USS George Washington’s IM 2 Maintains CVW Aircraft
Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department 2nd Division (IM 2) aboard the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) helps keep Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 mission ready.
IM 2 division disassembles, repairs, rebuilds and tests specialized jet engines used by CVW aircraft.
“We’re basically the ships engine repair shop,” said Aviation Machinist’s Mate Airman Jacob Lichty, from Waterloo, Iowa. “Our job is to ensure every jet engine we receive is perfectly ready to go in every way possible.”
According to Lichty, CVW 5 Super Hornet aircraft use two F414 jet engines and each engine is capable of producing more than 21,000 pounds of thrust.
“We used to use the F404, but this newer iteration is much more powerful, lighter, and generally much more efficient,” said Lichty.
The engines are split into several component parts called modules. Each module is dedicated to a particular part of the engine’s function. For example, the afterburner is a module that delivers more fuel into the engine, which boosts the aircraft’s thrust by more than 50 percent.
“These engines have six different modules,” said Aviation Machinist’s Mate Airman Corbin Riley, from Akron, Ohio. “We rarely ever have to fix an entire engine; we replace particular modules or install newer ones as necessary.”
According to Riley, the IM2 shop has a ‘time to repair or replenish’ schedule that allows each job to typically take less than 32-working hours.
The amount of work they perform depends on how much the air wing is flying. Engines only need to be serviced once they reach a state called ‘high time’.
“High time is defined as more than 3,000 total hours of use,” said Aviation Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Dustin Ligtenburg, from Amboy, Illinois. “To give an example of how long that is, I’ve worked here for two years and I have never seen the same engine twice.”
Jet engines themselves are incredibly sturdy but remain delicate. A single foreign object getting inside an engine can damage or ruin it.
“Although we have enough space and personnel to work on two engines at once,” said Ligtenburg. “We prefer to only work on one at a time to keep us from mixing up parts or paperwork. Foreign object damage is something we focus to avoid.”
IM2 jet shop performs intermediate level maintenance on jet engines. Deeper level repairs require them to send engines to shore facilities that are better equipped to work on module assemblies.
“We basically act as the quick repair shop for the jets,” said Ligtenburg. “However, we can only do so much with the equipment we have; We work with what we have to maintain these engines.”
George Washington and CVW 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 13, 2014; Image: Flickr