Meet the Navy's 'Swiss army knife': The sailors who keep carriers and other warships running
US Navy/MCS 3rd Class Megan Wollam
- The Navy's machinist's mates keep its warships in fighting shape, maintaining everything from the catapults that launch fighters off carriers to the kitchen equipment that keeps sailors fed.
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The rate of machinist's mate has a long and proud history in the United States Navy. Established in 1880 as finisher, the rate changed names a couple of times before being settled as machinist's mate in 1904.According to the Navy CyberSpace website on enlisted jobs, "Machinist's mates (non-nuclear) operate, maintain, and repair (organizational and intermediate level) ship propulsion machinery, auxiliary equipment, and outside machinery, such as: steering engine, hoisting machinery, food preparation equipment, refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, windlasses, elevators, and laundry equipment; operate and maintain (organizational and intermediate level) marine boilers, pumps, forced draft blowers, and heat exchangers; perform tests, transfers, and inventory of lubricating oils, fuels, and water; maintain records and reports; and generate and stow industrial gases."Advertisement
With such a wide array of skills and responsibilities, the machinist's mates in George Washington's engineering department prove the value and versatility of the rate to the ship and to the Navy as a whole.
Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Austin Huizar, a sailor assigned to work control, shares how machinist's mates positively impact the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73).
"The main ways that machinist's mates and engineering department support naval aviation is through the catapult shop and [oxygen and nitrogen] shop," said Huizar.Advertisement
In order to convert each gas into liquid form, the air expansion engine lowers the temperature of the air to reach negative boiling points, separating oxygen and nitrogen from air.
In addition to air separation, the unique skillset of machinist's mates ensures a steady level of work whether out to sea, tied up to the pier, or during a maintenance period.Advertisement
The current refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) environment enables them to put their skills to the test in. Sailors from engineering department, such as Machinist's Mate 1st Class Larissa Pruitt, auxiliary division leading petty officer, have provided significant support to accomplishing major ship milestones while in RCOH.
As a rate that has been around for roughly 140 years, machinist's mates will continue to make an impact throughout the surface fleet and the naval aviation community. The hard work of the machinist's mates ensures that George Washington will have a successful redelivery to the fleet.Advertisement
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