USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- Machinery Repairmen (MR) aboard aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) feel a certain prestige in their rating because its rich history translates into valuable experience.
The MR rating book says, "Perform organizational intermediate maintenance on assigned equipment and support other ships requiring the skillful use of our lathes, milling machines, boring mills, grinders, power hacksaws, drills, drill presses and other machining tools portable machinery and hand tools and measuring instruments found in the machine shop." But this definition does not do the job justice.
MR A-School is approximately 32 working days and covers everything from engraving machines to the basics of operating the lathes, drill-press and the mill.
"We're told from the start the lathes are going to be our best friend, so no matter how old or how noisy they are we have to get used to them, and you better get a feel for each one," said Machinery Repairman Fireman Anthony Broderick who recently arrived aboard Enterprise from A-School. "That is one of the first things we are told. You have to get a feel for each machine because each one works a little bit differently."
Enterprise holds a certain celebrity in MR circles because it is one of the oldest ships in the Navy.
"The moment they told me I was going they said it's the oldest one, it's the largest one and it's the only one that has a gap lathe," said Broderick. "My instructors were pretty stoked I was coming here."
A lot of the newer ships in the Navy have parts mass-produced in factories and then flown out to the ship when they are needed, which gives those MRs less time with the machines of their craft.
"Things break on Enterprise because it is an old ship, which means we get hands-on training that we can take with us to our next duty station," said Fireman Jermaine Stepney. "It's a big privilege to be on one of the world's oldest floating machine shops. We have one of the oldest pieces of machinery in the Navy. The gap lathe has been on board since 1950. It's the oldest, but our best, piece of machinery."
This knowledge and experience is something Enterprise MRs will take with them to their next commands; career building blocks created aboard a legendary carrier.
"Without a doubt, MRs coming out of the Enterprise are going to have an edge," said Machinery Repairman 2nd Class Michael Petronio, the Machine Shop's leading petty officer. "As far as a floating machine shop, we probably get some of the best experience in the fleet. We are the oldest floating machine shop in the Navy on one of the oldest ships in the Navy, so, as you can imagine, there is a lot that breaks down and plenty of experience to gain from putting it back together."
The equipment, however, is only as good as its users.
"I've got an excellent team," said Petronio. "I have the fortune of leading an older, more mature group. They know their duty and they do it well. They're very focused, very hard working and they pick up the different techniques and methodologies of machine work very easily. I think I'm the luckiest leader there could be."
There are many reasons to enjoy what you're doing and MRs each perform their craft with their own personal motivation.
"The most rewarding part of this rate is knowing I accomplished a job that kept the mission going," said Stepney. "If a shaft breaks somewhere or something happens in the plants, we can't complete our mission. Just knowing that we pulled it off and the mission kept going and everyone was safe; that's a job well done."
With Enterprise heading for deactivation in a few months, one might think there would be less concern with the longevity of replacement parts. But this is not the standard set by Enterprise MRs.
"Sure we only need the ship to continue on for a few more months, but if a part isn't machined up to proper specifications it could break in a matter of weeks," said Broderick. "These parts may also go on to another ship after the Enterprise is (inactivated)."
"It's not a matter of just making parts for us so we can last long enough to be here," said Broderick. "It's about holding up to a standard that helps out our shipmates who will be receiving these parts later on. It's a matter of pride that everything going out is of exceptional quality."
When a part deteriorates or breaks, MRs are the people who fabricate a new one. With a ship this old, this is a fact of life, and it takes the dedication of its Sailors to keep her in full operational condition. The fact Enterprise is still steaming along, conducting missions, is a testament to the skill and pride of Enterprise MRs.
"We have the greatest machine shop in the Navy right here," said Petronio.
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