Aviation Machinist's Mate 1st Class Laray Northern moves a turbine engine into place before an engine installation in the hanagar bay aboard the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman. The ship's Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department recently scored "on-track" on all 44 points of its aviation maintenance inspection. (MCSN Lorenzo J. Burleson / Navy)
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The carrier Harry S. Truman's Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department recently aced a biennial inspection, an extremely rare feat, particularly after coming off an extended availability that kept some sailors out of the hangars.
On all 44 checkpoints, the department scored an "on-track," the highest of three ratings, for its biannual Aviation Maintenance Inspection on Jan. 14. With available records going back to March 2010, Naval Air Forces Atlantic said no other aircraft carriers scored this well.
The every-other-year inspection considers the maintenance department equipment, safety procedures, maintenance practices, training and other factors.
On-track doesn't mean a ship scored perfectly in an area, but rather that its deviations from standards weren't too serious or demanding of considerable attention.
"Overall, this is an inspection that is all-encompassing, from synergy of workforce to safety," said Cmdr. Art Harvey, AIMD officer on the Truman, in a message sent while the ship completes a Composite Training Unit Exercise in the Atlantic Ocean.
Intermediate maintenance is one of two maintenance levels on a carrier. Organizational maintenance is done by squadrons and includes minor adjustments, day-to-day inspections and regular upkeep. It's the naval aviation equivalent of taking a car to a gas station garage. Intermediate maintenance is more involved. There, aircraft are disassembled, significant repairs to systems are made and other complex work is done. It's like sending your car into the shop for a few days. Truman's recent inspection focused on this deeper type of maintenance.
Harvey said it was tough to get the crews ready for the inspection because a 16-month-long docking planned incremental availability, or DPIA, period ended five months before the inspection began. The hiatus from regular operations meant maintenance was put on hold and sailors were working on other parts of the ship, none of which involved fixing aircraft.
This meant when the availability was over, the maintainers were out of practice and needed to refresh their skills.
So how did they do it?
All sailors who were at a schoolhouse or on temporary additional duty had to attend a training course before they could check back into the ship.
"This training was designed for each individual work center and integrated all maintainers to the hazards associated with that work center," Harvey said.
Also, the Naval Aviation Maintenance Program released revisions that sailors in intermediate maintenance needed to understand.
Additionally, chief petty officers were required to learn new processes and maintenance programs from the ground up. Since they were new to a topic, they would ask several questions that forced others to explain how things were done and figure out if their old habits were in line with current procedures.
And finally, it was all capped off with drills and practicals.
"All of these training aids that Truman utilizes can be adopted by other ships," Harvey said.
While rare, Truman's accomplishment has happened before, but it's not clear if another carrier has done as well. In 2007, the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard received all "on-track" scores, a Navy news release said.