Air Traffic Controllers: The Elite of the Fleet

Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Adelola Tinubu // Staff Writer

 

Flight operations are an integral part of the daily mission aboard aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). The precise steps necessary to launch and recover aircraft safely is a culmination of efforts from several teams of Sailors, coordinating within each department and squadron.

Much of the work happens in the Carrier Air Traffic Control Center, where Sailors control the direction of aircraft during launch and recovery evolutions. Pilots work closely with experts in CATCC to ensure a safe flight evolution. CATCC controls the airspace surrounding the ship out to 50 miles.

The landing process, one of the most crucial parts of a flight, begins with all aircraft checking in with Marshal. Within this radar scope, the aircraft are directed to fly in calculated circles referred to as Marshal holding pattern, making it possible for CATCC to determine their speed, altitude and location. In this six-minute pattern, airborne aircraft fly in even, predictable intervals.

“Marshal is very important because it’s the first voice after a mission,” said Air Traffic Controller 1st Class Amadeo Chavez. “Marshal is the beginning of the recovery process. Here, controllers set up the aircraft to return safely, and in an orderly fashion.”

Truman’s air boss then sets a “ramp time,” signaling the time he wants the first plane to land on the flight deck. Controllers in CATCC then issue an expected approach time derived from this ramp time. The pilot is responsible for commencing inbound to the ship from Marshal at the expected approach time.

“Everything is carefully orchestrated with the flight deck,” said Cmdr. Ryan Ahler, principal assistant to the Operations Department Officer. “It’s very important that recovery is done at the right time. This is because the flight deck may be launching, making it impossible for airborne aircraft to safely land.”

 

CATCC monitors radar during the approach for landing as each aircraft lines up on the final bearing, the centerline of the ship. A controller working on the approach scope will relay a signal to the pilot to put the wheels of the aircraft down and get into the landing position.

 

“We issue turns, speeds adjustments, altitude and decide when the pilot needs to transition to a landing configuration,” said Air Traffic Controller 1st Class Matthew Dunn. “This makes the landing process last a little longer. But we try our best to balance safety with efficiency.”

 

In order to maintain positive control of the aircraft, controllers in CATCC depend on radar. They also maintain communication with pilots during flight evolutions to mitigate some of the dangers of flying during various weather conditions that reduce the pilot’s situational awareness.

 

“We work based on what we can see,” said Dunn. “At times we are the eyes and ears of the pilot. They rely on us, especially during inclement weather.”

 

Ultimately, the final controller takes over and assumes responsibility for keeping the aircraft lined up on the final bearing, and ensuring the pilot descends at the proper angle.

 

“This is a critical phase of flight,” said Air Traffic Controller 2nd Class Matthew Ferrell. “Ensuring an aircraft receives a good approach is crucial to the aircraft landing.”

 

At about three quarters of a mile away from the ship, the final controller tells the pilot to “call the ball.” The “ball” is a visual landing aid that gives the pilot an idea of where they need to land, allowing the pilot to make small adjustments if necessary.

 

“CATCC is an extremely dynamic environment,” said Dunn. “No two recoveries are exactly alike. Some are very simple and some are complex.”

 

To mitigate any potential complications, the landing signal officer communicates with the pilot the last few quarters of a mile until the plane catches the arresting gear wire and lands safely.

 

“CATCC is responsible for getting our Sailors home,” said Chavez. “I love our job. I believe we’re the elite of the fleet.”

Advertisements

Setting the Bar! Truman Drops Record Number of Ordnance

Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Anthony Flynn // Staff Writer
Continuing the coalition fight against ISIS, Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group has surpassed an operational milestone, delivering the most carrier based ordnance throughout the conflict, substantially degrading ISIS resources and leadership.

After returning from strike missions April 15, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 embarked aboard aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), completed 1,407 combat sorties, delivering 1,118 pieces, over 580 tons, of ordnance. Both the weight and number exceed the total dropped by aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) during its record-setting 2015 deployment.

“Since our arrival in the Arabian Gulf, the Truman Strike Group has been conducting operations around the clock,” said Capt. Ryan B. Scholl, Truman’s commanding officer. “This deployment is busier than any other I’ve seen. Every Sailor is doing great work individually and executing as a combat team to reach this milestone. It is due to this dedication as a combined force that Truman is making a significant difference fighting for our country.”

Truman, in partnership with 64 nations, has taken the fight to ISIS. Now in its fifth month of deployment, the strike group has played a tremendous role in Operation Inherent Resolve.

“I want you to know the impact you are having,” said Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, commanding general, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve. “You’ve seen the [OIR] strike videos; but holistically, what I’m seeing is an enemy who doesn’t have gas left in the tank.”

Truman did not intend to set a Navy record, it was simply a result of the ship’s productivity and efficiency while working toward completing its mission.

“Completing the ship’s mission is something I always look forward to,” said Capt. David “Chicken” Little, commander, Carrier Air Wing 7. “Today marks and signifies the progress we’ve made and how hard we’ve worked as a strike group. Everyone did their part. It’s the dedication of the whole team that makes completing our mission out here possible.”

Deploying during times of conflict is a challenge that requires all hands to achieve mission success.

“We figured based on [Roosevelt’s] deployment that we would be utilized more than our previous deployment,” Cmdr. Jim McDonald, Truman’s weapon’s officer. “We had no idea we would be used to this extent and magnitude. We started dropping bombs December 29 and here we are in mid-April still going strong.”

Truman Sailors responsible for assembling, handling and transporting the ordnance throughout the ship played a crucial role in reaching the amount of bombs dropped.

“The leadership’s number one concern has always been safety, not necessarily the number of bombs we are dropping,” said McDonald. “Making sure things are being done safely, and by the book, has really been our main focus. The air wing being able to successfully put bombs on target tells us that we’re doing our job right.”

It takes thousands of Sailors of various ranks and rates, many on their first deployment, coming together to reach this milestone.

“It takes the training, skill and hard work of all the junior Sailors to make sure we’re operating successfully,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Matt Malone. “As a supervisor I’m making sure our department is putting out a quality product every time, but really it’s their work that keeps the wheels turning.”

Contributions to mission success can be found in every department, on any level of the ship, from the lowest deck, to the flight deck and above.

“I see launches and recoveries all day while I’m checking oil and brakes, making sure our aircraft are good to go,” said Airman Recruit Jake Olson, assigned to the “Wallbangers” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 117. “It’s definitely a rewarding feeling knowing I’m apart of something that has never been done before.”

Truman’s Air Terminal Officer Supports the Mission

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Bobby J Siens // Staff Writer

An aircraft carrier is essentially a floating city, with nearly 5,000 Sailors living, sleeping and eating aboard. Just like any other city, there are needs for an airport terminal, post office, and delivery logistics services.

The Air Terminal Office aboard aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) is responsible for handling the loading and unloading of mail, personnel, repair parts and supplies from Carrier Onboard Delivery aircraft and helicopters.

Logistics Specialist 1st Class Christopher Cole, Truman’s air transfer assistant, said the Air Terminal Office, or the “ATO shack,” plays a larger role in supporting the ship’s mission than some may think.

“The ATO shack coordinates the mail, cargo and personnel coming on and off the ship on a daily basis,” said Cole.

The ATO shack completes its mission with the use of two C-2A Greyhounds, assigned to the “Rawhides” of Fleet Logistic Support Squadron (VRC) 40, MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters, assigned to the “Proud Warriors” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 72, and MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopters, assigned to the “Nightdippers” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 5.

“With one COD we can handle 2,000 to 3,000 pounds of cargo,” said Cole. “With both CODs we can handle up to 6,000 pounds. That’s a lot of mail, parts, or personnel.”

In the event the ship needs a part quickly, or an aircraft or piece of machinery becomes inoperable, the Air Terminal Office takes the lead on getting that part onboard as fast as possible.

“Whether it’s a small part or a big part that is needed, we are the quickest way to get it onboard,” said Lt. Andy Hankins, Truman’s air transfer officer. “We coordinate losely with Supply department and with personnel ashore to make sure we can quickly facilitate getting the ship anything it needs.”

Another area where the ATO shack supports the ship’s mission is by assisting with Truman’s distinguished visitor program. They coordinate flights and assist with the DVs once they land.

“We treat our DVs like the first-class guests that they are,” said Hankins. “We also help them safely navigate the flight deck and ensure that they get to where they need to be aboard the ship.”

The ATO shack is also responsible for maintaining the manifests for all incoming and outgoing personnel on the ship. They handle the air transfer requests and paperwork required to get people on or off the ship.

“I enjoy my job because I get to welcome everyone as they come aboard, and say farewell to everyone as they leave,” said Hankins. “From the seaman who is just checking in, to the executive officer as he departs for his next command.”

The morale boost of bringing mail onboard, the impact of professional service for distinguished visitors, or making aircraft and machinery operational again by ensuring repair parts are delivered quickly, the ATO shack plays an important role in accomplishing the ship’s mission and maintaining operational readiness.

A Century of Service: Everyday Heroes Part 1 of 6

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Bobby J Siens // Staff Writer

Less than one-half of one percent of Americans choose to serve in the U.S. military; however, the call to serve runs strong in the family of one Sailor aboard aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).

Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class Victor Galloway is part of a legacy of military service stretching over the last century.

“My father, grandfather, and great-grandfather all served in the Army,” said Galloway. “My family has had someone serving this country during the last 100 years.”

Galloway’s path to service began in Panama City, Fla. The middle child in a family of 11, Galloway was the only boy. When he was twoyears- old, his parents divorced and Galloway spent much of his younger life living with his mother.

“When I was growing up my family was very poor,” said Galloway. “The house I grew up in was no bigger than 1,000 square feet, and at any given point there would be six of us living there. My mother always made sure that us kids were fed, but I grew up with a constant reminder that every time there was a knock on the door it could be the landlord because she was behind on the rent. I started doing things when I was about 15-years-old to earn a little extra money to help out my mom and the household.”

Galloway said he grew up in the type of place where you either found a way to get out of town or you worked in construction— and he knew he didn’t want to spend his life there.

“I joined the military for a better way of life,” said Galloway. “I wanted to get out of my hometown and go see things that people only saw in books or on TV. The majority of my family lived in the same county for their entire lives; they never really left. I didn’t want that. I wanted to travel and get an education and see things that most people don’t get a chance to.”

Coming from a long tradition of military service, Galloway knew enlisting was his choice to make; however, his choice to serve came as no surprise to his family.

“I have a very long, proud line of military history in my family, on both sides; my mom’s father served 30 years in the Air Force,” said Galloway. “When I was growing up my family wanted me to join, but they said it was my decision.”

Once Galloway decided to join the Navy, he knew his parents would wonder why he didn’t choose to follow the long-standing tradition of Army service.

“I wanted to do something different, I wanted to do something that nobody in my family had done before,” said Galloway. “I wanted to pave my own way and create my own legacy. Being first generation Navy did just that.”

Galloway has served in the Navy for 12 years. In that time, he has been on three deployments; Iraq in 2006 with a Marine Corps squadron, and two deployments aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) in 2008 and 2010.

During his 2010 deployment aboard Lincoln, Galloway’s first son was born while he was underway. He met his son for the first time when he was three months old.

“I flew home and got to meet my son for the first time,” said Galloway. “At that moment I knew I had to do everything I could to take care of him.”

Galloway said he has been asked if he thinks his son will eventually continue his family’s legacy.

“Honestly I want him to make his own choices in life rather than be pushed into something,” said Galloway. “If he decides to serve then I will definitely support that.” Galloway has been serving aboard Truman since August 2014. He is currently the leading petty officer for the ship’s F/A-18 Radar Fire Control work center.

“I enjoy the mental aspect of my job, the problem solving,” said Galloway. “Every piece of equipment that comes in this shop presents a new problem that we have to solve. That’s what I like about my job.” Galloway’s Sailors serve as his greatest source of motivation.

“If you take care of your people, your people will take care of you,” said Galloway. “They motivate me to get up and do my job every single day. Without them I can’t do my job. When my Sailors have a problem, that means I have a problem. It’s my job to make sure they are taken care of, because they’re my Sailors.”

Galloway made board for chief petty officer, March 2016. He is currently assembling his chief package and hopes to be selected for advancement this upcoming season. Galloway said he wants to make the most of his Navy career and retire knowing he contributed 20 years of faithful service to his family’s legacy.