GULF OF ADEN - While amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) operates in the U.S. 5th fleet area of operations, temperatures often exceed 100 degrees, making it difficult to keep the ship cool.
Engineering department’s Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (AC&R) shop is responsible for maintaining the ship’s walk-in refrigerators, air conditioning plants, ice machines, and cold air circulation throughout the ventilation system to keep temperatures at a comfortable level.
“We have six three-hundred ton chillers on board”, said Chief Machinist’s Mate Jose Jimenez, auxiliary division Lead Chief Petty Officer. “They take refrigerant that cools down water and thus the chilled water circulates throughout the ship to cool down various spaces and systems for our comfort and for the vital equipment that we have on board. If our air conditioning systems were to go down, the ship would have a difficult time completing its mission.”
The air condition system is important to mission readiness because it sustains the temperature of essential equipment and spaces including radar systems, the Joint Intelligence Center (JIC), and the Combat Information Center (CIC).
“You need chill water for a lot of essential equipment like steering and the missile guidance and launching systems” said Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Ryder Leathlean. “Everything needs to be cooled down and we cool it down.”
Sailors from CIC spoke of how integral A/C systems are to their ability to defend the ship from potential threats while standing watch.
“It is very important for us,” said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Corey Sparks, who works in CIC. “It keeps the systems from overheating and without those critical pieces of equipment we wouldn’t be able to see anything past twelve nautical miles. We would be blind and we could not assist the bridge in anything like navigation, forceful backup, and overall monitoring potential threats.”
Troubleshooting AC&R issues can be challenging for the seven Sailors because the A/C system snakes throughout the entire ship and enters virtually every work center on board Boxer, with countless filters that must be routinely replaced.
“Air conditioning and refrigeration is a very important job,” said Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Jacob Hazen. “It’s a very hard job, you stay up late and we work long hours but at the end of the day we get the job done.”
Keeping a population of nearly 3,000 personnel cool, brings challenges and rewards. Sailors from the AC&R shop will continue to answer the call for the welfare and mission readiness of all crewmembers and equipment.
“The most challenging thing is people not maintaining AC boundaries and the hours, we are on call 24/7,” said Leathlean. ”The most rewarding thing is that seven personnel manage to keep this ship cooled.”
Chief Jimenez praised his Sailors for their dedication to the mission and crew, as well as their performance every day.
“I am very proud of the Sailors that work for me,” said Jimenez. “They take great pride in doing what they do to maintain the systems on board on a daily basis.”
Boxer is the flagship for the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
For more news from USS Boxer (LHD 4), visit http://www.navy.mil/local/lhd4/.