Comstock Departs the Yards on Schedule
A team effort that led to completion
Amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45) gently rocked off the coast of Southern California as the ship's crew crowded onto the mess decks.
Comstock had every reason to be celebrating - from the looks of her, most would not guess she was celebrating her 26th year in the fleet and that she is the oldest amphibious ship on the West Coast, a title previously held by the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) before she decommissioned in March 2015.
Comstock and her crew had just completed a long and arduous yard period, and as a result of the right attitude, communication and a maintained sense of ownership, Comstock emerged from the yards looking better than when she went in.
Before Comstock shifted from Naval Base San Diego for its nine-month stay beneath the Coronado Bay Bridge at Continental Maritime San Diego shipyard, the ship's commanding officer, Cmdr. Gervy Alota, clearly outlined the ship's goals. Number one on that list: Production Completion Date (PCD) on time. Alota designated a clear goal for the ship to work toward. The captain's goals became goals of the crew members and the contractors alike. The goals were posted throughout the ship as a reminder of where Comstock's long-term focus should be.
Standard practice when a ship enters the yards is to hand it off to the contractors who physically complete the work the ship requires. Although Comstock might have turned over many physical spaces to outside entities, in spirit, the ship's crew maintained ownership over the deck plates. Before the crew handed over the ship's spaces to any outside entity, the crew chose to maintain a questioning attitude and thoroughly walk their spaces for documentation purposes. The comstock crew continued to inspect these spaces daily throughout the maintenance period. Knowledge of the ship and all its spaces did not stop at a divisional level; work continued on weekends and holidays, leaving duty sections to oversee maintenance shipwide. Command duty officers were held accountable for all jobs scheduled for Saturdays and Sundays, even if they did not fall under their departmental jurisdiction.
Lt. Cmdr. Laura Santiago, comstock's chief engineer, expressed how impressed she was with the crew's ability to work together throughout the maintenance phase and even work out of their comfort zones to ensure mission success.
"[At the beginning of the yard period, for example,] the ship's First Lieutenant, Lt. Alan Cabiling, did not know anything about the engineering yard package, but he became knowledgeable because he had to track down updates ... for the commanding officer on a weekend," said Santiago. "As an engineer, I had to track foc'sle [and topside] work, and the deck in the combat information center. [This experience] made us all a part of the project and ... take ownership."