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Can-do spirit propels GBS mechanical engineer Kurt Jarchow

The Philippine Navy ship was completely stuck on a coral reef, its 18-ton propellers and shafts badly bent.

To the Philippine Navy, the ship – a former U.S. Coast Guard frigate – was more than just a ship. Its mere presence alone made it an important and valuable asset in the South China Sea.

Kurt Jarchow was relatively new to The GBS Group when he first arrived to help fix it. The Virginia Tech grad had spent the first 34 years of his career as a US Navy civilian mechanical engineer. “Fixing ships” and working on propulsion and auxiliary equipment is what he always did. But this job was significant, with daily problems to solve and minimal equipment to get the job done.

“It was a team effort to provide oversight on how to remove the shafts and props, replace or straighten them, and install new sleeves and bearings,” said Jarchow, a recognized expert in shipboard mechanical systems and a GBS Maritime Division Subject Matter Expert. “They had limited tools and funds over there, so many times, we could not meet the US Navy specs for repair, and had to engineer a solution on the fly to get the ship back in service, reliably, with limited resources.”

It would ultimately take four years and four separate trips to rebuild and reinstall the ship’s propellers and shafts. But the team succeeded. The ship was finally placed back into service in 2022.

“Bob Golden (GBS CEO) said to me when I was hired, ‘Here at GBS we all pull together like Boy Scouts and do whatever has to be done,’” Jarchow said. “Five years later, that’s still true.”

Golden knew Jarchow through the Navy, and offered him a job when The GBS Group won the US Coast Guard steering replacement contract for 27 ships. For Jarchow, the timing was perfect, and it sounded like a great opportunity to work on something new. That hasn’t changed either.

Jarchow said it’s the wide variety of work that continues to make his experience at GBS so rewarding. One day sees him in dirty coveralls installing strain gauges. The next, he’s troubleshooting or overseeing a repair, designing something for manufacture or writing a tech manual. The scenery has stayed interesting too, with first-time trips to places like Japan, Bangladesh and Taiwan. And, of course, the Philippines.

“The great great thing about working at The GBS Group is the people here,” Jarchow said.  “They have a can-do spirit, culture of cooperation and focus on improvement and doing things efficiently.”

Back atcha’, Kurt. We’re so glad to have you aboard!