USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- While getting underway from Naval Station Norfolk March 11, 2012, aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) experienced extensive fouling to three of her four main engines and five of the ship's eight service turbine generators.
Fouling occurs when any foreign debris gets built up in the impellers causing increased pressure on the main engines. It can be anything from small sea creatures to large pieces of trash sucked into the ship's systems creating a blockage.
In this case, Bryozoa, a type of tiny fish with hair-like fibers, built up in the impellers over a period of time causing the fouling.
This build up usually happens about once a month, but due to Enterprise being docked since July 2011, and with only short underway periods since, the build-up happened much faster and almost prevented her from moving at all.
Prompt action on the part of the engineering department ensured that propulsion and electrical power were maintained throughout this potentially dangerous casualty.
On March 10, a day before Enterprise was scheduled to begin its 22nd and final deployment, watchstanders in No. 2 Main Machinery Room (2MMR) noted increasing seawater injection pressure on the No. 2 main engine (2M/E), a symptom of fouling.
"We recommended to central control that 2M/E be back-flushed," said Machinist's Mate 1st Class William P. Miller, leading petty officer of 2MMR. "The main propulsion assistant followed our recommendation and also ordered the other three main engines back-flushed as a precaution."
The back-flushing ensured there was less strain on the propulsion plants before Enterprise pulled out to sea.
The ship left 10 minutes earlier than expected March 11, but shortly after getting underway, indication of fouling was observed on three of the ship's service turbine generators (SSTG) and an auxiliary machinery circulation water pump.
"We spent most of the night before and the day of deployment getting the systems flushed out," said Lt. Cmdr. John Kajmowicz, Enterprise's main propulsion assistant. "Due to outstanding performance, we were able to clean out the systems and keep us moving."
Kajmowicz said watchstanders are the main reason why the ship continues to move forward. When there is a problem it is the watchstander who notifies central control of the situation.
Upon noticing the indications of fouling, machinery division began to systematically open and inspect each of the eight SSTG condensers to clear out any remaining fouling. Engineers removed more than two pounds of debris from the system.
On March 12, Capt. William C. Hamilton Jr., commanding officer of Enterprise, ordered an ahead flank bell, 171 rotations per minute, and no signs of fouling were observed on any of the main engines proving that engineering had once again kept Big E moving.
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