NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- After its collision with a large Japanese-owned merchant vessel near the Strait of Hormuz, U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) completed voyage repairs in Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates, and returned to Norfolk, Va., Nov. 4.
Commander, Navy Regional Maintenance Center (CNRMC), Rear Adm. David Gale, led damage assessments and initial repairs on Porter after the ship's Aug. 12 collision. A team from Norfolk Ship Support Activity (NSSA) and several NAVSEA commands, helped assess the ship's damage and assisted Gale in the ship's repair efforts.
"The repair team arrived in Dubai on Aug. 15, which gave them virtually no advance notification to prepare for this effort. Despite the inherent challenges, their ability to arrive and immediately help assess damage and support repair recommendations was commendable," said Gale.
Among the repair team crew who supported the effort were Southeast Regional Maintenance Center (SERMC) Commanding Officer, Capt. Ron Cook; SERMC's Chief Engineer Phil Schmid; Norfolk Ship Support Activity (NSSA) Engineering Department project support engineers Tone D'Addario and Larry Gruber; NSSA Engineering Technician Chris Andres; NSSA Detachment Bahrain Officer-in-Charge Cmdr. William Hardman; and NSSA Detachment Bahrain project officers Lt. Cmdr. Paul Stence and Lt. Cmdr. Dan Kidd.
General Dynamics Bath Iron Works also played an integral part of the effort, providing both planning and engineering support to the permanent repairs needed for the ship to return to the continental United States.
Several Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) divisions, including NAVSEA's Supervisor of Salvage and Diving Division (SEA 00C) Lt. Cmdr. John Bauer, a diving and salvage project officer, also aided in the effort.
Though the collision left a gash in the side of the destroyer, the repair team's divers inspected Porter and determined no apparent structural damage below the waterline existed.
The effort, conducted between Aug. 15 and Sept. 16, included damage removal and reconstruction. The total repair time took 33 days to complete, and restored all critical systems.
According to Cook, around-the-clock work allowed the team to successfully complete the ship's voyage repairs earlier than originally anticipated.
"The size of the structural repair was approximately 70 feet by 35 feet by 20 feet. We estimated 3,100 square feet of vertical plate, a 1,000 square feet of horizontal plate, and 1,000 linear feet of distributed piping systems, including firemain; ventilation; chill water; potable water; aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF); Halon fire alarm system activation; plumbing vents; and magazine sprinkling, which are designed to store explosive ordnance and automatically contain and suppress fires," said Cook.
Additionally, 1,300 electrical cables were identified and had to be pulled back and dead ended, 48 critical systems for safe operations had to be rewired and energized, several structural brackets for the AN/SLQ-32, the shipboard electronic warfare suite, were replaced and one life raft bracket was repaired.
"The repair team had significant concerns at the start of the project, ranging from available materials to basic means of communications," siad Andres." Overall, the team noted the material side was the biggest hurdle to overcome for the repair team. They had to rebuild three entire decks and over 60 structural frames ensuring NAVSEA standards were adhered to and the ship could safely transit back to continental United States without restrictions to her operational abilities."
The team spent many hours beyond their normal work days assessing and reporting the material strength, size, composition, and availability requirements to NAVSEA personnel to obtain approval for use in the repair efforts.
Andres also noted that the team had to develop repair techniques and procedures to be used by the contractor to ensure they also complied with NAVSEA standards and requirements. This challenge was further complicated during the inspection of work since the work force came from no less than seven different countries.
The heat in Dubai also factored in as a major issue for the repair teams. The temperature exceeded 120 degrees their first 21 days there, then remained above 100 degrees for the remainder of the project. Further compounding their challenges, Dubai law restricts work from being accomplished in direct sunlight from 1 p.m. to approximately 4 p.m. daily. This resulted in mid-day changes to the work schedule to allow workers to conduct interior ship repairs or provide the workers with adequate tenting coverage while working outside.
"I'm proud of the many NSSA employees who contributed to voyage repair efforts that enabled the Porter to make it home. This was an exceptional collaborative effort, and the NSSA Team came through as I expected," said NSSA's Commanding Officer, Capt. William Galinis.
"This was a monumental task, and was the first time a repair of this caliber was completed outside the U.S., and on top of that, done pier side and not in a shipyard," said Andres.
It could not have been accomplished, according to Andres, without the true teamwork of both the Navy and civilian teams. Many of those who supported those teams were in the air as the Porter was mooring to the pier, then spent every waking moment on the job. The expert craftsmanship provided by the contractors, under the most adverse conditions imaginable, was one of the main reasons the project was completed in record time.
"I would like to personally thank the entire team for all of the tremendous support they provided," said NAVSEA Commander Vice Adm. Kevin McCoy. "Their successes were no minor feat, but through their exemplary solidarity they set the Porter on her course toward her to full mission capability."
For more information about Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), visit www.navsea.navy.mil
For more information about Commander, Navy Regional Maintenance Center (CNRMC), visit www.navsea.navy.mil/CNRMC.