USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- As USS Enterprise (CVN 65) conducts sea trials, the aircraft carrier's crew is shifting focus to an operational mindset and the mission ahead, preparing for the arrival of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1.
While switching gears from an industrial environment and re-assessing hazards throughout the ship, an important focus for Enterprise Sailors who will support the air wing's return is foreign object debris (FOD).
FOD is any loose object which can be moved through the air during flight operations. Even small pebbles the size of peas can cause great damage.
"FOD is the responsibility of all hands," said Cmdr. Mark Nieto, Enterprise's Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Department officer. "FOD can be one of the most dangerous things on the flight deck or in the hangar bay."
A piece of FOD ingested into an engine can cause engine failure and possibly the loss of the aircraft or the aircrew. Additionally, propellers, rotors and engines can blow the FOD through the air, something which can injure Sailors.
"At a previous command, we found FOD inside the airplanes," said Nieto. "FOD in a cockpit during a launch or recovery could have disastrous results."
The engine of an F/A-18C Hornet costs around $1.5 million to replace if damaged by FOD. The F/A-18F Super Hornet engine costs $3.5 million to replace.
"It could take a week or more to get a new engine aboard depending on where we are and what engine it is," said Nieto.
Conducting FOD walks helps prevent these dangerous scenarios and is of the utmost importance for Enterprise and her crew. To ensure this life-saving task is completed effectively, there is a FOD Council aboard the aircraft carrier, comprised of the commanding officer, air wing commander and various department heads on the ship.
"At the end of each FOD walk down when the air wing is aboard, we take the FOD to our quality assurance office," said Nieto. "We make notes of what FOD was found and where."
Every month the information is presented to the commanding officer and the rest of the FOD council so appropriate action can be made.
"At a previous command, every vending machine aboard was secured because of the amount of soda cans found that month during walk downs," said Nieto. "If the aircraft are damaged, it could ultimately affect the mission."
To prevent aircraft damage and preserve the safety of the crew and aircraft, FOD walk downs are conducted every day in the hangar bay and on the flight deck prior to starting any aircraft engine.
"We don't ever want to lose an aircraft due to FOD," said Nieto. "More importantly, we don't ever want to lose a Sailor."
Enterprise competed sea trials April 19 following a maintenance period in the Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipyard.
For more news from USS Enterprise (CVN 65), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn65/.