Weapons Assembly Division aboard USS George Washington
The G-3 weapons assembly division serves the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington’s (CVN 73) mission by assembling the various kinds of ordnance needed for the approximately aircraft stationed aboard the ship.
While the various weapons divisions work independently, each weapons division plays a specific role to ensure the ship and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, are well equipped for the mission ahead. G-3 serves as the weapon assembly division, ensuring that all weapons are properly assembled and ready to go.
“We’re the ones that actually put together the weapons and their various mission-oriented parts they have,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Zachary Guilmet, from Hickory, N.C. “We handle our ordnance in several separate pieces. A bomb has many different parts that we can use to customize our weapons for a variety of purposes.”
Weapons are originally in separate pieces with the necessary components added on during assembly.
“There are general purpose, guided unit, low collateral, and training type weapons to name a few,” said Guilmet. “We also have weapons of differing weights and explosive composition.”
G-3 works to provide CVW 5’s aircraft with the weapons they need to perform their duties.
“Our job is dependent on CAG’s [Carrier Air Group] needs,” said Guilment. “Sometimes we don’t put anything together, and other days we assemble more than 50 bombs.”
The entire ship can hold nearly 300 tons of ordnance, spread across different storage locations throughout the ship, colloquially referred to as magazines. At times, the ship can sink three to five feet from the weight of all the ordnance.
“We have magazines made for certain kinds of weapon storage,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Thurman McDowell, from Muskegon, Mich. “We have a magazine for small arms and aircraft munitions, and we have two for both bombs and missiles.”
The weapons are assembled in special bomb assembly areas where up to 10 Sailors work together for more than 16 hours to properly outfit each bomb for its intended purpose.
“It’s actually not that hard, but it’s still pretty stressful too,” said Guilment. “After all, these are explosives we’re dealing with. But as long as we follow instruction we’ll come out all right.”
George Washington and Carrier Air Wing 5 provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
Press Release, June 02, 2014; Image: Wikimedia