Aviation Ordnanceman: Moving More Than Ordnance
Story by SN Cory Daut on 07/25/2019
While out to sea, aviation ordnancemen can commonly be found in the hangar bay or the flight deck moving and loading ammunition. During refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) however, a different task is presented to them. This task includes transporting Sailors from place to place, increasing their in-rate knowledge with training, and helping maintain the ship.
Aviation ordnancemen are staying true to commanding officer Capt. Glenn Jamison’s three priorities: production, training, and quality of life. The scope of their work is large, including completing numerous maintenance hours to help production goals, an abundant amount of training to make sure their Sailors are on track with their career progression, assisting other ships preparing for and even on deployment, and coordinating transportation throughout the Hampton Roads area for more than 2,500 George Washington Sailors.
“We conduct zone inspections, we are doing [ammunition] magazine rehabilitation, and we have a couple of [detachments] coming up,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Kayla Griffin, assigned to the G-3 division of weapons department.
This is just part of what they are doing on a day-to-day basis during RCOH. They also own many spaces aboard George Washington they have to do maintenance on, including the hangar bay elevators.
“There are 221 total spaces that are being refurbished by a minimum crew of weapons department,” said Senior Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Jeremy Zulz, the G-1 division leading chief petty officer of weapons department. “What weapons department is doing, [it] is doing more with less right now in RCOH, with half the manning weapons department would normally have, to get all of these spaces done on time.”
In addition, they have many training opportunites. Almost every week George Washington’s aviation ordnancemen attend Mobile Ordnance Training Team (MOTT) sessions, and these Sailors can also be found assisting other detachments at other trainings throughout Hampton Roads.
According to Senior Chief Aviation Ordnanceman James Cooksey, leading chief petty officer of the G-3 division of weapons department, these trainings help the mission of George Washington, because when it comes time for George Washington to go underway the trainings increase their knowledge in their rate. All of the training aviation ordnancemen, and indeed all George Washington Sailors, are completing while in RCOH is with an eye on future operations. Training and other opportunities help increase the knowledge and experience of the aviation ordnancemen community throughout the Navy, and helps support the Navy’s global mission in an era of increasing great power competition.
“We have supported three detachments over the last six months,” said Cooksey. “We have one more coming up in Fallon, Nevada at the world’s largest bombing range to support the [USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69)]. “We are going to support [their] pilots by training them to put bombs on targets, and hopefully stop the bad guys.”
In addition to many opportunities to assist other ships in the region, Sailors in the weapons department also support the unique transportation challenges that arise from the home and work situations of an RCOH aircraft carrier. Transportation for George Washington is vital to get Sailors where they need to be on time.
“We take exceptionial pride in [transporting] some of the finest Sailors in the fleet, Aviation Ordanceman 1st Class Floyd Williams, the transportation leading petty officer.
While in RCOH, George Washington Sailors work in many different locations outside the ship. Aviation ordnanceman and other Sailors in working for transportation transportation provide rides for Sailors between these workplaces and other important places of duty. No matter where a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier like George Washington finds itself in its lifecycle, whether at sea, in port, or in an RCOH period, aviation ordnancemen play a crucial role to the success of the command. George Washington’s aviation ordnancemen are maintaining their current skills and expanding their repitoire to ensure that when the ship heads back to see, she is ready to answer the call at a moment’s notice.
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