Surface Warfare Magazine
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Under The Sea
CSG 12 Commander Visits USS Forrest Sherman as Divers Use New Cofferdam for Underwater Hub Change Out

Photo By: Shelby F.W. West

Carrier Strike Group 12’s commander visited Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyer USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98) during an underwater hub change out at Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC), Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, Nov. 5.

Rear Adm. Andrew L. Lewis observed divers who were using a new cofferdam to perform the change out.

MARMC Dive Teams Delta and Bravo began working around the clock mid-October to replace Forrest Sherman’s existing propeller blades and hub, in order to keep Forrest Sherman mission ready for 2015.

“Having this ship fixed without any hindrance or restrictions, as soon as possible, within the repair plan and having the ship underway, being able to fight is what it’s all about,” said Lewis.

“Normally, this job would be done in dry-dock, but with the invention of this new type of cofferdam, it allows us to do this job underwater,” said MARMC Diving Officer Chief Warrant Officer 3 Tim Andros.

The cofferdam provides a dry environment in which divers can work, and protects all equipment so there is no water intrusion when divers remove the hub of the ship.

“This is only the second time this job has been done underwater in the Navy, and is the first time this job has been done underwater on an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer,” said Andros.


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MARMC divers completed the first underwater hub replacement to Oliver Hazard Perry-class guidedmissile frigate USS Taylor (FFG 50) in Souda Bay, Greece, earlier this year, giving them experience for this job on Forrest Sherman. Although the two jobs are similar, the configuration on the bottom of each ship is slightly different; a frigate has one screw where a destroyer has two, affecting how the cofferdam fits underneath the ships.

“This same group of individuals handled the Taylor hub replacement, which has given us a lot of experience towards a ship that isn’t damaged this time,” said Navy Diver 2nd Class Petty Officer Nicholas Barna. “The smaller aspects of such a large job are some of the things that are overlooked sometimes, and having the integral knowledge and the familiarization of the mechanics of the underwater proceedings helps a lot when it comes down to doing a job in less visibility than we had last time. This job is running a lot smoother than the Taylor because we have done it before.”

There are three dive lockers that fall under the leadership of Commander, Navy Regional Maintenance Center; MARMC, Southwest Regional Maintenance Center (SWRMC) and Southeast Regional Maintenance Center (SERMC). In order to gain experience to perform this job on destroyers home ported in Mayport, Florida, SERMC has sent a few of their divers to Norfolk to help with the Forrest Sherman job.

Photo By: MCSN Anthony N. Hilkowski“It is really fun to work with people from other commands and spread our knowledge,” said Barna. “Although we have done this before, it’s really nice to give that same hands-on attitude and atmosphere to other people within our community. We want as many people within the dive community as possible to fully understand the circumference of this whole procedure. It’s great to have guys here from SERMC and SWRMC. It helps to lighten our work load while giving them a lot of beneficial knowledge.”

MARMC’s dive teams are made up of military and civilians. Each team is currently working a 12-hour shift, 24 hours a day. If one team primarily consists of civilians, a few military divers will be added to the team for that shift in order to get the experience and learn from the civilians.

Changing out the hub on Forrest Sherman is a joint effort by MARMC divers, Waterfront Operations, welders, machinists, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA00C), and Naval Station Norfolk Port Operations.

“The divers are the underwater work force working with the NAVSEA technical experts who are overseeing all components of the work package, and they are working with Ship’s Force who is working internal equipment to help facilitate the positioning of the new hub and blades,” said Forrest Sherman Chief Engineer Lt. PJ Remillard. “All three entities are working together during this entire evolution to keep everything on track and safe. We’ve had nothing but great results from the MARMC divers and experts. Everyone has been phenomenal, communicating and making sure everything stays on schedule.”

The hub replacement is expected to be complete later this month.

“It’s exciting for the whole maintenance community to do this because they are building a skill set that we haven’t had in the past, and we have all the right people doing hard work to get it done,” said Lewis. Surface Warfare Magazine

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