AUGUST 10, 2016, ARABIAN GULF (NNS) – A squadron’s line shack consists primarily of airmen new to the squadron who begin with little or no on-the-job training. Also known as plane captains, the line shack plays a key role in a squadron’s operational effectiveness, as they wear several hats throughout the launch and recovery process.
These Sailors are given a chance to interact with the aircraft at a basic level and learn its essential overall workings. By the time airmen join or choose a rating within the squadron, they ideally have a more comprehensive understanding of their aircraft.
“We get all the Sailors either new to the Navy or straight out of “A” school,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Joshua Malone, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 74 line shack leading petty officer. “When they first get to the squadron, they go straight to line shack. Here is where new Sailors gain a knowledge base to start off with. By the time they leave the shop, they should have a general idea of how the aircraft works and how all the individual components work together. From there they can go on to specialize in certain areas of their rating or, if they are an undesignated airman, they can determine what area they are proficient in and follow that career path.”
Line shack Sailors run chocks and chains on the flight deck, perform daily checks (commonly called “dailies”) on aircraft and perform maintenance, all while working on essential qualifications.
“One of our main jobs is to preform dailies on the aircraft, usually near the end of the day,” Aviation Structural Mechanic Airman Victor Rosario said. “When the pilots come back, we essentially do a full inspection of the aircraft to check for any discrepancies.”
Line shack rotations are typically 12-18 months. Most of that time is spent trying to obtain plane captain qualifications and the last six months working as a plane captain.
“I’ve been with line shack for about a year and I’m advancing towards my plane captain qualification while really getting a feel for the aircraft,” Rosario said. “I also look forward to getting some in-rate qualifications as well. I’ve learned a lot about the different components in the aircraft and how all the ratings work together to make them fly.”
This entry-level heavy lifting is no doubt hard work, but plays a principal role in a carrier’s mission and the preparation of junior Sailors.
“These are probably the hardest-working, dirtiest guys in the squadron,” Malone said. “I’m proud to work with them, and am glad to see their skillsets improve every day.”