SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The crew of USS Makin Island (LHD 8) completed the Chief of Naval Operations' phased maintenance availability (PMA).
"The innovation, creativity, and resourcefulness of this crew propelled Makin Island through this PMA," said Commanding Officer Capt. Jon P. Rodgers, a native of Humboldt, Tennessee. "The Sailors took ownership of their spaces, teamed up with industry, did the hard jobs, and sought the 'how we can' solutions.
"I am most proud of the hard work of this crew. The shear pride and sweat by every Sailor and Marine ensured Makin Island's timely completion. The ship is on track, which is an exceptional accomplishment for any ship completing a PMA period," said Rodgers.
The crew completed preservation, refurbishment and replacement jobs that accumulated a noteworthy savings of nearly $5 million during this PMA. These jobs included, refurbishment of aviation support equipment, compartment preservation, decking, and upgrades to the ship's pilot house.
"The pilot house was transformed into a streamlined, spacious, and ergonomic control center, and it was all done by ship's force," said Makin Island's PMA coordinator, Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Woolley, a native of Denver. "Every department contributed in turning the Bridge into a true operational and reliable control center."
Sailors in the executive department refurbished the ship's administration office. Yeoman 1st Class Lequisha M. Shines, from Compton, California, expressed how improvements to the admin space will benefit the division enabling the staff to meet administrative needs.
"We renovated the entire admin office to include everything from the deck to the overheads and our personnel stepped it-up for the majority of the work," said Shines. "We created a filing vault to house the Sailors' service records and had desks custom made to maximize the space. Sailors in the executive department take care of Makin Island Sailor's legal issues, pay issues, awards, evaluations, and media needs," said Shines. "Our new office provides convenience and room for us to do our job adequately and efficiently."
The ship established a decking team from all ratings who were trained and tasked with refurbishing decks worn from the last 6 years of service.
"We were tasked with re-doing many of the workspace decks throughout the ship," said Aviation Maintenance Administrationman Airman Dylan Stille, from Abilene, Texas.
"We sanded, taped, laid down, new material and clear coated, on average, four spaces a day," said Stille. "Not only is it safer, but it also gives Sailors a morale boost when they walk in to
their spaces and see a fresh, clean working environment."
"Laying down new deck coating is not these Sailors' normal job," said Chief Aviation Electrician's Mate John R. Wade, from Greenwood, Indiana, the deck preservation team coordinator. "In fact, only one person on the team had prior experience with the work; but this team was able to do quality work that the entire ship sees and appreciates.
"One of the satisfying benefits to the command and the Navy as a whole was that these sixteen Sailors, all from different rates, came together as a team, learned a new skill and were able to accomplish a task that saved the ship nearly three quarters of a million dollars," said Wade.
Though a vast amount of work was delegated into teams, one Sailor took the initiative and created something that has helped him and his shipmates during PMA.
"We were painting Aqueous Film Forming Foam stations and I thought that it would be a lot easier if we had a paint booth," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Manuel Basulto, from Vista, California. "So I built one. We used leftover materials that weren't going to be used for anything else during PMA and built the booth on the flight deck.
"It only took a couple of hours to build and it worked out great," said Basulto. "Not only has it increased our productivity and helped us to stay on schedule, but it also gives a much nicer finished product."
Contractors were, in tandem, tasked with completing certain jobs onboard and Woolley expressed how the crew's contributions fostered a productive working environment from start to finish keeping Makin Island on schedule for the ship's upcoming training cycle.
"The Ship did not slow down or delay production at any time, and in fact, has facilitated production beyond contractors' expectations," stated Woolley. "Out of the gate, our Sailors got on top of the mountain of work authorization forms and electrical safety tag-outs, ensuring all systems were ready for work to start on time."
Woolley explained how the dedication of the crew was vital to the overall work flow.
"PMAs are difficult," said Woolley, "but every one of Makin Island's Sailors showed up every day ready to support, ready to maintain their spaces, and ready to hold the maintenance team to the Makin Island standard."
With the vast amount of work happening simultaneously throughout the ship, Aviation Boatswain's Mate Aircraft Handling 1st Class Benjamin Odea, one of Makin Island's safety petty officers, from Lansing, Michigan, said safety was paramount to the successful completion of Makin Island's PMA. He expressed how each Sailor doing their part bolstered the working environment on the ship and helped keep everyone safe.
"This PMA was very well controlled from a safety aspect," said Odea. "In comparison to the 2013 PMA, we saw a 63 percent decrease in PMA-related safety incidents and that is a testament to the Sailors taking in the information and doing the right thing."
As Makin Island progresses through the Afloat Training Group (ATG) inspections and into the ship's underway training cycle, Odea said safety will continue to be paramount aboard Makin Island.
"It is important to remember the ship is an industrial working environment and our job is to always be vigilant in looking out for ourselves and our shipmates," said Odea. "Safety is not just about hard hats and goggles, it is a culture. Safety is our job."
After six months of PMA, the ship was underway for sea trials. Sailors of all ranks expressed their pride in Makin Island's completion of PMA.
"From the beginning, it was a lot to take on, however, being surrounded by a great team of Sailors, got me excited for the challenges during the maintenance period," said Hull Maintenance Technician 3rd Class Quintavious R. Nelson from Macon, Georgia, who was responsible for ordering engineering department's supplies during PMA.
Nelson said he gained a lot of experience over the last several months. "This PMA was the first time I have ever been part of something like this and it has taught me a lot about my rate and being a Sailor," explained Nelson. "It's amazing seeing it all come together underway."
The ship finished the PMA and put all the hard work to the test during contractor sea trials.
"After an intense PMA involving substantial work to propulsion, power and steering equipment during PMA, it was a proud moment to take in all lines and put to sea. The crew showed the same tenacity and hard work demonstrated over the past seven months during a successful sea trials -- a mere 10 months after returning from deployment. The ship's crew along with the patriotic and talented San Diego ship repair talent performed exceptionally well. If the nation needs us, we are in the operationally readiness column," said Rodgers.
Makin Island is scheduled to commence the basic training cycle immediately following the holiday break in preparation for a scheduled deployment in late 2016.
For more news from USS Makin Island (LHD 8), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd8/.