BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- During the course of USS Abraham Lincoln's (CVN 72) planned incremental availability (PIA) in Bremerton, Wash., the ship has been refitted and refurbished from bow to stern.
Bulkheads have been repainted, decks retiled and machinery replaced.
Recently a team of divers from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 11 Detachment Bangor Sailors and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS) civilian contractors used explosives to blast propeller 3 from its shaft underneath the carrier August 14.
This propeller is one of four five-bladed propellers that power the ship through the water. Each propeller weighs roughly 58,000 pounds and is 21 feet in diameter.
"Prop number three was degraded and had a large accumulation of rust," said J. Jack McGowan, a PSNS explosives safety officer. "We had to remove the propeller with explosives to loosen it from the shaft."
Preparing for blast-off, the planning team held several briefs to ensure the safety of all involved. Base security and PSNS fire department were on standby for emergencies.
Lincoln Sailors set material condition Zebra, a condition providing the ship the highest degree of watertight integrity, from the third deck down, and from frames 200 to 235 as a safety precaution should the explosion not go according to plan. Planners were prepared for a shock wave from the blast.
"We had to stand by all blast zone areas and secure all passageways near the shaft alley of any unnecessary personnel in case a blast accidentally and starts a leak," said Aviation Ordnance 1st Class Charles Rhodes, of Lincoln's Safety Department. "We also put safety signs and tape around the aft side of the flight deck to prevent any Sailors from incurring injuries during this process."
The process for removing the propeller involved a lot more than just applying the explosives and standing back. The divers used a manila line to wrap the shaft to a depth of about three inches. Next, they wrapped a detonating cord containing about 0.2 pounds of explosives outside the manila line. Lastly, the divers installed wood crush blocks between the aft and forward faces of the propeller to contain the explosion.
After the explosion, divers waited 30 minutes before returning to the water to ensure that debris from the blast had settled.
According to McGowan, the blastoff was a success.
"This blastoff was a team effort among Code 106, the base, the project, and the ship," he said. "Everyone was extremely careful and stuck to their jobs. If it wasn't for careful planning and safety, the blastoff wouldn't have been successful; there were no injuries and the ship has its propeller."
For more news from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn72/.