USS Russell
"Strength in Freedom"
USS Russell Overcomes Obstacles in Light Off Assessment Preparation
Damage Controlman 1st Class Travis Huff (right) coaches a repair party on the proper use of the Naval Firefighting Thermal Imager (NFTI) on board USS Russell (DDG 59).  (U.S. Navy photo)
USS Russell Overcomes Obstacles in Light Off Assessment Preparation
By Lt. j.g. Mike Chahinian, USS Russell Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO – The officers and crew of the guided missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59) have been overcoming a unique set of challenges as they prepare for an upcoming engineering plant light off assessment (LOA) later this summer.

The ship is approaching the end of a year-long, $75 million Extended Dry Dock Selective Restrictive Availability (EDSRA) at the BAE Shipyard in San Diego and most of the present crew are either new to the Navy or were previously aboard USS Halsey (DDG 97) and have never been underway with the Russell.

Per the Surface Force Readiness Manual, the LOA is a key part of getting the ship seaworthy again. It supports the principle of “Remain ready to meet current challenges” in the Sailing Directions framework released by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert.

One of the most important components of the assessment is demonstration of a main space fire drill. Such a drill is practically an all-hands evolution, and the crew faces a unique challenge because most of them have never done such a drill aboard Russell.

Russell’s engineering department has arranged an aggressive training schedule to get the ship ready for the assessment, currently scheduled for mid-August. The department is conducting training every Monday-Thursday afternoon, with drills every Tuesday and Thursday. Classroom training is conducted every Monday, and personnel qualification standards are completed on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Now that most of the major industrial work is complete, the department is also able to devote significant blocks of time to correcting material discrepancies. Such corrections would be a key component of any availability, but are especially critical given that Russell was commissioned nearly 20 years ago.

“The Sailors are putting an incredible amount of work into our engineering plant to make sure it’s fully operational in time for LOA,” said Cmdr. James Harney, Russell’s commanding officer. “Their devotion to the ship has been truly inspirational.”

The results of the focus on material readiness have been dramatic.

“We have fixed 300 major discrepancies in the past six weeks,” said Senior Gas Turbine Systems Chief Petty Officer Gerry Amog. “It’s a lot of hard work, and just needs a steady strain.”

The EDSRA is part of the Naval Sea Systems Surface Warfare (SEA-21) Comprehensive Modernization Program. Russell received new computer systems in her Central Control Station as well as a closed-circuit television system in all engineering spaces as part of the upgrades. The engineering modernization has the potential to reduce the number of required watchstanders by up to one- third. The crew will begin three weeks of intensive testing and training on the new systems in early July.

Russell is assigned as part of Destroyer Squadron 1.
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