SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The Sailors of guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (CG 71) are giving the ship an extreme makeover during the Ship's Restricted Availability (SRA) maintenance period at the shipyards in San Diego, July 28.
The Sailors undertook a series of tasks usually reserved for contractors, such as preserving the masts and constructing an eco-friendly soda blaster to strip away rust and layers of paint from parts of the ship such as ladders and pipes to detect corrosion damage.
The extreme makeover is part of the crew's larger effort to extend the life of the ship to over 30 years by using cost-effective and energy efficient ways to combat the effects of corrosion and cracking.
"We were told by a lot of people 'oh, you're never going to be able to make that work, it's a shipyard,'" said Capt. Don Gabrielson, commanding officer of the Cape St. George. "Well, we're proof that you can. I think I'm being conservative in saying that we've saved the Navy at least a couple million dollars during this (SRA), and I think it's probably quite a bit more than that."
"We talk all the time about what the Navy owes us, well we owe the Navy some creativity and some elbow grease so I can show the leadership that we're spending good money here," he added.
In addition to the extreme makeover, the ship implemented a training program aimed at giving junior officers, regardless of their specialties, a better understanding of the ship's engineering spaces by training them to spot and document maintenance discrepancies and subsequently helping enhance Cape St. George's material condition readiness.
"This is a warship. There can't be any doubt in your mind that your equipment doesn't work," said Gabrielson. "You have to have people who are good at multiple things, and there's no better way for (junior officers) to learn their ship than to have their hands on it taking care of it."
Gabrielson stressed the importance of maintaining a high level of combat readiness.
"This isn't about any division. This is about the Cape St. George. At the end of the day what this is about is combat readiness," he said. "The country trusts us to keep this ship combat ready. The ship has look good because it represents our nation to anyone who sees it."
For more news from Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, visit www.navy.mil/local/pacensandiego/.