USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At sea (NNS) -- USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) left its homeport of Everett, Wash., Feb. 23 in preparation for a material assessment conducted by the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV). Lincoln began the multiple-day evaluation in San Diego, Feb. 28.
INSURV is a major inspection mandated by Congress to assess a ship's material condition, its ability to operate its weapons, radar, engineering and navigation systems, maintain its berthing spaces, and function safely. More than 150 inspectors will examine how well the crew performs preventative maintenance and appraise the ship's overall space cleanliness and preservation.
INSURV was established in 1868 and reports to Congress and American taxpayers that the ships of the U.S. Navy are well-maintained and capable of fighting wars and performing their duties while deployed.
"It's independent and unbiased. It's conducted to inspect the material condition of all Navy ships," said Lt. j.g. Zach Decker, the operations information division officer who has been part of the INSURV team since checking on board.
INSURV grading criteria is either "fit for sustained combat operations" or "not fit for sustained combat operations." Once the inspection is complete, INSURV will report directly to the Secretary of the Navy and Congress if the ship is fit in terms of being able to conduct operations.
In order to prepare for the inspection Master Chief Machinist's Mate Michael Gwinn, Maintenance, Material Management (3M) chief, said the first step was to form a team of personnel from around the ship that were knowledgeable on the ship's material condition. This team's sole purpose was to focus on INSURV until the inspection.
That team was known as The Elite Zone Inspection Team, made up of the most talented and experienced senior chiefs, master chiefs, chief warrant officers and limited duty officers using the same concept as the Elite Spot Check Training Team, which upholds maintenance standards on the ship. The goal was to train the crew in its ability to critically self-assess, explained Gwinn.
Lincoln has been preparing for INSURV for more than a year, seeking out best practices from around the fleet.
"We also visited the Truman during their INSURV," said Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Pierce, assistant INSURV coordinator. "Observing their inspection helped us learn what the inspectors' standards were, and what they were looking for."
Schedule of Events (SOE) practices helped the ship refine the INSURV timeline, and were critical for completing hundreds of system checks and two sea and anchor details in 28 hours of underway time, while also providing practice for the demonstration teams.
The ship opened a "store" full of maintenance and material items that are routinely replaced, and established a plan of action for each individual inspection, said Cmdr. Cedric Wilcox, the ship's combat direction center officer, and the INSURV coordinator.
"We have a pre-expended bin for high usage consumables. We also established a watch-bill triad which consists of the demonstrator, the khaki supervisor and the repair folks, all of which will be standing by during the inspections," said Wilcox. "We've also concentrated on overall ship cleanliness, especially in the bathrooms, berthings and outlying areas that typically get overlooked."
The team also ran through frequent INSURV evolutions, which Gwinn explained were basically a rehearsal. By practicing in real-time, the team was able to spot discrepancies in certain procedures early and correct them.
"When a Sailor is given the tool of knowledge, they are essentially equipped to execute the play," said Gwinn. "Once Sailors are educated on the proper procedures, I feel 99 percent of them will either meet or exceed that expectation."
Upon completion of INSURV the Lincoln continues its training cycle to prepare for a 2010 deployment in support of the nation's maritime strategy.
For more news from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn72/.