(NNS) -- The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) prepared to start a dry-dock planned maintenance availability (DPMA) period at Naval Station San Diego, Sept. 29.
After nearly an entire year spent at sea on deployment followed by two joint operation exercises, Bonhomme Richard's crew will experience a change in environment from one of operational maritime security to ship preservation and warfare training.
"The DPMA period is an opportunity for big Navy to re-outfit Bonhomme Richard with the most modern equipment they can find," explained Lt. Stephen Shetler, Bonhomme Richard's ship maintenance material officer, who has experienced five DPMA periods in his career.
"Right now there's a lot of the coordination back and forth between the actual contractors and the ship to get ready for the start date," said Shetler.
Bonhomme Richard Deck Department has been preparing for the upcoming DPMA period for months, through planning of Tiger Teams and scheduling of space preservation, said Assistant First Lieutenant, Lt. Dwayne Williams.
"Our operational tempo has been high, so this chance will allow us to get some much needed repairs to the ship that we had not been able to commit to," said Williams. "It will also allow our Sailors, especially junior Sailors, some time to go to school."
Williams said that Deck department is responsible for more than 80 spaces and for the outside appearance of the ship; preservation efforts are continuous.
The Information Systems division on Bonhomme Richard has been planning for system modifications taking place during and after the DPMA period. Many divisions will receive updated computer equipment as part of the DPMA.
A large part of the upgrading process is the collection of broken or outdated equipment, said Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Jonathan Foster, who is active in the collection process.
"We are coordinating with the divisions and keeping them informed on what new equipment they will receive, as well as what they need to turn in to us to get their new equipment," said Foster.
Foster explained the Information Systems division also has the tasking of setting up computer networks on the barge, which will act as office space and berthing areas for various divisions during the DPMA. Because of space constraints, adjustments had to be made to the amount of data being stored on the current network servers.
Safety for the ship's crew during the various overhaul stages is a great concern, said Shetler. The work environment will change drastically and additional personal protection equipment will be required to be worn at all times while on the ship.
"It's going become a lot more industrial. We will be doing some major structural modifications, which come with industrial work. Hard hats and eye protection are going to be a big deal," said Shetler.
Bonhomme Richard's DPMA period is expected to last approximately nine months.
For more news from USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd6/.