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GW's Flight Deck Ready to Launch and Recover Aircraft

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS051201-09
Release Date: 12/1/2005 4:39:00 PM

By Journalist 3rd Class (SW) Kary Favell, USS George Washington Public Affairs

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- During the last week of November, USS George Washington’s (CVN 73) flight deck became fully mission capable once again after the ship’s launch and recovery equipment was overhauled and revamped during a docked planned incremental availability that began in January.

Lt. Al Chuderski, maintenance officer for GW’s Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) division, said that GW has packed more productivity into less time than any other carrier in availability status.

“This availability is unprecedented,” he said. “These upgrades are usually saved for refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) periods when a ship is in port for a couple years. We’re setting the standard for all other carriers to come and changing the way the Navy conceptualizes what can be accomplished in short time frames.”

The $24 million flight deck upkeep package included more than 100,000 man-hours and almost 1,500 jobs completed. The result: “If we had a pilot who was crazy enough, they could land an aircraft on our ship right now,” Chuderski said. “They’d just have to look out for the parking garage.”

Each of GW’s four catapults were retooled and revamped, as were the components of all arresting equipment. All arresting wires were replaced with stronger, lower-maintenance cables.

“These cables require less man-hours to maintain them, which means less money spent,” Chuderski said. “It also means improvement in our crew’s quality of life.”

The new integrated “head-up display” on the landing signal officer’s (LSO) platform is ready to give LSOs greater visibility and more accurate, real-time data. This is just one more way GW is keeping ahead of the curve for safer, smarter flight operations, Chuderski said.

GW has also undergone changes for the integration of the new F/A-18E/F Super Hornet into the carrier air wing. The flight deck’s jet blast deflectors now have upgraded cooling systems to prevent warping from the Super Hornet’s more intense jet blast.

GW’s new lighting system and cameras now allow for higher-tech night vision capabilities. This gives everyone, including pilots, a better look at the finer points of flight operations. With and without daylight, flight deck footage is clearer and more conducive to accurate performance assessments.

Chuderski said lots of hard work went into the successful completion of GW’s four-and-a-half-acre asset.

“This crew is motivated. They wanted this equipment to work, and work well,” Chuderski said. “They did what needed to be done to make that happen. We couldn’t be happier with the way this availability has gone.”

A focus on attention to detail during the availability period will allow aircraft to launch and land from GW’s flight deck safely as GW continues to keep Sailors’ wellbeing the top priority.

“We launch and recover people, not just aircraft,” Chuderski said. “When you hit that fire button, it’s got to be right 100 percent of the time. There are no second chances.”

GW as a whole has been undergoing a $400 million modernization at Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipyard and will return to the fleet by the end of the year.

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