USS KEARSARGE, at Sea -- With the help of sailors assigned to the USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 266 (Reinforced), 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted maintenance on MV-22B Ospreys on the flight deck of the Kearsarge’s flight deck, at sea, May 4, 2013. Due to the nature of being out at sea, it can be difficult to receive new equipment and parts to repair aircraft because of the length of time it takes to have them delivered. To combat this, the squadron decided to cannibalize parts from one aircraft and move them to others reducing the amount of aircraft that are out of service from all four being down to one being down and three operational. “We had four total airplanes that we needed to swap hubs on,” said Sgt. Daniel Howington, a Memphis, Tenn., native and an MV-22B crew chief and quality assurance representative assigned to the Aviation Combat Element. “We ended up moving a total of eight different rotor heads, two swash plates that were high time and replacing a damaged drive tube.” He said high time is a term used to describe a component that reaches a certain amount of flight time hours and needs to be replaced with a brand new one to ensure safety. In order to do the heavy lifting the Marines called in the help of the crash fire rescue sailors to utilize their expertise with their Tilly crane. More commonly used for salvage and rescue, the sailors adapted to the situation, using the crane in order to support the mission.
“Tilley is used for casting crashed aircraft overboard, that is all it is really designed for, but nonetheless it is still a crane,” said Gunnery Sgt. Zachary S. Carpenter, a Fallbrook Calif., native, and maintenance control staff noncommissioned officer in charge. “With the Navy allowing us to use the crane to move these hubs, it is really allowing us to reduce the workload. The amount of work being done today, plus the fact we are on the flight deck of a ship, is essentially unheard of.” As all things in the military, planning is one of the most important steps in any operation. To prevent poor performance, proper prior planning was necessary to most efficiently complete the mission. “Maintenance control started planning this operation two days prior,” said Maj. Michael Hyde, a Philadelphia native and maintenance officer for VMM-266 (Rein.). “We had to make sure we were able to get the Navy to use the Tilly Crash Crane. We also had to work with operations to make sure we got a clear deck with no flying so we had the space to operate. It was about two days when it came to planning, but when it comes down to execution it was all about the lance corporals, corporals and sergeants making sure it is done efficiently and effectively.” At the end of the day, the success was contributed by the cohesion among the Marines and sailors working on the irrefutably impressive task.
“Working with the sailors aboard the Kearsarge has been great,” said Hyde. “Once we got the plan coordinated, the Navy’s personnel have been fantastic. This is the epitome of the true blue-green team.”