SAN DIEGO – For the first time in nearly two years, USS Russell (DDG 59) departed Naval Base San Diego for an underway under her own power Oct. 28 to conduct a week of contractor sea trials to wrap up an $84 million Extended Dry Dock Selective Restricted Availability (EDSRA) period.
The schedule of events included an underway replenishment, Close-in Weapons System (CIWS) shoot, 25mm gun shoot, crew-serve weapons shoot, anchoring evolutions, and a full-power run event. Despite such a prolonged time in the yards, Russell accomplished all of the events.
One of the biggest challenges was managing an extremely aggressive engineering testing schedule, which included a light-off assessment, dock trials, and a fast cruise. The schedule would not have been possible without close cooperation between the engineering and supply departments.
“The supply department did phenomenal work in obtaining the parts we needed to get underway on this timetable,” said Cmdr. James Harney, Russell’s commanding officer. The supply department expedited over 50 parts in the two weeks prior to Russell’s first underway in 662 days, ensuring the ship was able to have minimum equipment for sea trials.
According to the ship’s senior leadership, what really made the underway successful was the incredible performance of the Russell crew.
“The crew performed well above average, especially during high-risk evolutions such as the underway replenishment,” said Command Master Chief Glenn E. Hurdle. “Their morale is at an all-time high now that they’ve been able to finally execute what they’ve been trained to do.”
Going to sea with a crew that had mostly never been underway proved a unique challenge.
“We had to build-in extra supervision to mitigate risk,” said Lt. Christina L. Humphries, Russell’s combat systems officer. “I was surprised how quickly the crew adapted and in the end we were able work alongside the ships that have significant underway time.”
Russell’s first division completed five special evolutions, from practice man overboards to anchoring, all without injury or damage to equipment.
“Smooth operations without incident were my biggest surprise,” said Chief Boatswain’s Mate Nathan C. Ellsworth.
The main benefit of the underway was that Russell established a battle rhythm the crew can use as a foundation. “We found a template that works and really solidified how to do business in the future,” said Lt. Elizabeth McMullen, Russell’s weapons officer.
Before the underway, no one really knew if the ship’s machinery would hold up under the stresses of continuous use since it had been idle for so long during the maintenance period.
“We knew the engines worked,” said Chief Warrant Officer Steven B. Marcos, Russell’s main propulsion assistant. “We just didn’t know for how long.”
Marcos said the underway was the first time in nearly two years that all seven of the ship’s gas turbine engines were operating simultaneously, culminating in a full-power run.
“We accomplished the full-power run on our first try, which greatly exceeded my expectations,” said Marcos.
Perhaps the lack of any incidents is what was most unexpected about the underway. “The biggest surprise was that there were no surprises,” said Lt. Puriphat Surarujiroj, Russell’s supply officer.
The EDSRA was part of the Naval Sea Systems Surface Warfare (SEA-21) Comprehensive Modernization Program. Russell is assigned to Destroyer Squadron 1.