Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan Litzenberger
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Dec. 7, 2017) – An aircraft carrier’s mission symbolizes what the modern Navy is all about: the projection of power from the sea. In order to accomplish this, aircraft carriers are needed to launch and recover aircraft, and a certain department aboard these carriers is vital in the support of this mission. USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD) Sailors are doing their part to continue the sequence of milestones for the ship.
As part of Ford’s mission to become fully qualified and operational, AIMD has successfully built an MH-60S tire.
“The tires on fixed-wing aircraft will only last around 10 to 15 launches and recoveries, so it’s necessary for us to rebuild the tires,” said Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic Frank Brooks. “We break them down for easier stowage and then rebuild them when needed, so us being able to do this is needed for when we carry more aircraft and conduct longer flight operations.”
“This is the first time AIMD has acquired the resources and equipment to successfully build an aircraft tire,” said Ensign Matt Shaw, AIMD’s IM-2 divisional officer. “This is a significant milestone because now Ford’s AIMD can better support the air wings that we will take on board.”
The Sailors supporting these air wings put in a lot of time and effort in order to accomplish this milestone.
“We’ve spent a few weeks at different schools to get our qualifications to do this kind of work,” said Aviation Structural Mechanic 2nd Class William Sekel. “We learned a lot on building F/A-18 tires and different other aircraft. Getting this ship ready for this level of support has really taken a lot of effort from our Sailors.”
A lot of effort leading to a milestone for not only the ship, but for some of the Sailors as well.
“This is exciting for me,” said Aviation Structural Mechanic Airman Genesis Fernandez. “I’ve been learning a lot leading up to this point. It’s my first time ever doing this too, so it’s special.”
This milestone serves as a step forward for Ford as the ship conducts test and evaluation operations at sea during Independent Steaming Exercises.
“While air wings are embarked with us, we serve them,” said Shaw. “Any maintenance that is required for an aircraft that the squadrons can’t do due to resources or whatever it may be, we support. Our technicians are qualified to work on aircraft at an intermediate and more in-depth level than what the squadrons are capable of underway.”