BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) was carefully placed in dry dock at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Jan. 19 in Bremerton, Wash., for a routine Docking Planned Incremental Availability (DPIA).
Once the ship was moved into dry dock, it was dewatered, at which time trapped salmon were safely removed from the flooded well deck and returned to the bay.
"Salmon are protected in several ways," said Capt. David Buss, commanding officer. "While the dock was flooded, there was an air system located at the sill of the dry dock that continuously blew bubbles into the water to discourage salmon from entering the dry dock. Those salmon that did enter the dock were safely removed and returned to Sinclair Inlet once we pumped the dry dock down to a very low water level."
Buss said Stennis entered dry dock mainly to preserve the material condition of the ship.
"The ship went into dry dock because Stennis has not been out of the water since she was commissioned back in 1995," he said. "Nimitz-class aircraft carriers have a set maintenance plan which must be adhered to in order to make these ships last the 50 years they're designed for. Part of that maintenance plan includes periodic dry docking to perform work below the waterline, which isn't possible while the ship is in water."
Cmdr. Jonathan Baker, chief engineer, said this will be a very intense and busy maintenance period.
"During this dry docking period, the ship will get a complete hull repainting, both below the waterline and above," said Baker. "In addition, the condition of the hull will be assessed, and any necessary repairs will be made. Other things that will be accomplished while the ship is out of water include refurbishment of the shafting, rudders, screws, and all seawater hull valves and sea chests."
Stennis' commanding officer explained other major evolutions that will take place while the ship is in dry dock include preservation work on the anchors and anchor chains. In addition, work will begin on a new mast installation and combat systems upgrades, as well as installation of a new Integrated Bridge System in the pilothouse that will save manpower and provide state-of-the-art displays.
"It's important for the crew to understand that we will tackle the many challenges we will face during this maintenance period with the same great spirit and hard work ethic that made us so successful this past year," Buss said. "Before we know it, we'll be complete with this availability and back to sea again as an operational ship. I would strongly encourage shipmates to use this 'break in the action' ashore to work on things like off-duty education, etc."
Stennis is scheduled to remain in dry dock until early September. Although the entire DPIA is scheduled for 10 and a half months, the ship will only remain in dry dock for seven and a half months. Buss said after coming out of dry dock, all the new equipment will be tested, and the crew will be trained in preparation for sea trials scheduled for mid-December.
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