Repairs were performed on main ballast tank vent valves essential to conducting operations for the Virginia-class submarine.
While New Hampshire was pierside at NNSY’s Fleet Maintenance Submarines (FMB) at Norfolk Naval Station, MARMC divers were able to determine the problem. Next came the challenge of determining an achievable solution. In developing a plan to perform waterborne repair, NNSY partnered with PNSY, where another Virginia-class submarine, USS Texas (SSN 775), is in dry dock currently undergoing overhaul. Divers traveled to the Maine shipyard to use Texas to develop a mockup of the staging needed in New Hampshire.
“It really started with great relationships in the submarine community and leveraging those relationships to be innovative and think out of the box,” said NNSY Submarine Program Manager Pat Ensley. “As soon as we were socializing this emergent waterborne repair, I immediately reached out to the submarine program manager at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and called [USS Texas] Project Superintendent Kevin Belisle directly asking for his support and help on this initiative. Having a great relationship with Kevin, he leaned in immediately providing me the necessary photographs in the main ballast tank within 24 hours, points of contact from his team, history of work performed previously on USS New Hampshire, and most importantly the ability for our MARMC dive team to ship check and mock-up the staging to attempt this repair.”
“In order to access the vent valves, which is located at the top of the ballast tank, we would have to construct scaffolding,” said MARMC Chief Navy Diver John Putnam. “We were able use USS Texas as a platform to stage construction before beginning repairs aboard New Hampshire.”
Further assisting the weeks-long repairs performed back at the naval station was a live camera feed enabling technical experts to communicate and provide direction in real time with the divers. Repairs required designing, developing and manufacturing specialized tools to keep the valves shut during the evolution.
The efforts on New Hampshire exemplify NAVSEA’s Core Principles in action, using Technical Competence across multiple NAVSEA sites to solve the problem, demonstrating Agility by valuing innovation and operating with urgency, exemplifying Affordability in saving millions of dollars, all to deliver Reliability in providing a critical asset back to the Fleet.
“Knowledge sharing is paramount for the Navy’s four public shipyards,” said Ensley. “Creative and analytical minds working together to solve emergent problems throughout the enterprise drives success. We need to continue to think under all circumstances to increase blue days underway and keep our submariners out on patrol.”
“Overall, amazing efforts by everyone involved returning 60-plus blue days back to USS New Hampshire to support operational commitments!” said Shipyard Commander Captain Dianna Wolfson. “This was a tremendous display of teamwork and creative thinking to solve this significant problem, and a shining demonstration of our commitment to deliver technical excellence and skilled craftsmanship to maintain and modernize our Navy’s Fleet—supporting all members who serve.”
(Brayshaw is NNSY’s Deputy Public Affairs Officer. Dickson is a MARMC Public Affairs Specialist. Maher is a PNS Public Affairs Specialist.)
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