PHILIPPINE SEA – Behind the closed doors of Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Department’s (AIMD) calibration lab, aboard amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), an award winning team of Aviation Electronic Technicians (AT) work day and night to maintain critical electronic equipment.
The team recently received an excellence award in calibration standards readiness from Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA).
So what is a typical day like for a shipboard AT? According to Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Zachary Holmes, from Chicago, Ill., the best way to define a calibrators’ job is to “compare an unknown to a known good.”
“We receive electronic gear that comes in from all over the ship, whether engineering, deck, navigation, medical and everything in between – if it takes quantitative measurements, it comes here,” explained Holmes. “We take the equipment and compare it to the established standard – a “known good”, and that way, we verify if the readings that we are getting are what they are supposed to be.”
In layman’s terms, ATs verify that the electronic equipment (for example, a tool that measures AC/DC voltage), used by other rates is functioning properly and is calibrated to the overall Navy standards. “We work on the stuff that works on the stuff,” said Holmes.
According to Holmes, the BHR calibration team has their hands full with three major customers on board. Alpha, represents AIMD. Secondly, there’s Echo which represents the ship’s Interior Systems Technicians who are responsible for the preventative maintenance of all electronics aboard BHR. Lastly, there’s Sierra which represents the remainder of the ship. The sum total of the Sierra customer grouping largely consists of the ship’s engineering department.
“On a good day we have six technicians working, whereas, there is close to 6,000 assets on board,” said Holmes. “It’s a 1,000 to 1 ratio.”
This workload, however, does not stop the team from performing at the highest standards.
“In the calibration world, we have a goal of 90 percent readiness,” said Holmes. “So when we received the message from NAVSEA, stating that we received the Excellence award in the Echo category for exceeding 95 percent readiness, it was an amazing feeling to know that people who do the work ultimately get recognized for it.”
Holmes explained that calibration data across the entire Navy is streamed to the NAVSEA server, which is regularly monitored by the data analysts. The analysts pull up the information from commands exceeding the set standard which results in a command wide recognition for the team’s accomplishments.
“Our job is not a one-man effort, everyone’s contribution is what led to our success and ship’s calibration readiness,” said Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class Benjamin Lord, from Greensburg, Ind. “I am immensely proud of each and every one of my people.”
The team is already setting goals to not only maintain the high standards achieved, but to excel in all aspects of equipment calibration and supersede other naval vessels by outstanding performance.
“Our goal now is to be number one in calibration readiness among all the ships,” added Lord. “Right now our main competition is USS America and USS Makin Island. I want to be able to say that we are the number one ship in the fleet, in the entire Navy.”