By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian Sloan
WATERS NEAR GUAM – Every time Sailors hear the familiar grind of arresting gears dragging across the flight deck and feel their work centers shake, a team of aviation boatswain’s mates (equipment), or ABE’s, is at work.
Sailors in Air department’s V-2 division are essential for ensuring that flight operations are successful by maintaining and operating four arresting-gear wires and one emergency-landing barricade aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73).
“We do countless maintenance procedures on all of this equipment,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) 1st Class Jia Chen, V-2 leading petty officer. “Pilots and flight deck personnel rely on our equipment to work perfectly. There isn’t any room for error here.”
Each component is powered by its own hydraulic engine system that enables an aircraft at full-throttle speed to stop in less than 340 feet.
According to Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) 2nd Class Andre Jones, from Memphis, Tenn., proper operation and maintenance of V-2’s equipment requires approximately 40 Sailors to work around the clock. About 20 Sailors man the arresting gear during flight operations, while another team of 20 works during the night shift performing the maintenance that ensures arresting gears and emergency barricade are in fighting shape.
“The equipment is important, but what makes or breaks the safety of its operation is the Sailors in V-2,” said Jones. “We take a lot of pride in our work, and the importance of our job keeps everyone going.”
Jones added that arresting gear personnel do a lot of training. Senior personnel in the shop prioritize teaching new Sailors and getting them qualified. Every Sailor must complete an extensive personnel qualification standard to perform any task that involves the arresting gear system.
There is always a team of arresting-gear aviation boatswain’s mates present during every aircraft recovery. Whether it is to raise the emergency barricade for a drill, observe arrested landings on the flight deck and below or performing maintenance at night, V-2 Sailors help ensure all pilots and aircraft return to the ship safely.