USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) 

Official U.S. Navy file photo.
Blue Ridge Concludes Initial IRAT 
By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Michael Hendricks, USS Blue Ridge Public Affairs 
YOKOSUKA, Japan -- Inspection and Readiness Assist Team (IRAT) arrived aboard U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) for its initial inspection of the ship's operating equipment Aug. 31.

IRAT is a team of highly qualified and experienced personnel who travel from ship to ship throughout the Navy. Their main purpose is to assist the ship's crew by educating and training them on what it will take for the ship to have a successful INSURV.

All inspections are divided into warfare areas, such as deck, communications, operations, damage control and engineering. The IRAT team has specially trained members for each of the required areas to closely inspect all the items that will be on the INSURV inspection lists.

On this first visit, seven IRAT team members came aboard to inspect engineering equipment.

IRAT is not limited to just one area of responsibility; the team visits ships across the world helping to assist shipboard crews and point out any discrepancies.

According to Jim Reid, this gives Sailors a jump start in the right direction and makes a significant impact.

"Since we started doing pre-inspections with IRAT about two years ago, there has not been a single ship that has failed INSURV," Reid said.

"To increase our effectiveness we try to observe INSURV while it is in progress," Reid said. "This gives us information on how they grade and inspect and enables us to bring this information with us to the next ship we go to. Through this knowledge, they can be better prepared."

IRAT comes aboard well in advance to find as many discrepancies as possible to give the ship enough time to order new parts and fix anything that is out of order or working improperly.

On the first day of inspection one of the areas IRAT inspected was the ship's Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus.

"IRAT is a huge help," said Damage Control Fireman Allison Lance, the repair parts petty officer for the damage control shop. "They brought a few things to our attention that we can fix going into ship's restricted availability."

INSURV is coming up in January 2013 and is a congressionally mandated inspection to help maintain the Navy's Fleets around the world.
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