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Story Number: NNS080307-23 

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Webb, Makin Island Public Affairs

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (NNS)
-- Seven crew members from pre-commissioning unit (PCU) Makin Island (LHD 8) witnessed a construction milestone Feb. 26, when LHD 8 became the first Navy vessel with a 35,000 horsepower LM2500+ gas turbine engine to successfully complete forward main engine light off (MELO).

LHD 8 is part of the Navy's Smart Ship design, which is an effort to reduce manpower through the increased use of technology. Makin Island is also the first amphibious assault ship equipped with a hybrid electric-drive propulsion system, a 4,160 volt electrical distribution system and an advanced machinery control system (MCS).

Main Propulsion Leading Petty Officer, Gas Turbine Systems Technician, Mechanical (SW) 1st Class Matt Toten participated in the start-up, and ensured LHD 8's MCS communicated between the engine and all of the ship's auxiliary systems for approximately ten minutes.

"Although we don't get the opportunity to actually work on the equipment, tracking these evolutions, conducting test calls and working with NGS allows us [engineers] training opportunities early on in the process, and ensures we know the systems," said Toten.

LHD 8's MCS is a fiber-optic interfaced system that provides primary control and monitoring of ship propulsion, electric plant, damage control and auxiliary machinery, through the use of operator station units and laptops.

Chief Gas Turbine Systems Technician, (Electrical) (SW) Vinceint Pettigrew, MCS leading chief petty officer, explained there were several prerequisites that lead up to the successful forward MELO.

"Preliminary test procedures were conducted for hundreds of signal verifications. Some of these included: hydraulic starting units; fuel, air and lube oil systems, which were installed and interfaced with the gas turbine. MCS required four-software builds facilitate starting, monitoring and normal shutdown of the gas turbine engine," said Pettigrew.

Reaching this major construction milestone, noted Engineman 1st Class (SW) Jevaras Barber, has lifted the morale of the crew.

Engineman 1st Class (SW) Jevaras Barber, noted, "This event gives the crew more information as to how this new class of ship will not only function, but gives light to how the Navy is evolving."

This successful light-off paves the way for an aft MELO scheduled for March that will allow all necessary tests to the ship's propulsion system prior to builder's trials in June and acceptance trials in August.

Following delivery to the Navy in November, Makin Island will transit to San Diego where she will be commissioned in May 2009. Crew detailing to LHD 8 is currently in progress with approximately 565 of 1043 billets filled.

For more news from Pre-Commissioning Unit Makin Island, visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd8/.
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