PHILLIPPINE SEA – During the course of human evolution on planet earth, inventions and innovations have helped shape the development of human destiny. Men and women learned how to craft and use tools, and the first major changes occurred in human history with the discovery of fire and the construction of the wheel. Humanity continued on, mastering metallurgy, electricity, and building a combustion engine for the first automobile. But no invention or innovation would carve out the landscape of the modern age like the integrated circuit and the creation of the silicon microchip.
Since then, electronic technology has increased at an exponential rate. The Navy needed a rating and personnel to understand technological advances and prepare for the future of the modern world. And so the electronics technician (ET) rating was born in 1948.
“Electronics starts with basic circuitry and electricity, and how it flows,” said Electronics Technician Seaman Eric Hochheisertostado, USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) combat systems electronics (CE) radar repair Sailor. “This rate is very troubleshooting oriented, if one tiny piece of a system fails, the entire system can fail. It’s our job to make sure that doesn’t happen. But if it does, we work tirelessly to fix problems when they occur.”
Hochheisertostado said one of the hardest aspects of becoming an ET was Apprentice Technical Training (ATT), which is the first Navy school after recruit training command for electronic intensive rates.
ATT is a three-month intensive training course on basic electronic theory, in which each Sailor is given a hands-on training console to learn about resistors, transistors, and conductors.
Hochheisertostado said ETs are then specialized in different aspects of the rating and continue their schooling for more than 12 to 18 additional months.
ETs specialize in virtually every communication, radar, and navigation system on the ship, and are required to maintain those systems at the circuit card assembly level.
“We do circuit level troubleshooting and repair,” said Electronic Technician 2nd Class Jennifer Gwaltney, Bonhomme Richard CE micro-miniature workshop Sailor. “Each circuit assembly card serves a specific function for each system on the ship, like one card for amplification, one card for processing signals or altering them, and so forth. All of these different cards together make the system perform to its desired function, like a
radar, or a communication system.”
Gwaltney said that ETs are able to read schematics and decipher errors or broken parts at the circuit level in order to fix them.
“We need to be able to work on every system,” said Electronics Technician 1st Class Jared Bradshaw, Bonhomme Richard’s combat systems electronics leading petty officer. “The running joke is that ET stands for “everything technician”. You have to be versatile to stay in electronics. Often behind the scenes, the work ETs do is paramount to the day-to-day operation of the ship, and the missions that the ship conducts.”
For these reasons, ETs are a critical rating in the Navy. As technology becomes more in depth and detailed, there will always be an ET keeping pace. To stay on the cutting edge of what is new and exciting, that is the job of an electronics technician.
The Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group reports to Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley and is currently conducting joint force operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.