USS BATAAN, Mediterranean Sea (NNS) -- Four Sailors aboard multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) completed repairs to the mechanical seal on a main feed pump June 16, keeping the ship on station in the Mediterranean Sea conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.
The mechanical seal catastrophically failed June 12, and Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Shawn O'Connor, Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Ervin Gegprifti, Machinist's Mate Fireman Joe Perry, and Machinist's Mate Fireman (SW) Abi Olowookere, immediately launched repairs necessary to restore the operational capability of the main feed pump, allowing it to continue to supply the ship's boiler, which powers the ship's turbines and ultimately moves the ship through the water.
"If the boiler is not fed water it could result in a meltdown in the boiler," said Master Chief Machinist's Mate (SW/AW) Robert Butler, USS Bataan engineering department leading chief petty officer. "If we lost the ability of a boiler, we would not be able to produce high speed, and in our mission, we always have to be ready to operate with enough speed to launch aircraft on a moment's notice; we need both boilers online to provide that mobility."
Repairing the part is a highly technical endeavor that Butler said is traditionally performed by a depot-level activity; however, Bataan's engineers didn't have the time to wait for repair facility personnel to remove the bad seal and wait for another one.
"By completing the work ourselves, we saved time," said Perry. "If we hired another company to repair it, it would take a few weeks to order the parts that we needed. We saved the ship about $50,000 by putting in the labor ourselves and already having the repair parts on board. We saved the ship from shutting down. To be successful, we just kept going and worked through it."
USS Bataan Commanding Officer Capt. Steve Koehler awarded spot Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals to the four Sailors for their efforts.
Lt. George Kipp, USS Bataan main propulsion assistant (MPA), said when the main feed pump came back online, the system was flawless, and there were no signs of water or oil leaks.
O'Conner said teamwork played a huge role in the success of the restoration of the main feed pump.
"Down there in the main space it is like 90 to 100 degrees, and working on the feed pump, the water to the lines is like 250 degrees," said O'Conner. "So we were taking turns swapping out and cooling ourselves off. There was a lot of teamwork."
The Sailors received more than awards for their work.
"It was an excellent learning opportunity for the junior Sailors to get their hands in and conduct a depot level repair," said Butler.
"It helped with my knowledge," said O'Conner. "It makes me a better person, so I can pass it onto other people. There was a lot of work in a couple of days. I helped take all the lube oil pumps apart. I took care of the shields and took the accessories off. I helped take the shaft apart and reassembled it, then put it back in, did the run outs on it, made sure it was aligned and working good, and the seal was right. Everything worked as it was supposed to."
Engineering department leadership is confident that the repairs will hold until their next scheduled maintenance and replacement date.
"By the inspection that was continuously through the whole process, this repair should with no doubt last the duration of this deployment," said Butler. "By design, we should expect at least a good solid three years of operation out of this pump."
Bataan is the command ship of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG).
For more news from USS Bataan (LHD 5), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd5/.