NORFOLK --- Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC) completed a Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Planned Maintenance Availability of USS Wasp (LHD 1) in Norfolk June 9.
MARMC was tasked with overseeing repairs and maintenance to Wasp last December, and given a six-month window to complete her avail and return her to service where she will replace USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) in support of the new generation of Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) in the Pacific.
"Completing Wasp's avail in such a timely manner - we owe a lot of our success to the planning during her basic phase," said MARMC Commanding Officer Capt. Daniel Lannamann. "In the areas where we used lessons learned and had a solid plan in place to tackle repairs and maintenance on day one, we saw those jobs performed flawlessly and in a timely fashion."
According to MARMC Executive Director Dennis Bevington, during execution, it was all hands on deck.
"Leadership was 100 percent engaged all the way up the chain to the four-star level," said Bevington. "We were not able to change the availability dates - that was a flag-level decision, which impacted our approach and drove our period of performance. It was a challenge, but our team dedicated itself to the job and came up with solutions under pressure when they were needed. In the end, we delivered within the window that the Navy needed us to in order to get Wasp engaged in her new mission as soon as possible."
Wasp's work package called for major overhauls, and was no small task while moored at BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair, who was the contractor tasked with performing the ship's repairs and maintenance. Work items included repairs to the vent plenum, extensive work to the Number 4 Ship Service Turbine Generator (SSTG), modifications for Joint Strike Fighters (JSF), and replacement of all the non-skid on the flight deck. Repairs to Wasp's flight deck nets were also on the long list of items to tackle during the avail.
"We repaired and powder-coated 65 flight deck frames and manufactured all the associated nets," said MARMC Amphibious Ships Division Manager Rob Jones. "It was a huge undertaking that involved removing the nets and frames, shipping them to the powder coat shop, transferring them back on board and reinstalling and weight testing them in only 21 days."
The removal and repair of feed heaters in the evaporators was another critical work item during this avail period. The ability for the ship to create its own potable water is a necessity when traversing thousands of miles of open ocean.
"Feed heaters assist in the distilling plant for the water that goes to the boiler," said Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic (USS Wasp) Port Engineer Tim Spence. "The purpose of the feed heater is to heat salt water for the distillation process, leaving the ship with potable water and sending the brine back overboard."
With Wasp's new focus on carrying the Navy's new F-35B Lightning II JSF, it was imperative that the ship's flight deck be resurfaced, which proved to be an exceptional undertaking.
"Generally, we would have more time to resurface the flight deck, so we would only use one containment tent, going zone to zone," said MARMC Project Manager Bobby Pridgen. "Due to our condensed schedule, we had two 16,500 square foot containment tents on the flight deck at the same time, which is rare. Typically, to complete an entire flight deck, it takes 134 days. We completed Wasp's entire flight deck in 89 days."
Zone four of the flight deck is designated as the launch and recovery area for the F-35B, and this area was enclosed by a 12,000 square foot tent. Zone four is unique in that it contains Thermion, a coating system designed for landing and takeoff operations of the JSF. Without this heat resistant coating protecting the deck of the ship, when the thrusters of the JSF turned down, they could potentially cause severe damage to the deck.
"The JSF modification makes this availability unusual," said Spence. "Six F-35B JSFs are already on site in Japan, and this vessel will be capable of supporting their operations in the Pacific. Although USS America (LHA 6) is configured for JSF, Wasp is the first Amphibious Assault Ship going overseas."
Another area the Wasp saw success was with upgrades and replacement of insulation in several spaces around the ship. MARMC Production Department removed and installed over 21,000 square feet of insulation covering a large portion of Wasps structure.
"For an availability this size, we were months ahead of where we would normally have been. It shows how innovative the MARMC team is and how well our folks work under pressure. Thinking outside the box allowed our team to proceed on safely and to remain on schedule. It was a tremendous effort and I couldn't be happier with the end result," said Bevington.
Wasp will be forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan this fall as part of the U.S. 7th Fleet Forward Deployed Naval Forces.