By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Grant Wamack
Tucked away inside of the 97,000 ton Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) lies a small space, one level above the officer quarterdeck, rich with the scent of JP-5 jet fuel. Three Sailors with purple shirts surrounded by graduated cylinders, funnels, test tubes, and other diagnostic equipment resemble a group of scientists who work around the clock.
These men and women make up the fuels quality assurance laboratory team and are responsible for testing fuel for contaminants and high temperatures before it’s supplied to the aircraft of embarked Carrier Air Wing 9.
“Our job ensures the integrity of fuel is 100 percent,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) 2nd Class (AW/SW) Joseph Hodge, the fuel laboratory work center supervisor, from Detroit. “This makes sure our aircraft can properly support Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and the overall mission.”
According to Hodge, Sailors test between 150-250 samples any given day. Anytime fuel tanks are swapped out or fuel is transferred from an aircraft, samples are tested.
“Attention to detail is an essential part of our job,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuels) 3rd Class Shane Wolf, from Eager, Az. “For example, when we test for sediment, we have to be conscious of numbers to make sure fuels are within standards.”
Quality assurance is an important part of every Sailor’s job, but for these Sailors it can mean the difference between life and death.
“If an aircraft were to crash, the first place they would come to check is here [fuels quality assurance laboratory],” said Wolf. “If we didn’t do our job properly, it could make fuel unsafe… and potentially lead to people losing their lives.”
As JCSCSG continues to support OEF, the fuels quality assurance team plays a vital role in the mission, ensuring CVW 9 aircraft are supplied with high-quality fuel when supporting coalition ground troops.
The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG), consisting of Stennis, CVW 9, Destroyer Squadron 21, and guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), is forward deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom.
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuels) 3rd Class Roy Hermosillo, from Hemett, Calif., inspects aircraft fuel in the fuel pump room of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Lex T. Wenberg / Released)