FRCSW Support Equipment Rework Shop Revives Shipboard Tools
Exposure to the elements and daily use at sea can take a toll on shipboard aviation equipment.
And like the ship and crew assigned to it, this gear needs rejuvenation upon returning to port. Aboard Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW), the Support Equipment (SE) Rework shop in Buildings 801 and 789 serve as the refurbishment center for these tools.
For over 30 years, the SE shop and its staff of five Sailors and five contractor personnel have handled the technical expertise, tools, and parts that enable Sailors to prepare equipment for its next deployment.
Eight Sailors and contractors work in Building 801, and the remaining two personnel work in Building 789 where the shop’s painting facilities are located.
“The civilian contractors do the maintenance on the support equipment we have like the grinders, our lifts, saws, and blasters. The blasters are used to remove paint from surfaces that can’t be removed in a burn oven, like aluminum which can melt,” said Aviation Support Equipment Technician 1st Class (AS1) Beulah Lashley, who is the shop’s leading petty officer.
“We have one civilian who is a welder, so, if a bolt breaks off of a piece of gear or if something needs fabricated, he can do that work for us. And we have another who will break down and reassemble any work that can’t be completed, like nitrogen carts and maintenance stands.”
Lashley said that the SE shop is funded by Commander, Naval Air Forces.
Homeported and visiting ships offload their support equipment and gear that needs refurbishing, and supply their own manpower to do the work. Those Sailors are usually AS, ordnance, or machinist mates.
“Each ship carries between 30-40 individuals total,” Lashley said, “The most we’ve had working here at one time was 120 individuals.”
“We have also used the shop for training purposes. Last year, we used this (Building 801) as a demo/training area for the new tow tractor tires that can be complicated to work with,” she said.
“Our civilians had fabricated a tire puller to remove the tire from the rim. Otherwise, the tools we have would be two crowbars, a hammer and a V-breaker and it would take hours on end, but with the tool they manufactured it reduced the time considerably.”
The Building 801 facility contains eight work bays, a full-service welding shop, overhead cranes and a tool room to handle scheduled maintenance to major equipment refurbishment. The staff does not work on forklifts or cranes, and is not authorized to rebuild major components like engines and transmissions, but routine maintenance including oil changes are performed.
The rework shop’s primary customers include the aircraft carriers ported at Naval Air Station North Island and amphibious force (Gator) ships.
“Tow bars and tow tractors come through the most, but we also see work on a lot of hydraulic genies, maintenance stands and nitrogen carts,” she said.
“A lot of hard work and effort goes into keeping this gear up and running to support the mission when these ships are out to sea for seven, eight, or 10 months at a time,” Lashley said. “It’s effort from both sides, our Sailors and civilians, who are the basic subject matter experts on a lot of the equipment. It’s pretty amazing the things that we do here.”
Last year, approximately 60,000 pieces of equipment were serviced through the shop, she added.