FDRMC Dive Locker Clears Fouling on USS Firebolt

Story Number: NNS190419-07Release Date: 4/19/2019 12:03:00 PM
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From FDRMC Public Affairs

NAPLES, ITALY (NNS) -- Forward Deployed Regional Maintenance Center Detachment Bahrain divers recently provided emergent diver support to get the USS Firebolt (PC 10) back to full operational status to execute missions in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

“FDRMC's mission statement is ‘We fix Ships and We Take Care of Our People.’  ‘Our People’ does not simply mean those that work for FDRMC, but it implies our customers and the Fleet, as well!  It is our number one goal to provide the best service to Forward Deployed assets in the 5th Fleet and 6th Fleet area of operations.  My divers are also very eager to support this goal, as each of them are volunteers from the stateside RMCs who sacrifice their precious time at home with their families to support FDRMC for months at a time to ‘fix ships’ that defend freedom and safe passage of the seas,” said Navy Lt. Ben Carroll, FDRMC Det Bahrain’s, deputy officer in charge and dive master.

FDRMC’s dive locker is a team of divers, through a memorandum of agreement, from Mid-Atlantic RMC, Southeast RMC, and Southwest RMC. 

Additionally, on this particular mission, the team was also supported by Naval Sea Systems (NAVSEA) Command’s 00C underwater ship husbandry project manager, Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin Hall, who provided distance support, and Chief Warrant Officer Larry "Shawn" S. Lorenz, who provided onsite support. 

Once FDRMC divers receive a request for diver support, the first job is to inspect, take pictures and video underwater, assess what may be required in terms of diver experience, tools and equipment and establish a work timeline.  In the case of the Firebolt, it was found initially and subsequently verified through inspections that a fishing net was entangled in places not normally expected. This was due to the large quantity of netting that was fouling a shaft, which inhibited a full inspection of the affected areas and also due to the small nylon netting size (similar to that of fishing line).

At that point, a plan was devised that required collaborative effort from several entities including representatives from NAVSEA; Naval Surface Warfare Center Carder Rock; Commander, Navy RMC; and FDRMC divers and engineers. 

The netting, lines, and fishing buoys had wrapped around one of the shafts to the point that all the heat and friction melted everything together, making it a difficult to cut away and remove.  Furthermore, due to the rotational forces from the shaft, all of this molten fouling was sucked into every crevasse it could fit.  It worked itself into the stern tube and all its bearings, requiring divers to cut out a portion of one of the affected shaft's stern tubes, to cut the shaft's main strut rope guard completely off, and to literally spend weeks cutting and grinding away at fouling after the cuts were made. 

Additionally, the team suspected that the main strut bearing had been wiped out by the fouling, which required an in-water propeller removal to prevent damage to the strut and to the shaft.  This operation had not been executed by U.S. Navy divers on this class of ship for more than a decade, which is why Chief Warrant Officer Lorenz became part of the team as he provided the technical guidance to the divers during the removal process.  FDRMC divers with his guidance successfully removed the propeller, allowing the ship to return to mission on schedule.

“I'm very proud of the teaming effort to efficiently plan and execute this challenging task, as well as the hard work put in by the dive team to get the hull cut, propeller removed, and shaft clear of all netting enabling USS Firebolt to return to mission,” said Cmdr. Sarah Zarro, FDRMC Det Bahrain officer-in-charge.

"FDRMC dive team worked tirelessly to restore Firebolt to an operational asset for the 5th Fleet Commander. Their work ethic and determination were second to none. There were days when we literally had to pull them out of the water and say 'you are done for the day, we can reattack again tomorrow'. True professionals each and every one of them. I cannot say enough about Lt. Carroll either, his leadership and dedication to complete a procedure that had not been done since the early 2000's was amazing. From the writing of the formal work package through the execution, it reminds you why we are the greatest Navy - it is leaders like Lt. Carroll and Sailors like the FDRMC divers,” said Lt. Cmdr. Roger Young, commander of USS Firebolt.

This mission is one of the many reasons FDRMC, the Navy’s European-based forward deployed sustainment and maintenance support command, is located in Naples, Italy, with detachments in Rota, Spain, and Manama, Bahrain. The Sailors, civilians and contractors working for the command provide sustainment work on forward deployed ships such as the USS Firebolt and others located in Bahrain as well as in Spain, and provide fleet technical assistance, on-ship repairs, and additional assistance as needed to any ship in the two fleets’ area of operations.


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