The service rating ABE revolves around the Launching and Recovery of aircraft from various aviation-capable ships. Within the rating are two Job Titles: Arresting Gear Technician (AGT) and Catapult Technician (CT).

The genesis of naval aviation can be traced to January 18, 1911 when Eugene B. Ely landed his Curtiss pusher biplane on the armored cruiser USS Pennsylvania. The plane’s landing gear had been outfitted with hooks designed to catch ropes stretched across an improvised landing deck; the ropes were weighted with sandbags to slow the plane to a halt. Although the plane’s gear bounced over the first ropes, they snagged the second set and the aircraft came to a stop after traveling just 30 feet.

Arresting gear technology has advanced considerably since the days of ropes and sandbags, but not as much one might think. The MK-7 hydraulic arresting gear system found on U.S. Navy ships has been in use for more than six decades, and likely will be for many years to come: the first ship to feature the new Advanced Arresting Gear, the USS Gerald R. Ford, joins the fleet in 2016 with its first deployment scheduled for 2019.

ABEs working as AGTs inspect, maintain, adjust, operate, and monitor the time-tested MK-7 gear, and they are trained to implement corrective or emergency procedures in the event of malfunctions or mishaps. At higher paygrades, ABEs assume administrative and management duties related to both equipment and personnel. And despite the title, one of the two requirements for the job of AFT is NEC 7006, which involves upkeep and corrective maintenance on C-13 MOD 1 and MOD 2 catapults.

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