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"Gear Dogs" Hook Up TR With New Milestone

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS051027-16
Release Date: 10/27/2005 2:14:00 PM

By Journalist 2nd Class Steve Murphy, USS Theodore Roosevelt Public Affairs

ABOARD USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (NNS) -- The arresting gear personnel “Gear Dogs” of USS Theodore Roosevelt’s (TR) (CVN 71) V-2 division helped TR achieve a new milestone with the recovery of its 160,000 aircraft over the ship’s 19-year history.

The recovery was completed at 7:23 p.m. Oct. 25, when Lt. Jay Haddock, flying an S-3B Viking, successfully tail hooked arresting gear wire number 4.

According to Arresting Gear Branch Officer, Lt. John Oliver, the night’s trap was an amazing accomplishment, but not nearly as impressive as the personnel who made it possible.

“While 160,000 recoveries is quite an accomplishment for a carrier, the 160,000th trap is no different than number 160,001,” said Oliver. “What is significant is that for 160,000 arrestments, the gear has been maintained, and will continue to be maintained by the ‘Gear Dogs’ in a safe and operable condition to bring our aviators back onboard TR."

The “Gear Dogs” consist of nearly 40 Sailors whose sole purpose is to make sure all aircraft landing on TR are safely recovered. V-2 is divided into two work centers; the topside crew and the below deck maintenance crew. Each one is critical to the other’s success, and both play a key role to ensure TR successfully completes all of its flight operation missions.

The topside crew is manned by eight to 10 personnel. They inspect the arresting gear systems, particularly the wires to make sure they are operable and safe to use.

“We play a very vital role,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Equipment 3rd Class Felix Torres. “Pilots have told me that one of their biggest concerns is being able to stop safely, and we are the ones who make sure that happens.”

The below deck personnel serve as the backbone of the “Gear Dogs." They are responsible for the upkeep of the ship’s five arresting gear systems. It’s not uncommon to find them any time, day or night, performing maintenance checks or repairs if needed, ensuring the above deck personnel have the equipment to use for flight deck recoveries at all times.

“Nobody every really sees or hears about us,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Equipment 1st Class (AW) Dorian Fair. “Everyone seems to only see the crew on the flight deck … it’s as if we work undercover.”

“Every night and day, we are doing the maintenance to keep the equipment working,” said Fair. “Without us, there isn’t any recovery of aircraft.”

There are five arresting gear systems aboard TR. Four use the arresting wire to stop aircraft, and the fifth is an emergency barricade system that uses a net to stop aircraft incapable of using a tail hook to catch the arresting wire. Each wire is 2,200 feet in length, of which 110 feet is visible across the flight deck.

Each wire is capable of stopping an aircraft weighing up to 60,000 pounds. The crews who make up the “Gear Dogs” work an average of 19 hours per day to accomplish their mission. Their responsibilities require them to be flexible, disciplined and open minded.

“It’s all about how you manage your time,” said Airman Joseph Brown. “To work here, you have to know how to get the most of your down time so you can get some sleep or grab a meal. It isn’t as bad a people might think.”

As TR continues to support Operation Iraqi Freedom and Maritime Security Operations in the Persian Gulf, the Gear Dogs will play a vital part. As with every role aboard the ship, the overall mission couldn’t be achieved without them.

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