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    All’s Well that Ends Weld: What it’s Like to be a Hull Technician in the Shipyards

    Hull Technician welding

    Photo By Petty Officer 3rd Class Carter Denton | 190508-N-EX228-1018 NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (May 8, 2019) Hull Technician Fireman Erik...... read more read more



    Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Carter Denton 


    NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – (May 16, 2019) – One of the most critical functions of an aircraft carrier is its ability to transport, launch, and recover aircraft virtually anywhere in the world in support of the mission of the United States. The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) is undergoing refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) at Newport News Shipyard and although it is unable to perform this function, the ship’s crew is still contributing to naval aviation by helping return George Washington to the fleet.
    Hull Technician (HT) is one of the many rates aboard George Washington contributing to the readiness of the naval aviation community.
    “We’re keeping a carrier alive,” said Chief Hull Technician Zachary Whisenant from Huntsville, Alabama. “We’re revamping the ship just like you would restore an old car. We’re putting a fresh set of power plants in it, touching up the brightwork, making sure all the wires are where they’re supposed to be, and all the lines run where they’re supposed to go.”
    HTs perform many important functions aboard the ship during the RCOH process.
    “With this type of shipyard period, we’re picking up more work than we normally did in previous yard periods,” said Whisenant. “We’re working on drainage pipes, chill water pipes, potable water, and rehabilitation work on crew heads. Just whatever needs to be fixed.”
    Working on such extensive systems can come with many challenges, but one challenge stands out while working on a civilian installation.
    “The biggest challenge has just been the logistics of getting needed materials on and off the shipyard,” said Whisenant.
    Despite the challenges, the HTs on board accomplish their tasks. Without the efforts of HTs aboard George Washington, the RCOH process would be severely impeded.
    “The ship would start falling apart because there’s not a portion of this ship that we don’t touch,” said Whisenant. “You have to understand that we work on everything, including wood, fiberglass, steel, and aluminum.”
    HTs serve as a helping hand for the ship systems of many departments on board.
    “We may not own the system or the piece of equipment, but there’s very few that we don’t work on because we help with everyone’s stuff,” said Whisenant. “Our job is to be the ‘Mr. Fix-it’ of the Navy.”
    The challenges of the RCOH process bring new opportunities for training within the HT rate.
    “I love teaching the junior Sailors and showing them how to do what I know how to do because I’m not going be here forever to pass that on,” said Whisenant. “If you just show up on time in the right uniform and ask questions if you don’t understand, then we’re here to help take care of the rest.”
    Like all Sailors aboard George Washington, HTs rely heavily on teamwork to accomplish their goals.
    “My favorite part of my job would have to be the team I work with and the opportunity to learn something new every day with them,” said Hull Technician 2nd Class Raul Gutierrez from San Antonio. “It’s really the team that makes it worth it.”
    Each day that HTs come to work, George Washington is one day closer to redelivery to the fleet and meeting the needs of naval aviation. Without the efforts of Sailors in the ship’s crew, the ship would not be able to continue its service to its country.



    Date Taken: 05.16.2019
    Date Posted: 06.17.2019 12:51
    Story ID: 324149
    Location: NEWPORT NEWS, VA, US 

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