BREMERTON (NNS) -- Employees at the Northwest Optical Regional Repair Center at Bangor look more like your eye doctor than these skilled "jack-of-all-trades" professionals that are the optical experts for the region.
To understand the scope of their critical role in the area, you need to know that first, and foremost, their primary mission is the maintenance of submarine periscopes.
This work is highly technical and the need for precision is an understatement. Once a simple design lovingly called the "gray lady," these "eyes" to the surface world for our silent service have evolved into very hi-tech gear.
Periscopes have been on submarines since the 1880s, though initially they offered a very poor view of the surface. They were a simple cylindrical housing with some mirrors at each end, so considered next to useless. Fast forward to 2013, after countless modifications including video and still camera technology, image enhancement software and even a design that does not require physical penetration of the ship's hull...and you get an impression of why the men and women in this shop look the part of doctors in a sterile operating room.
The primary mission of the shop is to provide Intermediate and Selective Depot level maintenance for submarine periscopes installed in ships assigned to the Pacific Northwest and Submarine Squadron 11 based out of San Diego. The shop is capable of supporting three mast repairs and overhauls simultaneously and is only restrained in production capacity due to the infrastructure limitation of having three rails for the periscopes.
However, they also repair, refurbish and overhaul optical and navigational equipment such as ships binoculars, sextants, stadimeters, bearing and azimuth circles for surface ships based out of Bremerton and Everett.
"These employees are really a jack of all trades," said Wayne Foust, Shop 35A Supervisor. "They are qualified to do electronics troubleshooting and repair, as well as basic machining, prepping and painting, and we do all of our own rigging. We are the only shop at PSNS and IMF that can conduct Cat III Crane complex lifts without the oversight of Code 740 lifting and handling."
This one-stop shop is impressive to say the least but, more importantly, they are one of the many teams whose focus on serving our Navy warfighters is crystal clear.
For more news from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, visit www.navy.mil/local/PSNS/.