TR’s Cal Lab’s Rise to the Top

ARABIAN GULF – Emerging from a four-year refueling and complex overhaul, the calibration lab aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt CVN 71 was at the bottom of the fleet’s metrology and calibration report (METCAL).

“It’s pretty important because a lot of the watches around the ship, a lot of the maintenance personnel and squadrons, they depend on a piece of gear, gauge, a torque wrench or whatever, to be exactly what [we] say it is,” said Chief Aviation Electronics Technician Gamal Williams, formerly calibration lab’s leading chief petty officer.

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TR’s calibration lab is now top of the METCAL list. The METCAL report compares the aircraft carriers’ calibrated equipment readiness. TR’s triumph would have been impossible without the hard work and perseverance of the Sailors aboard.

TR’s calibration lab Sailors do more than address the calibration needs of TR and the aircraft of Carrier Airwing One. While on deployment they’re accountable for the calibration needs of all five ships in the strike group and any other ships or aircraft within the area of operations. When TR pulls into Bahrain, every command in Bahrain floods the calibration lab with gear.

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“There’s a lot of teamwork involved with everybody,” said Williams, talking about the 14 Sailors who work in the calibration lab, as well as the 5 calibration petty officers from other departments. “We support strike force intermediate maintenance activity and the area of operations. We not only support the ship and squadron, we support every ship that’s in our battle group and every command that’s in Bahrain.”

On the aviation side, Sailors in the calibration lab repair the equipment Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD) uses to fix aircraft parts.

“That has to be exact,” said Williams. “So when they fix the radar component, engine mount or whatever it is, and they put it in the aircraft, that’s now safe for flight. They’re good to go.”

On another side of the lab, the Sailors are calibrating everything from Reactor’s equipment to the self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) bottles used for fighting fires.

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“Say I’m on watch and I’m supposed to check this fire main because it can’t get below 125 psi [pounds per square inch] or 100 psi, and the gauge says 150 psi. But that gauge has been out of calibration for two years and it’s stuck at 150. Then there’s a fire and they go to open up the fire main and there’s really only 50 psi on that line. Now my fire team is in danger,” said Williams.
The climb to number one was no simple task. Certain factors, such as a lengthy deployment, make it difficult to calibrate equipment.

“Once the systems go up we can’t always tag them out because we’re on deployment,” said Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Sean Bowen, the calibration lab’s leading petty officer. “If it’s a main or critical system, they’re not going to tag it out.”

TR is responsible for calibrating more than 4,000 pieces of equipment. Items that still need calibration are classified as overdue. TR’s overdue list is now under two percent.

“Currently we’re number one in the fleet,” said Bowen. “The goal was to get below two percent. Right now we’re at 1.8. We’re the only carrier in the fleet right now that is below two percent.”
Superior calibration numbers compared to the rest of the fleet means better efficiency when it comes to operations as well as bragging rights.

AIMD Sailors didn’t do it alone. Williams stressed the importance of steady support and collaboration with other Sailors, even during their time off.

“We actually get personnel from Engineering, Reactor and Air department, and we’re lucky enough to have a Devil Dog,” said Williams. “They put the long hours in when we were in port, when other people were leaving. There were times that they were here until 17, 18, 1900.”

TR’s calibration laboratory reached a milestone. Starting from the bottom and climbing to the top is an achievement that reflects the shop’s dedication. TR is now one of the highest-ranked carriers ever when it comes to METCAL.

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“I know they’ll continue it. It’s just who they are,” said Williams. “It wasn’t even something that you had to tell them about. It was never that. Once they saw the numbers they took it personally. They wanted those numbers to be as high as humanly possible. I’m just proud to be able to say I worked with them. It’s solely because of those guys in there.”

Theodore Roosevelt is the flagship of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG), which is composed of Carrier Strike Group 12, Carrier Air Wing 1, Destroyer Squadron 2 staff, the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) and the guided-missile destroyers USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), USS Farragut (DDG 90) and USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98).

Roosevelt is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the region.

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Stephane Belcher, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs

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