Scoop Deck blogger Lance M. Bacon just completed a 24-hour embark aboard the carrier Harry S Truman. This is the play-by-play.
HT2 Anthony Picillo and his team stands in front of the 10-foot hydraulic line that shut down Cat 3 — but for only two hours, thanks to the ship’s metal shop. (Photo by Lance M. Bacon)
Catapult 3 is down. Heat and vibration cracked a hydraulic line that wraps around steam lines. The failure is not even visible to the naked eye, but is quick to announce its presence when the line ramps up to 3,000 psi.
The squadrons are short on time. Every pilot has to conduct the required traps and touch-and-gos prior to sunrise, when training will take a significant shift. Pri Fly needs every catapult up and running.
They turn to the sailors in the ship’s metal shop.
This crew looks like the snipes of old. Covered in sweat and grease, they maneuver through a myriad of machinery to complete a number of simultaneous tasks. In the back is the “go-to guy,” HT2 Anthony Picillo. A welder who has spent nearly half of his six years aboard Truman, he carefully studies the twists and turns of the faulty hydraulic line. He must make an accurate replica that will snake through steam lines he can’t see, and do so with haste.
He assembles a team and begins to fabricate the replacement. In less than two hours, the team has bent, twisted and welded the line into shape, and Cat 3 is up and running.
Picillo smiles at the finished product. Gunner Amador, who runs the shop, is a bit more vocal.
These sailors are counted on to do some incredible things. And they deliver every time. People can walk past that hatch and never know we’re in here, or how important the things that happen in here are. But we know. And there is no other place I’d rather be.”
And judging by the stacks of Monster energy drink that litter the room, these sailors are geared up for whatever may come their way.