By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Matthew Riggs
WATERS WEST OF THE KOREAN PENINSULA – The emergency reclamation team (ERT) aboard the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) conducted a drill in the ship’s hangar bay to test team proficiency, July 22.
ERT is responsible for the preservation of equipment in the event of an aircraft mishap by removing and repairing salvageable parts.
“We try to save as much as we can as quickly as possible,” said Aviation Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Anne Esguerra, an ERT member from Vallejo, Calif. “The faster we can get these parts repaired, the faster we can get that aircraft functioning properly.”
ERT is composed of more than 60 Sailors from the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD) from both ship’s company and George Washington’s embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5.
“We have many different divisions, and each one specializes in a particular area of an aircraft,” said Aviation Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class James Flores, from San Diego. “Each shop knows if a particular part is valuable, and will be able to judge if something can be salvaged.”
According to Flores, emergency reclamation is a simple but lengthly process. Aircrew are to first identify what parts are vital and which ones can be salvaged. The ship’s crew will then receive, identify, and catalogue each piece of equipment and perform initial repair actions.
ERT will next pass the damaged equipment on to the department most suited for deeper level repair. If successful, the parts are reintegrated into the aircraft or system.
“The most critical part of the process is the initial action before we pass it on,” said Aviation Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Michael Mendoza, the ERT program manager, from San Diego. “Sometimes it’s as basic as wiping a part down, or rinsing it out with fresh water. However, some of our equipment is sensitive and certain things, like saltwater, are highly corrosive. It’s important to remove corrosives as quick as we can to lessen the damage it can do.”
ERT is ready to respond to a variety of different situations, such as AFFF discharge onto an aircraft, fire and aircraft crashes.
“We also respond to other mishaps,” said Esguerra. “If something happens to a space with important equipment like a magazine, we’ll be there.”
The team can be ready to respond to a crisis in less than 15 minutes and will be on station for several hours to ensure saving as much equipment as possible.
“ERT plays a vital role for our ship,” said Mendoza. “Without an ERT, there would be no one to rapidly respond to save recoverables.”