SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Crew members of USS Peleliu (LHA 5) donned their hard hats and safety goggles as the ship officially began her dock planned maintenance availability (DPMA) March 4 and entered dry dock March 24 at NASSCO shipyards.
Cmdr. Michael Sweeney, Peleliu's operations officer, said the 29-year-old ship has finally received some attention, a $52-million makeover.
"It's been a long time since this ship has been in dry dock," Sweeney said. "The purpose of the visit to NASSCO shipyard is to make modifications and preservations. The three main evolutions that will take place are the MV-22 modification, our local area network upgrade and hull preservation. These modifications are designed to keep Peleliu operational for years to come."
The availability is intended to extend the life of the ship and enhance her combat capabilities through several planned modifications to the existing hull.
NASSCO will modernize the flight deck and ship's supporting systems to complement the new V-22 Osprey aircraft. The V-22 was developed to perform Navy, Marine Corps and Special Operations Command combat missions and will improve Peleliu's combat capabilities.
Another upgrade is the replacement of one of the ship's boat davits with a seven-meter rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB). The RHIB is a high-speed, high-buoyancy, extreme-weather craft that can operate in heavy seas and winds of 45 knots.
"Having the RHIB gives our ship more maneuverability and speed during small boat operations," said Lt. Warren Freeman Jr., the ship's maintenance material officer.
Lt. Cmdr. Brent Ingle, aircraft intermediate maintenance department officer, said the second major modification, the local area network (LAN), is part of the habitability overhaul.
"The ship's force will be conducting much of the habitability maintenance that includes resurfacing decks, maintenance on non-water tight doors, replacing lagging and a big concentration on berthing and new galley equipment," said Ingle. "We are also getting Fiber Optical GIG-E LAN to improve the quality of life for our own Sailors and embarked Marines."
Several preservation projects are planned to strengthen the ship's hull and various internal spaces.
"The tanks are going to be opened, inspected and cleaned," said Freeman. "This applies to all ballast, fuel and sea-water compensation tanks. We are also overhauling the ship's steam turbine generators. This will give us better efficiency for the ship's electrical distribution," he said. "Lastly, we are going to execute external corrosion control to extend the life of the ship. We are going to repair the hull, remove any rust and repaint it."
With the ship scheduled to head into dry dock to complete all of her modifications in only four months, Peleliu is full of activity.
Ingle said contractors would outnumber Sailors on most occasions.
"When we are in the yards, there will be thousands of contractors on the ship at any given time," said Ingle. "Everyday, the ship is going to have a synchronization meeting between ship's force and the shipyard to keep everything under control and running smoothly."
Peleliu is covered with scaffolding and hoses, vents and cables run through doorways and down passageways rendering the ship uninhabitable. The ship moved her 1,100 Sailors to a temporary barge that sits adjacent to Peleliu and provides office and living space.
Sweeney said by the time the "Iron Nickel" finishes her DPMA in August, she will be ready to rejoin the fleet as a stronger, more capable platform in support of the chief of naval operations' maritime strategy.
For more news form USS Peleliu, visit www.navy.mil/local/lha5.