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Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC) hosted a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) tank inspection demonstration aboard USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) Feb. 16 to assess how the technology could be used to improve maintenance availability efficiency.
A team from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF) led the demonstration, inspecting a 9,000 square-feet ballast tank aboard the amphibious assault ship with a VideoRay Pro 4 ROV. PSNS & IMF have been using the ROV for some nuclear tanks and voids inspections for a couple of years. With that success, the Navy is looking at the possibility of broadening its use at regional maintenance centers and other maintenance facilities.
Nearly 20 leaders in maintenance and innovation from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Southeast Regional Maintenance Center, Southwest Regional Maintenance Center, warfare centers, and other ship maintenance facilities watched as the ROV navigated through the tank water recording and capturing images of the tank’s structural integrity.
“We were able to get a pretty clear and accurate view of inside of the tank,” said Ty Curtin, MARMC Tanks, Voids and Structural Branch Head. “We could see a lot of items in this tank that were documented previously by our assessors. When the ship enters its availability this summer, we can go in and compare what we saw today.”
Tank inspections and overhauls are routinely conducted during maintenance availabilities. The process of emptying a tank; drying it out; conducting a gas-free assessment requires a lot of time, money and man-hours.
“There’s an entire process we have to go through before we could get someone into a tank to conduct an inspection that most times takes only a couple of hours to complete,” said Kevin Baum, MARMC Ventilation and Damage Control Branch Head (Code 243). “On the DDGs and CGs, where stability is critical, having the ability to conduct an accurate and descriptive inspection or check on a specific issue without having to go through that preliminary process could be a game changer for us.”
Embracing innovative ways to improve on-time delivery while increasing cost-saving efforts is a major focus in the Navy’s ship repair construct, and is vital to sustaining the fleet’s mission-readiness.
Kirk Jenne, Chief of Innovation, Surface Ship Maintenance Modernization and Sustainment (SEA 21) and Commander, Navy Regional Maintenance Center (CNRMC) points out that what was learned can be used to leverage what is needed for tomorrow. “We learned a lot from all the participants in this collaboration with Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and MARMC. We intend to leverage our new knowledge with investments by DoD and the Office of Naval Research to extend current technologies to a new level of autonomous inspection technologies in these challenging spaces.”
Rear Adm. Eric Ver Hage, CNRMC lauded the team’s effort saying, “I’m very pleased to see shipyards, warfare centers, and regional maintenance centers coming together like this to solve difficult problems we face over and over. Their use of technology, their collaborative spirit, and their exploration of ideas to reduce the duration, cost, and complexity of tank inspection is tremendous and we need more of it in many areas. This effort is a great demonstration of the old adage, ‘we are better together!”
MARMC, a field under Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), provides surface ship maintenance, management and oversight of private sector maintenance and fleet technical assistance to ships in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States and provides support to the fifth and sixth Fleet Area of Responsibilities. They are also responsible for the floating dry-dock Dynamic (AFDL-6).
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