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Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan


Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan

MCAS Iwakuni is a mission-ready air station, capable of providing continuous base-operating support for tenant organizations and follow-on U.S. and allied forces during training, combat or contingency (HA/DR) operations throughout the Indo-Asia Pacific region.
Cryogenics helps pilots breathe

By Lance Cpl. Nicholas Rhoades | | February 16, 2012

Station cryogenics, a group comprised of Navy personnel from Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron and Marine Aircraft Group 12, provide Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni with gas and liquefied gas assets.

The air station uses these assets to help accomplish the overall mission of getting as many aircraft as needed in the air on time.

“We support the entire station along with other deployed squadrons by supplying all of their liquid gaseous needs,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Sherwin F. Mansilla, lead petty officer of station cryogenics.

The liquefied gases are found in many different areas of military aircraft and can be used for a variety of purposes.

“One thing we use the gases for is for pressurized tires on aircraft landing gear,” Mansilla.

Tires aren’t the only thing which must hold pressurized, purified gas.

“We can also use the gas for releasing of missiles,” said Mansilla. “A pilot can’t allow for a spark when launching a missile out of the side of the aircraft.”

Missiles may be essential to some missions but one factor which is consistently required is an ablebodied pilot.

“We support every pilot on station by supplying them with liquid oxygen to help them breathe at high altitudes,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Charles J. Berend, machinist mate.

The average breathing requirement for a pilot is roughly one liter of oxygen per minute for every 10,000 feet.

“Aircraft usually have small tanks that can hold a few flights worth of liquefied oxygen,” said Berend. Without oxygen, pilots face the risk of passing out, which may lead to possible injury or death.

The gas is liquefied so it is more concentrated and allows the aircraft to hold more in a smaller tank.

“When oxygen is turned into a liquid, it is condensed 861 times, allowing us to fit a vast amount of oxygen into a small tank in a liquid form,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Edison C. Sarmient, machinist mate.

Oxygen has a boiling point of -297.33 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes it very dangerous and even deadly.

“By simply leaving liquid gas exposed in a room it can expand so much it may offset other gasses and make it deadly to enter a room,” said Sarmient.

Cryogenics is a dangerous job due to the possibility of liquid oxygen combusting, but is a necessary risk in order to accomplish the overall mission of MCAS Iwakuni, and the United States of America.