SASEBO, Japan – Aboard the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) an engineer can often be spotted by their blackened hands and grease and paint-splotched coveralls. These are the tell-tale signs of those hard working Sailors.
As Bonhomme Richard prepares to get underway, engineering department Sailors are working long hours, deep in the bowels of the ship, ensuring the plants, generators and evaporators are ready when it is time to deploy.
“What we do down here for the ship is essential,” said Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Jordan Youngbluth, who is from McDonough, Georgia, and is the aft main engine room boiler console operator for the ship. “We give the ship life, we give the ship power.”
All that power giving equipment requires regular maintenance to keep the ship operational and mission ready.
“The most important step now is performing operational tests on our equipment to verify everything is in working order, fixing last minute issues and performing maintenance to make sure we are ready to get underway,” said Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Matthew Rogers, a Chicago native. “We will be lighting off the boiler this week; and if that goes well then we will be ready to light off when it’s time to get underway.”
Lighting off the boiler is an essential step to getting Bonhomme Richard out to sea. The steam the boiler generates not only helps propel the ship through the water, but also generates the electricity needed to perform nearly every mission aboard Bonhomme Richard.
“Any time we work on something, like the boiler, we want to test it,” said Chief Warrant Officer Jason Vannoy, an Aztec, New Mexico, native, and is Bonhomme Richard’s boilers officer. “We do it far in advance so if there is an issue we have time to fix it.”
The hard work of the Sailors of engineering does more than just move the ship through the water; the steam the boilers provide also supply underway essentials like potable water and heated showers.
“There’s a lot of work involved,” said Vannoy. “Getting the ship underway, it’s our reward. Seeing that is when the work pays off.”