SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Almost one month after USS Carl Vinson's (CVN 70) return from a Western Pacific deployment supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, the crew is putting on hard hats and safety goggles for a planned incremental availability (PIA) period July 5-Feb. 1, 2013.
According to Cmdr. Dan Lannamann, chief engineer and PIA availability manager, the primary purpose of PIA is to maintain the 50-year projected service life of an aircraft carrier by taking the ship off-line for an extended period to accomplish deep maintenance and modernization that would be impractical during a normal in-port period.
"Deep maintenance means tearing into equipment or taking apart systems that are not going to be restored in a short period of time," Lannamann said. "It is a period where the ship is temporarily not available for war-time operations."
During the seven-month timeframe the ship will undergo several improvements worth $110 million and will be unable to get underway.
The vast amount of maintenance scheduled during PIA will require the effort of all hands, Lannamann said. Many Sailors assigned to the ship's force will be temporarily reassigned to 20 tiger teams - teams focusing on specific maintenance, such as painting, tiling, or watertight doors.
In addition to varied work assignments, Carl Vinson Sailors can anticipate more changes to their everyday lives. Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Oxendine, Carl Vinson's maintenance officer and PIA assistant availability manager, explained one of more significant changes Sailors will experience.
"We have just recently gained custody of a berthing barge that will be implemented for Sailors who live on this ship," Oxendine said. Not only will Sailors' living arrangements be altered, but their meals, also, will be eaten on the barge instead of on board Carl Vinson.
"There is a significant amount of work that is going to impact habitability of the spaces and availability of some of the services. The overall impact of PIA is greater than your average in-port period," Oxendine said.
While Sailors adjust to changes in the ship they called home for six months at sea, they will also see a lot of new faces.
"We are going to come close to doubling the ship's population with the amount of outside assistance we are getting during PIA," said Lannamann. "We will have upwards of 1,500 non-ship's force personnel assisting with PIA in some way, shape or form."
But no matter whom Carl Vinson has assisting with PIA, the ship's force is ultimately responsible for the upkeep and well-being of the ship, Lannamann said.
"The point we really want to hammer home with everyone is that the ship never stops being ours. We never turn over with anyone, and we are the ones who are expected to take her out come February 1st," Lannamann said.
No matter what condition the ship appears to be in at any time, it is still performing a mission.
"We must take advantage of this opportunity while in port to focus on the mission at hand, which is no longer launching aircraft or supporting the boots on the ground, but taking care of our ship so we can finish on time, so she can get back out and do what she was built to do," Lannamann said.
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