USS KEARSARGE, At Sea (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) passed a flag-level assessment of their Radiological Affairs Support Program (RASP) Aug. 25 prior to getting underway for a deployment to deliver aid to flood victims in Pakistan.
RASP allows specialized technicians the ability to use high-powered X-rays to examine aircraft parts for structural damage that could endanger the aircraft and its aircrew.
According to Chief Warrant Officer Mario Ambrosio, Kearsarge's assistant material officer, the ship's entire RASP had to be rebuilt.
"Kearsarge hasn't had a viable Radiological Program since the end of the 2007-2008 deployment," said Ambrosio. "It took an enormous amount of effort to rebuild this program from the ground up."
Ambrosio said that while actually operating the X-Ray equipment is fairly straight forward, the management of the program's safety requirements is intensive.
"We take RASP very seriously. The radiation emitted is very powerful and can cause serious, long term tissue damage if stringent safety precautions are not followed," said Ambrosio. "The fact that we were able to pass our certification inspection with no deficiencies is a testament to one Sailor in particular, Aviation Structural Mechanic 2nd Class Glenn Brown."
Ambrosio said Brown led the team that rehabilitated the ship's X-Ray vault and wrote the standard operating procedures and safety guidelines specific for Kearsarge. Brown also established guidelines for "Open Shots," or the ability to shoot X-Rays outside of the lead-line X-Ray vault.
"The vault was being used as a storage locker," said Brown. "We had to rewire the entire vault, get it certified and then have it inspected."
Brown said this is the first time Kearsarge has had open facility capabilities since the ship's commissioning.
"Having the ability to X-Ray parts of an aircraft without taking it apart saves time and decreases the possibility of further damage while performing maintenance," said Brown. "One of the critical aspects of developing this program is training. We had to train almost 100 Sailors from different departments to make this a viable program."
Every aspect of the program was inspected prior to deployment and certification.
"The inspectors watched us set up and conduct a shoot in the vault and then set up, but not shoot, an open-air X-Ray," said Brown. "They interviewed all of the people we trained and inspected all of our paper work, which made for a very intensive inspection."
Since reporting to the department in May 2010, Lt. Cmdr. "Tino" Scott, the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD) officer, has told his department they will live by the motto "SPOT," which means his department will work safely, professionally and on time.
"We strive for excellence in everything that we do," said Scott. "Aviation Structural Mechanic 2nd Class Glenn Brown exemplifies those attributes, excelling in a position normally assigned to someone more senior in pay grade and experience. Nobody does it better than Kearsage AIMD, and that's why we have the best Radiological Affairs Safety Program in the fleet."
The inspectors were so impressed with the program Brown developed that they asked for copies to disseminate to other ships. As of today, seven other ships are using his program.
For more news from USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd3/.