SAN DIEGO – The crew of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) reached the 50 percent completion marker ahead of schedule for the Chief of Naval Operation’s phased maintenance availability (PMA) at its homeport of Naval Base San Diego August 5.
Commander, Navy Regional Maintenance Center Rear Adm. William J. Galinis, a native of Delray Beach, Florida, recently toured Makin Island for a real-time update on the contractor’s progress and overall ship’s success.
“Thanks to the teamwork between the ship’s crew, Southwest Regional Maintenance Center, (SWRMC) and contractors, the ship has made very good progress,” said Galinis. “There is a strong focus on what we call ‘growth work’ and a clear path has been laid out which will lead to success in the end.”
Teamwork between SWRMC, National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) contractors and ship’s force is crucial to keeping the ship on its scheduled timeline. Daily huddles and weekly production meetings take place to discuss the progress and plan of action.
“We started planning with the contractors before we returned from deployment and established working relationships, expectations and a workable battle rhythm out of the gate,” said Commanding Officer, Capt. Jon P. Rodgers, a native of Humboldt, Tennessee. “Establishing a cohesive team across the crew, SWRMC and the contractors that represent the best of American shipbuilding in San Diego proved vital to our success.
SWRMC provides intermediate level maintenance support and selective maintenance training to over 100 surface ships, submarines, shore activities and other commands of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
This PMA is the second time Makin Island has entered a maintenance period since its christening in 2006. The 847-foot Wasp-class ship, with a unique hybrid propulsion system, began its PMA on April 27 following a scheduled seven-month deployment.
“During our time in PMA, we are looking to upgrade and modernize major equipment necessary to maintain our war fighting capabilities such as non-skid on the flight deck, necessary for flight operations, and ship’s service diesel generators, to ensure long service life and functionality of engineering systems,” said Makin Island’s PMA coordinator, Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Woolley, a native of Denver, Colorado.
“One of the major jobs will be a back fit and upgrade of the collective protection system (CPS). This expanded capability will modernize and improve CPS function, which protects critical areas of the ship during a Chemical, Biological, or Radiological attack. The CPS system maintains a positive pressure and filters incoming air brought into critical manned areas,” he said.
Makin Island’s Chief Engineer, Cmdr. Dzung Davis, a native of Honolulu, explains the difference between the types of repairs.
“Intermediate level maintenance complements and bridges a gap between the routine shipboard repairs which are performed by ship crew, and depot level repairs which are industrial repairs performed during periodic ship overhauls by Navy and commercial shipyards,” said Davis.
Although contractors are brought on board to perform maintenance on the ship, select Sailors are also assigned to teams to assist with these projects. “Sailors assigned to these teams assist with restoring habitability of the ship by painting the ship, resurfacing decks and upgrading the interior of the ship with safety being the primary focus,” said Woolley.
“I am inspired by the innovation, creativity, ingenuity and resourcefulness of this crew during this PMA,” said Rodgers. “Seeing Sailors and Marines take full ownership of their spaces and finding the ‘how we can’ solutions is representative in the pilot house and ship’s admin spaces where Sailors are working to improve the human interface with systems in preparation for the next deployment. There is no one more creative and capable than our Navy Blue Jackets.”
With extraordinary hazards present during any maintenance period, safety is at the forefront and will continue to be, paramount during the PMA cycle.
In an effort to maintain the ship’s high safety standards, safety department personnel conduct daily walkthroughs with contractors, weekly zone inspections of all ship spaces, and hold safety meetings to pass down information for divisional safety petty officers to relay to their shipmates.
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Aircraft Handling 1st Class Benjamin Odea, of Lansing, Michigan, one of the ship’s safety petty officers expressed the importance of precaution and being alert to your surroundings while the ship is in an industrial environment.
“During PMA, with many of our systems be upgraded and maintained, there is a lot of equipment being transferred through the ship’s hangar bay, the flight deck, and on the pier. This makes it that much more important for everyone to keep their head on a swivel,” said Odea.
Makin Island will complete the PMA in November of 2015 and will commence its training cycle in early 2016 in preparation for a scheduled deployment in late 2016.