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    Flight Deck Safety: The Difference between Life and Death on the Flight Deck

    Nimitz conducts flight operations

    Photo By Petty Officer 3rd Class Charles DeParlier | 201209-N-JX182-1045 NORTH ARABIAN SEA (Dec. 9, 2020) An E/A-18G Growler, from the...... read more read more

    The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) is an almost 100,000-ton warship with one main mission; to project power ashore by launching and recovering aircraft. Every flight deck in the world is extremely dangerous and Nimitz is no exception. From spinning propellers to jet exhaust, every inch of the flight deck can be dangerous.

    The Sailors and Marines aboard Nimitz keep themselves safe by adhering to the strict rules and regulations associated with the flight deck.

    “The easiest part of being on the flight deck to get right is the uniform,” said Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Nathaniel Rowland, Safety Department leading petty officer aboard USS Nimitz. “You have your flight deck jersey, flight deck pants, which are long pants with no buttons, steel toed flight deck boots, whistle, float coat, cranial, goggles, double hearing protection and all leather gloves.”

    While the uniform is essential, there are still many other critical parts of flight deck safety. It’s always important to stress the basics of flight deck safety procedures, as these can be some of the most common safety violations.

    Looking out for propeller parts, especially moving ones, is one of the most immediate requirements, according to Rowland. Jet exhaust is also a common hazard, along with any moving aircraft, whether it is taking off, landing or being taxied.

    Jets are inherently dangerous, but a big part of flight deck safety starts before you even set foot on the deck. Getting enough sleep is essential for everyone on an aircraft carrier.

    “Sleep deprivation has been proven to affect your situational awareness as much as having a few drinks,” said Rowland.

    With the proper physical and mental state, the flight deck becomes a much more manageable place to work in. However, there are still a lot of important things to know, like where, or more importantly, where not to go.

    “You can get killed or seriously injured by most of the things on the flight deck,” said Rowland. “One of the most important things I can think of is crossing the landing area. It’s a very simple task but can often be done wrong.”

    According to Rowland, nobody is authorized to cross the landing area without permission from the Arresting Gear Officer, and should only cross ten feet aft of the first arresting gear wire.

    As always, attention to detail is very important when working on the flight deck. In an environment where anything can happen at any moment it’s important to remember training and to take every single precaution.

    “In 2012, I was on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson,” said Aviation Ordnancemen 1st Class Edward Pyzik, Safety Department personnel aboard USS Nimitz. “The ABH’s were getting ready to do a move and it was taking them a while to get the plane going. They set up and had to standby for a while.”

    That aircraft ended up rolling over another AO’s leg, crushing it, said Pyzik. The Sailor had to be flown off of the ship. Not only was his life affected that day, but so was the mission.

    The Sailors aboard Carl Vinson that day could have taken steps to prevent that accident. This is just one example of what can happen on the flight deck if a Sailor loses sight of everything around them.

    “I always keep my head on a swivel on the flight deck,” said Rowland. “I don’t focus on one thing, because the second you stop paying attention to everything, you become a danger to yourself and everyone around you.”



    Date Taken: 05.14.2020
    Date Posted: 12.16.2020 16:45
    Story ID: 384898
    Location: ARABIAN SEA

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