Combined Crews Key to
Henry M. Jackson's
Successful ERL

by LCDR Stuart Davidson,
Executive Officer of USS Henry M. Jackson (Gold)

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The USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN-730) recently completed the most extensive non-overhaul availability of any submarine to date. Together, the personnel of Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS), TRIDENT Refit Facility (TRF) Bangor, and the fully integrated Blue and Gold crews of Henry M. Jackson accomplished an Extended Refit Period (ERP) that will serve as a model of its kind. This ERP was also used to carry out a complete inventory of the on-board repair parts and a significant upgrading of the stock.

The major difference between an ERP and a normal refit period is the length (five months, vice one) and the scope of the jobs accomplished, many of which would normally be reserved for a regular overhaul. Routinely, refits consist of approximately 500 jobs requiring 30,000 man-hours. During the Jackson ERP, 1,900 jobs were completed, representing 176,000 man-hours of work. The ship returned to sea as one of the best-maintained and most modernized units in the Fleet. Among the new equipment installed during the ERP were a TB-23 Thin Line Towed Array Handling System, a Duplex Cyclic Brine System, upgrades to the ventilation system, EHF SATCOM, and the AN/BQR-22A (EC-15) Sonar Receiving Set. The really good news, however, is that both the overall maintenance cost and the operating time sacrificed to achieve this degree of readiness were dramatically reduced. CAPT Dave Mericle, Blue Crew Commanding Officer, noted that “success of the ERP concept was proven by the early deployment of the ship on her assigned strategic mission less than one week after the completion of sea trials.”

The Jackson ERP was a superb team effort by both the ship’s crew and military and civilian workers from TRF Bangor and PSNS. CAPT Mericle particularly observed how the ship’s “… ability to work together with the maintenance activities made for an early, safe completion of the ERP.” Ashore, directing a highly skilled civilian work force, LT Greg Eckert served as the TRF ERP Project Manager, and Mr. Bruce Brandon was the project supervisor for PSNS. MMCS(SW) Joey Gay was the TRF Repair Ship Superintendent, with ETCS(SS) Tim Berghage the Weapons Ship Superintendent.

The most significant management aspect of this ERP was the opportunity to use both Blue and Gold crews to form a combined refit team during the heavy maintenance period, while still allowing each crew to maintain its operational proficiency. The schedule was specifically crafted to avoid the intensive re-certification process that would be required if a crew remained non-operational for greater than six months. To maintain their proficiency, the Gold crew, which had the lead for the ERP, executed a one-week at-sea period immediately following a Blue crew patrol. This one-week period, which preceded the ERP, served to reset the Gold crew’s “proficiency clock.” At the end of the ERP, the Gold crew took the ship to sea to perform the post-ERP sea trials, which served again to maintain their proficiency. The Blue crew then took over and commenced a deterrent patrol less than six months after their last operational period at sea. Thus, both crews never lost operational proficiency during the ERP process.

Combining the Blue and Gold crews into a single refit maintenance group worked seamlessly for Henry M. Jackson. In large part, this was due to the organization of prior refits on the ship. Following each patrol, the crew that is coming off turns over custody of the ship to the other crew, which then leads the refit. The crew just off patrol provides a “refit-assist” team. It has been standard practice during each refit on Henry M. Jackson to integrate the two crews completely at the junior enlisted level, with members of both crews in each duty section standing watches. During ERP, this integration was taken one step further in that the senior personnel on both crews all stood duty as well. This watchstanding program worked out well throughout the ERP, keeping both crews integrally involved during the entire availability.

The Gold crew planned and coordinated production tasks, associated meetings, and other ship’s maintenance activities. The Blue crew coordinated the maintenance of the barge and also ran the combined crew training plan. With a group of supervisors concentrating almost solely on training issues, the resulting program was very effective. Among many stand-outs here was ETC(SS) Steve Humphrey, who took the lead in training his shipmates on new propulsion plant modifications. Similarly, having a second group of supervisors devoted primarily to production work led to a smoothly executed maintenance and testing program. Major efforts here included the overhaul of key propulsion plant equipment and testing of all seawater systems under MM2(SS) Kevin Lackner and a major refurbishment and check-out of all the radio room equipment under ET1(SS) Michael Parrott. Also, STSC(SS) Gerry McKlosky coordinated the opening, inspection, and close-out of all the ship’s tanks, while FT1(SS) Russell Goltry took charge of correcting sound silencing deficiencies. Off-loading the ship’s strategic missiles – and on-loading them again later – was the responsibility of MT1(SS) Jerry Denton, MT2(SS) Michael Hall, and MT3(SS) Justin Lewis.

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Two HENRY M. JACKSON Sailors perform checks on the oxygen generator.

The operation of the Supply Department during the ERP was also a huge success, and the combined crew concept worked especially well in that area. The supervisors of the Blue Crew Supply Department took responsibility for conducting the Integrated Logistics Overhaul (ILO), but the ILO Team had members from each crew under SKCS(SS) Brian Kelley and SK1(SS) Barry Johnson. Gold Crew Supply Department supervisors managed the large Food Service Operation on the barge, but again the Food Service Division was manned by members from both crews, with MS2(SS) Cris Gallacinao in charge of preparing daily meals for more than 300 crew members.

In order to maintain the unity of the individual crews, the ship organized a series of meetings and social events for both Blue and Gold crews separately. However, to promote unity among the combined crew, other events were conducted with members of both crews participating. A single Plan-of-the-Day (POD) was used throughout the ERP, with crew-specific events highlighted as appropriate.

The Henry M. Jackson was the second TRIDENT submarine to undergo an ERP of this type, with USS Georgia (SSBN-729) having conducted one in 1997. Good interaction among both crews of Georgia and the Henry M. Jackson supervisors paid substantial dividends, because so many lessons learned from the earlier experience could be incorporated directly. TRF Bangor’s Executive Officer, CDR John Szakas was particularly proud to note that:

“The superb performance of all personnel involved has once again proved that intermediate maintenance can extend the operational time of our strategic forces. It worked in the deployed FBM Navy, and now TRIDENT Refit Facility Bangor has proved that it works for the TRIDENT program.”


Memphis Uses Gravity
to Reach New
Navigational Heights

by LCDR Michael Ryan,
Executive Officer of USS Memphis

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Your submarine is on a reconnaissance mission off the coast of a remote country with an unfriendly regime that has been threatening the lives of Americans within its borders. There is growing likelihood of a non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) with U.S. Navy and Marine Corps forces in a key role. You’re there to gather detailed information on the harbor approaches and the situation ashore, but the only charts available are 100 years old, and you have virtually no solid information about the bathymetry of the difficult shallows you’re going to have to cross to get to your vantage point. Further, our potential adversaries are fully alerted, and use of the periscope and fathometer needs to be strictly limited. Mission Impossible? Ask USS Memphis (SSN-691).

Memphis recently served as the test bed for the successful demonstration of a new navigation aid developed by Lockheed Martin Federal Systems to enable submerged submarines to navigate covertly on the basis of sensitive gravitational field measurements. Called the Universal Gravity Module (UGM), the system incorporates gravity sensors – which measure not only the local gravity force, but also its rate of change in three dimensions – and a sophisticated signal processor that generates both terrain estimates and corrected positions from the data. In conjunction with the conventional inertial navigational systems on board, the UGM offers significant promise for maintaining an accurate navigational position without periscope-depth excursions for GPS fixes. Even more exciting is the prospect of underwater terrain avoidance in real time, without the overtness of active acoustic sounding by the ship.

Safe navigation has always been a top priority for the Submarine Force, no matter where we’ve operated. However, as the Navy refocuses its attention on littoral regions while still maintaining its capability to operate in the Arctic, present navigational systems may not serve as well as they had during the previous “blue-water ASW” era. In particular, with attack submarines operating increasingly in these challenging areas, conventional methods may be disadvantaged by their lack of covertness or become downright impossible because of geographical constraints.

The UGM’s capabilities are embodied in two software modules that implement separate navigational algorithms for passive navigation and terrain estimation. The gravity sensor, which measures both the magnitude of the local gravity vector and the gravity gradient, provides the real time data that drive both algorithms.

Fusing Gravity Data for More Precise Navigation
The Passive Navigation Module generates estimates of the ship’s inertial navigator error by fusing gravity measurements, digitally stored gravity maps, and data from the navigator itself. These estimates are used to correct the inertial navigator on a continuous basis, in order to bound navigation errors without the need for periodic external fixes. This provides for ultra-precise navigational accuracy over extended periods of time – a capability that will be particularly important for long duration, under-ice missions in areas where surfacing is impossible.

”Seeing” Terrain Underwater
The Terrain Estimation Module uses gravity gradient measurements that are sensitive to the small field variations caused by local terrain. It generates and displays a quantitative estimate of bottom topography in the vicinity of the submarine, without active emissions of any kind. The resulting three-dimensional display portrays the terrain under the submarine over an area of roughly seven by seven nautical miles, updated every 18 seconds. Approaching sea mounts and ocean ridges can be clearly discerned to a resolution on the order of tens of meters. Memphis’ Commanding Officer, CDR Mark Breor, describes this capability as transforming “the chart into a road map, and the UGM display into your car window.”

In addition to its obvious advantages for aiding navigation, the UGM offers a number of other potential benefits, including:

  • Avoiding massive underwater obstacles, such as oil drilling platforms
  • Detecting nearby deep ice bergs by sensing their scoring of the bottom
  • Exploiting bottom topography for sonar search and weapon deployment

Memphis takes UGM to Sea
After monitoring the performance of the systems installed on USNS Vanguard (T-AG 194) and two SSBNs since the mid-1980s, Lockheed Martin engineer Ray Gorka was “anxious to test the UGM in the more rigorous environment of an SSN”– an opportunity which Memphis was more than eager to provide. During testing this summer, the UGM functioned exactly as designed and provided good data to the ship in a variety of scenarios. LT Chuck Gales, Research and Development Officer on board Memphis, thinks the “possibilities for the UGM are endless! The information it can provide will most certainly revolutionize the way we fight and employ the ship in both Arctic and littoral environments!”

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Shown above is the UGM's 3-D Terrain Estimation Display. It covers an area
of approximately seven by seven miles. The vertical line from the submarine
icon projects current position onto the bottom, with the length of the line
providing a visual representation of the depth below the keel.