With all of its major certifications and milestones complete, USS SPRUANCE (DDG 111) is slated to set sail from Bath Iron Works (BIW) on September 1st
In order to sail away from Bath, Maine SPRUANCE had to certify its engineering plant, complete a series of Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection (ATFP) Drills, and pass a Navigational review.
Long hours spent by all 278 crew members have paid off – not only is SPRUANCE sailing away on time, but she has also established a great reputation within the Bath community and along the San Diego waterfront – commendable feats for any ship, and all the more so for a pre-commissioned unit.
While SPRUANCE has completed two successful transits down the Kennebec River earlier in the year for Sea Trials, this will be the crew’s inaugural Sea and Anchor Detail. SPRUANCE Sailors will be in charge of every aspect of the ship, from manning the Oil Distribution Boxes in the engineering plant to steering the ship in the pilothouse. “Every Sailor has a critical assignment and understands that his/her role is pivotal in SPRUANCE’s safe transit to sea,” says FCCS Steven Cosgrove, SPRUANCE’s Enlisted Watchbill Coordinator.
Over a year of preparation and planning led up departure day. The first SPRUANCE Sailors arrived in Bath, Maine in the fall of 2009 and laid the groundwork that has turned SPRUANCE into a Fleet asset. Writing instructions, inspecting and accepting spaces, and testing over 10,000 pieces of equipment were some of the most basic requirements these Sailors completed before the rest of their colleagues arrived. The crew worked closely with their counterparts at BIW, who brought SPRUANCE from a lifeless hull to a workable, habitable, sea-worthy vessel in less than two years.
Perhaps more impressive than SPRUANCE’s sail-away on September 1st were the certifications the crew completed during the month of August. During Light-off Assessment (LOA), SPRUANCE’s engineers spent days and nights correcting discrepancies and conducting checks on all of their equipment to ensure that everything they owned worked properly. Senior assessors from Engineering Assessment Pacific (EAP) showered SPRUANCE’s Engineering Department with accolades, saying that it was the best ship that they had seen in recent memory and that the crew’s morale and enthusiasm was immeasurable. SPRUANCE’s second inspection was its ATFP Certification, where the crew scored 96.6%, one of the highest scores the Afloat Training Group Pacific has given out in the past year. ATFP Drills require that the entire crew respond quickly and correctly to a multitude of terrorist threats, and the fact that the crew has only been onboard the ship for eight weeks is a true testament to their ability and intelligence. Assessors once again praised the crew for its fervor and ability – traits which led to scores of 92% and higher on thirteen out of seventeen drills.
The assessments culminated over the past two days with Crew Certification, a true test of SPRUANCE’s cohesiveness and ability to “fight the ship” (a Navy saying that means keeping the ship afloat after experiencing simulated engineering or structural casualties). Man overboard drills, fires in engine rooms, and medical casualties were practiced at all hours of the day in order to prove to senior assessors that SPRUANCE had what it takes to survive at sea. Now that this final certification is completed, SPURANCE’s crew will sail the ship away from Bath one last time. “It is an exciting time for the entire crew and our families,” Commander Westbrook, SPRUANCE’s first Commanding Officer, said on Monday. “It took an entire community to build this ship and her crew, and we cannot thank BIW and the Bath Community enough for their unending support.”