News | Dec. 21, 2022

Essential Repairs Needed: Getting A Bird to Fly

By USS Gerald R. Ford Public Affairs

The first-in-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) aviation structural mechanics work with Sailors from various Fleet Readiness Centers (FRC), who are temporarily assigned to Ford’s aircraft intermediate maintenance department (AIMD), to support the readiness of the various squadrons aboard.

Aviation Structural Mechanic Airman Hunter Scardami, assigned to Ford’s AIMD, said he enjoys his job as a mechanic.

“We have so many different shops that we can go into and learn,” Scardami said. “There are so many different things that we can then apply to our normal lives through the knowledge that we learned here on the ship. I love it.”

According to Scardami, with the air wing aboard, individual squadrons are responsible for accomplishing organizational-level maintenance for their aircraft, which includes the units’ day-to-day support of its own operations. The FRC Sailors aboard work alongside the ship’s AIMD Sailors, performing intermediate-level maintenance to enhance and sustain their combat readiness and mission capability of supporting squadrons by providing an expanded knowledge base and a detailed understanding of intricate and specialized aircraft parts.

“It’s great that we have the FRC Sailors aboard and how they are able to teach the ship’s company what they work on,” Scardami said. “A tail rotary blade came into our shop recently; I had no idea how to work on it, but the FRC sailors did. I got to help them and learned how to do the job myself.”

Aviation Structural Mechanic 2nd Class Tate Fjetland, assigned to the Norfolk, Virginia, Fleet Readiness Center, is one of the Sailors who shares their knowledge with Ford’s AIMD.

“You’ll run into these types of equipment more often at FRC,” Fjetland said. “You won’t see these types of gears on a ship unless the air wing is aboard. We work with most of the squadrons on a regular basis in Norfolk.”

Fjetland believes it is important to pass on the knowledge he has acquired to Ford’s company.

“I like to train people, like Scardami, who are very enthusiastic and always ready to learn,” Fjetland said. “The more people who know how to do a particular job, the easier it is on everyone and it helps that person in the long run as well.”

The squadrons aboard Ford can efficiently accomplish their mission because of the combined efforts of both the FRC and Ford’s AIMD.

“Without us, birds can’t fly,” Fjetland said.

Fjetland said FRCs save the Navy a lot of money on parts because of the work they do repairing equipment.

The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group (GRFCSG) is deployed in the Atlantic Ocean, conducting training and operations alongside NATO Allies and partners to enhance integration for future operations and demonstrate the U.S. Navy’s commitment to a peaceful, stable and conflict-free Atlantic region.