workload deals with repairs.
According to Aviation Electronics Technician 3rd Class Mike Angelastro, a calibration technician, working back aboard Ike is a much more efficient way to conduct business.
To maintain production while the calibration lab was not aboard Ike, the technicians would transit from Portsmouth to Newport News, delivering and receiving parts (gauges, torque wrenches, etc.) twice a week.
"We would have to make 'cal. runs' every Tuesday and Thursday. Now [that we are on board], it allows us to get more done. We are not losing manpower making 'cal. runs,'" Angelastro said.
Despite the hassle of working off-site, according to Couch, the calibration lab completed more than 12,000 jobs since May of 2001.
"All the different departments met their milestones (i.e. testing catapults or producing steam), but they couldn't have met them without us," Couch said. "To bring steam on board, we calibrated about 3,800 gauges in two-and-a-half months. That's an immense feat."
For more information on USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), visit www02.clf.navy.mil/eisenhower.
For related news, visit the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn69.