HORN OF AFRICA (NNS) -- USS Boxer (LHD 4) is one massive machine, with myriad moving parts and pieces that work cohesively to make the ship function and enable it to accomplish its mission.
Various technical ratings are employed to keep the ship's control systems and workstations functioning: if a computer goes down, the information systems technicians are called; if a radar stops functioning correctly, the electronics technicians are on the job. But when a major piece of machinery is broken and a repair part needs to be manufactured, Boxer's machinery repairmen (MR) step up to the plate.
The MRs are the ship's metal workers and part manufacturers. MRs maintain the serviceability of the ship's machinery equipment, particularly in the engineering spaces, which contribute directly to Boxer's ability to move.
Machinery Repairman 2nd Class Louis Houston, leading petty officer for Boxer's Machine Shop, says an average day of repairs in the shop includes drilling and tapping holes in replacement parts, touching up replacement shafts for motors or manufacturing entirely new parts.
"Basically, any amount of jobs can be assigned to us at any moment," Houston said. "What's important is the type of job; anything concerning the main propulsion spaces takes complete priority, as we need to get the ship back to mission-capable status."
The machine shop is a boon to the Navy's pocketbook, saving the ship countless dollars on externally purchased repair parts by manufacturing them in-house. The shop recently remanufactured a check-valve release arm which had broken during the ship's last deployment, saving approximately $1,500. The shop has repaired countless parts, from test-fitting caps, to dogging bolts for the damage controlmen, to hinges for the fire controlmen and more, with job-completion times varying with the type of job.
Houston said he enjoys the customer satisfaction he sees when he completes a job well, as well as the positive feedback from Boxer's chain of command, and that his favorite part about his rating is the art in designing and creating that most people on the outside looking in don't see.
"I've made a lot of quality parts and redesigned projects in my 12 and a half years in the Navy," Houston said. "I really enjoy getting to sit back and say, 'I did a damn fine job!'"
Boxer is deployed as part of Boxer Amphibious Readiness Group/13th Marine Expeditionary Unit supporting Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet area of operations. MSO help develop security in the maritime environment and compliment the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations. From security arises stability that results in global economic prosperity. These operations seek to disrupt violent extremists' use of the maritime environment to transport personnel and weapons or serve as a venue for attack.
For more news from USS Boxer (LHD 4), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd4/.