January 23, 2017 – The crew aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) took a major step forward in its transition from Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH) to redelivery to the fleet by welcoming the return of its aircraft crash and salvage crane on the flight deck, Jan. 19.
The evolution was a joint effort between Lincoln’s air department and aircraft intermediate maintenance department.
“[The cranes] presence on the flight deck symbolizes the transition from a yard ship to a war ship,” said Abraham Lincoln’s Maintenance Officer, Cmdr. Kevin Bittle.
Affectionately named “Tilly”, the crane’s move aboard is vital for any U.S. aircraft carrier to conduct flight operations. Its purpose is to provide support to the ship’s crash and salvage team in the event of an aircraft or flight deck mechanical failure. Without a crash and salvage crane, aircraft are not allowed aboard the ship. Consequently, the ship would be unable to perform flight operations.
“Tilly is very high-profile, so I was a little nervous to be the first person to drive it on the ship,” said Aviation Support Equipment Technician 2nd Class Toby Cook, a member of Abraham Lincoln’s aircraft crash and salvage crew. “Having Tilly aboard gives me a sense of pride and ownership because that’s what Sailors in my rate work on, and I am excited to be able to do that job.”
Along with Tilly, an aircraft shell was brought aboard to conduct more realistic flight deck and firefighting drills, signifying further progress toward an operational flight deck. “You only see Tilly and the dummy aircraft on operational aircraft carriers,” said Capt. Ron Ravelo, Lincoln’s commanding officer. “This is another example of our carrier coming back to life.” Lincoln is in the final stages of a four-year refueling and complex overhaul and will be delivered back to the fleet in early 2017.