Sailors serving as Sonar Technicians assigned to USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) Operations Department, Operations Maintenance (OM) division, work day and night performing a variety of different evolutions in support of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) TWO.
Sonar Technician 1st Class Landon Walker from Memphis, Tennessee, is one of Ford’s five sonar technicians in the OM division. He explains the primary objective of his work center.
“OM division’s primary purpose is to support DESRON with the Carrier Tactical Support Center (CV-TSC), NIXIE [a towed torpedo decoy device], the Under Sea Warfare Decision Support System and the WQC-2A underwater communication system,” said Walker. “Additionally, the MH-60 Romeo Sea Hawk helicopters deploy sonobuoys and we can remotely monitor them from the CV-TSC as well.”
OM division conducts NIXIE streams as a type of torpedo countermeasure, which involves deploying hydrophones into the water with a long cable. The hydrophones serve as a torpedo decoy and the cable creates a magnetic field behind the ship to activate any magnetic detonators in a torpedo.
“The hydrophones generate sound in the water. They look like little torpedoes,” said Walker. “When we put them into the water, they’re towed behind the ship, as a torpedo defense.”
In addition to torpedo defense, OM division plays a crucial role in a man overboard scenario. Walker describes how his team uses their equipment to assist in the recovery.
“CV-TSC also helps out with man overboard scenarios. It’s probably the best tool for finding a person who has gone overboard,” said Walker. “We have an overlay where we can put in the direction of the currents, the speed of the currents, the winds, how long ago the person was reported overboard, and the direction the ships in the Strike Group are going.”
Sonar Technician 2nd Class Andrew Tierce from Victorville, California, explained how they work with other Sailors to obtain the inputs of that information.
“As soon as they call man overboard, we call METOC [meteorological and oceanographic center] and get the weather information,” said Tierce. “We put it in our system and it calculates, in a pretty tight ring, where the person should be.”
In regards to the numerous roles that sonar technicians play into the mission of Ford, Walker said what keeps him motivated is working with the DESRON and the different Air Wing squadrons that come aboard and getting to see the Strike Group from a bigger perspective.
Ford is underway in the Atlantic Ocean conducting first-ever integrated Carrier Strike Group operations with Carrier Air Wing EIGHT, Destroyer Squadron TWO and their Air and Missile Defense Commander, Commanding Officer of USS Gettysburg (CG 64). For more news from USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), visit www.dvidshub.net/unit/CVN78