Cable Snap: failure of cross deck pendant on aircraft carrier

Posted on 02. Dec, 2008 by in Featured

I was surprised to find an incredibly clear example of an arresting cable failing on the USS George Washington. A F/A-18 is almost fully decelerated when the cross deck pendant parts (arresting cable breaks). It shows in detail what my last post described.

As the cable plays out from the arresting gear room below deck, watch the left side. The puff of smoke is the cross deck pendant parting (breaking). You can see the Hornet re-accelerate before the camera comes off. I have read it ended up in the water but have not verified that. The camera shifts to the cable as it swings as I described below across the deck. Watch the arresting gear Petty Officer leap over the swinging cable not once but twice as it snapped around like a whip. The cable takes the feet out from underneath a fireman (red shirt/silver flame retardant pants); an example of why you NEVER take your eyes off the action on a flight deck. It is the most dangerous place to work in the world; average age is around 19 years old. These young men and women do an incredible job 18 hours a day. But you have to keep your head on a swivel all 18.

Lucky for the fireman most of the energy had dissipated before the cable broke and a lot more before it hit him as it swung. They have cut men in half in the past. When I was a student back in the day I was told by my T-2 Buckeye instructor: “You can never relax in Naval Aviation, not after landing, not even after shutting down. Not until you are in your rack; and then you better keep one ear open in case there is an onboard fire or something else.” Head on a swivel!

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