By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alec J. Noe, USS Makin Island Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO - USS Makin Island (LHD 8) returned to port July 1 following two days underway for sea Trials and continued preparations for final contract trials, ending the ship's four-month Post-Shakedown Availability (PSA).
PSA is a repair phase newly commissioned ships go through usually about a year after delivery to work out any maintenance discrepancies and to update equipment.
Makin Island entered PSA to correct any deficiencies left over from its initial builder's trials in Pascagoula, Miss., in the beginning of 2009.
The ship underwent various types of large-scale maintenance, including a drydock period, according to Chief Hull Maintenance Technician (SW) Joe Lincoln, maintenance control team division officer.
"A new ship usually goes into dry dock before it's delivered to the Navy, but because our delays added up in Pascagoula we decided to postpone that until our availability here," said Lincoln. "One of the lessons learned from other ships involved piping systems. The end result was 100 percent re-inspection of all our critical piping systems. There were approximately 3,000 welding and repair jobs completed."
Fire Controlman 1st Class (SW) Matthew Lynn,
maintenance, materials management coordinator (3MC) assistant, added that, because Makin Island is the first of its kind, there were some unique challenges presented to the crew.
"This is a new ship. We've been finding things wrong that haven't been dealt with before because no other ship has this design," he said "As a result we've had to do a lot of research, a lot of learning and a lot of communicating [with specialists] off the ship."
Throughout PSA, Makin Island Sailors not only assisted and supervised the maintenance occurring on board, they also continued their normal daily mission and training.
"What a lot of people forget is the day-to-day business continues to go on seamlessly behind the scenes," said Lincoln. "You had people getting married, going to college, doing community service. We had an outstanding number of advancements and promotions throughout this period. There are all the day-to-day operations that had to happen throughout this availability, and Makin Island Sailors really shined and accomplished all that, too."
As PSA drew to a close the ship went through a successful light-off assessment to prove its underway capabilities. Then, all that remained was to see if the numerous repairs and modifications were successful by putting them to the test at sea.
"Now, the end of the availability marks 'Okay, work's done,' it's been tested pier side, now we're out to sea and to work out any bugs and kinks," said Lincoln.
"After four months pierside for PSA, it was a true pleasure to take the ship back into open water and bust the rust off our at-sea capabilities," said Commanding Officer Capt. Bob Kopas.
Makin Island's next milestone is final contract trials (FCT), scheduled for mid-August. Upon successful completion of FCT, the Navy's newest amphibious assault ship will officially take her place as a deployable ship of the Pacific Fleet and continue the basic training phase and deployment preparations.
For more news from USS Makin Island (LHD 8), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd8/.