SAN DIEGO - USS Freedom (LCS 1) continued a scheduled, four-month milestone maintenance period July 28.
Every new ship conducts a post-shakedown availability (PSA) which is designed to harness results of a thorough test and evaluation period and pave the way to operational employment by the U.S. Navy.
During the availability, contractors repair or improve the design of the ship in preparation for final contractor trials.
"In dry-dock the contractors can better focus on our water jets, to make sure they are fully functional, our impeller shafts and water jet tunnels," said Freedom's Gold Crew commanding officer, Cmdr. Matthew Weber. "Top side, they are doing various alterations to improve it for future operations with our magazine modifications and our mooring configuration change. Welding repairs to the cracks in the super structure were addressed in the previous maintenance availability."
After the availability, Freedom will go through final contract trials and commence scheduled fleet operations while continuing mission module and other testing.
"This whole process starts with acceptance trials where we initially find things that could be improved upon," said Weber. "Then, after several months at sea with the crew to evaluate all elements of the ships systems and design, the contractor can better address the improvements of the ship and apply those lessons into subsequent designs."
Weber also said that with all new construction ships, the repairs and design improvements made on the lead ship in the class will not only be helpful to Freedom, but will also cascade into subsequent ships of the class as they are built.
Freedom's Sailors are looking forward to those improvements.
"A lot of the changes that the contractors are making will make my job easier," said Lt. John Buss, Freedom's navigator. "For example, they are making a block zone on the bridge smaller so as officer of the deck, I will have better visibility when I'm driving the ship."
Freedom is currently scheduled to complete the final contract trials in December.
Freedom's Blue and Gold crews continue to maintain their four-month crew rotation, even in the shipyard. Gold Crew is scheduled to have an exchange of command with their Blue Crew counterparts Aug. 15.
"There are elements of continuity of command and control that you have to make sure is fully accounted for when you shift LCS commanding officers. We call it an exchange of command. We have to turn over all our weapons, keys, inventory our classified documents, and also brief each other on the current situation," said Weber. "We have conducted turn over in yard periods before, and it has always gone pretty smoothly."