NORFOLK (NNS) -- USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) completed successful sea trials and her Light-Off Assessment, May 15, returning to port at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story where she will undergo final checks before being returned to mission ready status.
Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC) oversaw the on time completion of the ship's Chief of Naval Operations Availability (CNO avail) two weeks prior.
"We had an amazing team overseeing this CNO avail," said MARMC Integrated Test Engineer Rick Brown. "We were able to do the advanced planning on this availability in the best way possible. Our project manager, port engineer, and project support engineer went forward while the ship was on deployment to verify and validate the work that was going to be accomplished during the avail."
Prior to beginning the avail, all work specifications were reviewed by MARMC's project team, ensuring the complete work package was correctly documented. One of the major wins that came from that planning was getting a jump start on the main reduction gear (MRG). The MRG is located on a ship's main engine shaft and rotates the shaft or rotor and associated machinery (such as reduction gears and main turbines) to ensure uniform cool-down of the system. In this instance, one of the MRGs required all bearings be replaced.
"This was an open and inspect situation where we weren't sure of what we were going to get once we were inside; if there would be tin-oxide or not," said MARMC Waterfront Operations Project Manager Troy Hoover. "I was able to work with SURFLANT (Surface Forces Atlantic) ahead of time to order a complete set of replacement bearings, to have them on standby."
Using lessons learned, it was known that typically on a Landing Ship, Dock (LSD) platform, the bearings will have generated tin-oxide corrosion and need to be replaced at this point in the ship's life cycle.
"Sure enough, we had to replace all of the bearings in one of the MRGs. Since we already had the bearings, we didn't run into the issue of waiting for a parts order to be placed and being held up for several days or weeks waiting on the parts to arrive; we could just keep moving with the work that needed to be done," said Brown.
Even as the team was working diligently in the middle of the avail, they made it a priority to keep all parties involved and on the same page. They did this by holding daily meetings, which were attended by MARMC's project team, ship's force, and the contractors tasked with conducting the maintenance and repairs.
"When a ship goes into a yard period, they put their gear into what is called lay-up since they won't be using it like they normally would in the field. Someone has to have the big picture of when these systems have to come back online, to ensure that they work correctly with systems that are being overhauled or maintenance by our team. By having these meetings, we were able to facilitate and manage that process successfully, which is usually very difficult," said Brown.
"Having built trust with the ship was huge," said MARMC Assistant Project Manager Justin Riggs. "Having their buy in that we were going to take care of them until the end of their avail period made everything operate a lot smoother than I have seen avails go in the past."
With MARMC's project team seeing success in pre-planning and on time delivery, moving forward MARMC is looking at continuing the practices that were vital to this recent accomplishment aboard Oak Hill.
"I think that is something MARMC is looking into; having our folks permanently assigned to a ship," said MARMC Project Support Engineer Matthew Guerrieri. "This way, those individuals have the history of the ship, they know the things that have and haven't been worked on, and [know] where you are at on your engine hours. When you keep that accountability within one team, it is a smart way of conducting an availability and ensuring that it will meet its timeline."
MARMC serves as a field activity under Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), who has recently made on-time delivery of ships their number one priority and strategic initiative.
The priority states, "Our combatant commanders rely on us to provide the naval assets they need, when they are needed. Our ability to deliver ships out of public and private yard maintenance availabilities on time, without cutting corners and with the requisite quality is critical to meet this demand."
MARMC has stepped up to that challenge and is working hard to meet all of the mission priorities set out by NAVSEA, including focusing on affordability and cybersecurity.
Among the other notable accomplishments to Oak Hill during her avail were a complete overhaul of the Number 4 Service Turbine Generator, CANES and combat systems upgrades, and nearly every component of the ship's diesel engines had maintenance performed.
MARMC is currently working over a dozen CNO and Continuous Maintenance Availabilities across multiple ship platforms.
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