Archives for category: PIA 2010

Stennis pulls into the controlled industrial area of Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for a planned incremential availability in June. Photo by MC3 Chablis Torrence

Story by MC3 Chase Corbin

The crew of John C. Stennis got the 97,000-ton Nimitz-class aircraft carrier underway Tuesday for the first time in nearly seven months.

Stennis, which entered 15 years of service Dec. 9, conducted testing during the final phase of the ship’s planned maintenance period, known as Sea Trials.

“Sea Trials puts an exclamation point on all the work that 2,672 Sailors did,” said Stennis’ Executive Officer, Capt. Michael Wettlauffer. “This is the proving time for us, at sea where we belong, testing out all the equipment, spaces and capabilities to prove that the hundreds of millions of dollars that U.S. tax payers have spent on us were worth it.”

Sea Trials is an assessment of the ship’s readiness and ability as an operational unit. All of the ship’s systems, installations and repairs have been tested, inspected and validated, ending Stennis’ maintenance period, known as a planned incremental availability (PIA).

“The three big items we accomplished out here at Sea Trials were main engine and combat systems testing as well as ongoing catapult and jet blast deflector certifications,” said Strike Operations Officer Cmdr. Stevin Johnson.

While underway Stennis tested the hangar bay and flight deck countermeasure washdown systems.

“We scrubbed 4.5 acres of flight deck surface,” said Mini Boss Cmdr. Scott Eanes. “Making it clean and FOD free so we can prepare to catch and launch airplanes.”

Stennis’ aircraft catapults were also operated for the first time since entering PIA.

“The catapult and arresting gear machinery that had been sitting dormant the whole PIA period were brought back to life,” said Eanes. “Feeling the ship shutter as the catapults were fired was probably a familiar feeling for some and a new feeling for others.”

All requirements for Sea Trials were completed during this underway.

“The appropriate Sea Trial items we needed to accomplish, we completed,” said Chief Engineer Cmdr. Matt Feehan.

Pulling away from the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF) pier marked the first time the carrier had been operational since returning from a six–month Western Pacific deployment in July 2009 and serving as surge ready carrier.

“Stennis Sailors have worked extremely hard the last eight months preparing for PIA even when we were still the surge ready carrier conducting carrier qualifications off the coast of Southern California and during our six months in Puget Sound Naval Shipyard,” said John C. Stennis Commanding Officer Capt. Joseph Kuzmick. “Many Sailors have spent a lot of long hours working away from their families even though we were home pierside in order to meet PIA milestones and bring John C. Stennis back to the operational fleet.”

More than 300,000 man-days and $137 million of completed work were tested underway. While the ship was in PIA, PSNS & IMF workers, contractors and Stennis Sailors renovated high-pressure turbines, training classrooms, catapult launch valves, arresting gear, flight deck non-skid and conducted catapult accumulator inspections.

“I enjoyed sharing information with the civilians that came aboard,” said Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class Mikel Pierce. “I got to teach them a few things and they taught me a few as well.”

Stennis’ PIA tank team set a new standard for the rest of the carrier fleet. The tank team consisted of 40 Sailors who saved the ship, government and tax-payers approximately $3 million.

“Before this PIA, tank maintenance had always been contracted out because the level of work and the danger,” said Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuels) (AW/SW) Bill Maloney. “We started a standard for the fleet. The USS Nimitz is taking our place here and will have their own tank team.”

The respirator issue and protection program aboard Stennis also set a new fleet-wide standard.

“The respirator issue and protection program, led by Lt. Ben Barrus and his proactive leadership, was a key aspect of environmental exposure,” said Stennis’ safety officer, Cmdr. Lisa Ketterman. “The program was named a ‘Fleet Best Practice’ by the Naval Safety Center and will be implemented fleet-wide.”

Stennis’ success during PIA can be directly attributed to the joint effort of Stennis Sailors, PSNS & IMF work force and contractors and their ability to work together to accomplish goals on time.

“I am incredibly proud of the teamwork of the entire team, which has actually been like working with good neighbors,” said PSNS & IMF Commander Capt. Mark R. Whitney. “The long-term relationship between PSNS & IMF and John C. Stennis is a key factor in working through the issues with great communication and trust. Bravo Zulu to Capt. Joseph Kuzmick, Mr. Tom Woodell and their team.”

“I am grateful for the strong relationship between Stennis and PSNS & IMF. It’s inspiring to see Sailors employed side-by-side with PSNS & IMF workforce and contractors to complete maintenance so John C. Stennis lasts 50 years and continues to contribute to our nation’s operations around the world and at home,” said Capt. Kuzmick.

John C. Stennis’ completion of Sea Trials renews the crew’s focus on the ship’s training cycle and operational proficiency for deployment in 2011.


Stennis Sailor ASAA Felicia Blumenfeld applies edge sealer over reflective tape on a hydraulic aircraft jack at Naval Station Everett’s Equipment Rework Facility as part of equipment overhaul work performed by Stennis’ 48-person GSE team. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dmitry Chepusov/Released)

Story and photos by
MC2 Dmitry Chepusov

Stennis Sailors assigned to overhaul ground support equipment (GSE) at Naval Station Everett’s Equipment Rework Facility have been working ten hours per day to sandblast, paint and assemble aircraft slings, weapons skids and aircraft maintenance platforms since early June.

Before Stennis entered its planned incremental availability (PIA), all GSE was preserved for storage or transportation. Once selected pieces were transferred to Everett, the equipment was disassembled for sandblasting and painting. Currently, the equipment is being carefully assembled, and planned maintenance is being performed on all the gear, then everything is preserved for transportation back to Stennis.

Thirteen aviation ordnancemen brought 600 pieces of ordnance-moving equipment to Everett in April. They finished overhauling what they brought within three months, so they brought an additional 800 pieces from Stennis in July. The AOs overhaul between 40 and 50 pieces of ordnance-moving equipment per week, said Chief Aviation Ordnanceman (AW) Don Weatherby.

“We will have a total of seventeen hundred pieces done out of Stennis’ twenty-five hundred pieces by the end of PIA,” said Weatherby, who is Stennis’ weapons department’s G-1 flight deck chief, and is leading chief petty officer for the Everett team. “It’s unprecedented to have this much gear redone during PIA. Most ships will do 50 percent, but we identified more gear that needed overhaul, so we can have more capability during the upcoming deployment.”

Thirty-four aviation support equipment technicians are performing just as well as the AOs, said Chief Aviation Support Equipment Technician (AW/SW) Matt Gayle.

“We’ve got about fourteen hundred pieces of support equipment, tow tractors, spotting dollies, tow bars, aircraft slings, nitrogen servicing units, aircraft start units and maintenance platforms, and we’re already 75 percent done with all of it,” said Gayle. “I think ASs are unique, a very small community of Sailors. We stick together like a family, and this is what keeps us motivated to get this maintenance done.”

Aviation Support Equipment Technician 2nd Class (AW) Ray Clark said it’s worth the extra work to have the equivalent of factory-new equipment when Stennis deploys once again.

“It’s a sacrifice; I leave Bremerton at five in the morning and get back to my family by nineteen hundred, but it’s definitely worth it,” said Clark.

Most of the 48 GSE Sailors are temporarily assigned barracks in Everett.

“It took a lot of prior planning to get the crew situated in barracks,” said Weatherby. “There are a lot of other challenges, because we are so remote from Stennis. When the e-mail went down on the ship [during an upgrade], we were limited to phones, which didn’t always mean having direct communication either.”

Weatherby said the team relies on local connections at Everett and NavalAir Station Whidbey Island’s Fleet Readiness Center (the shore version of Stennis’ aircraft intermediate maintenance department) for things like an unexpected missing part
or tool.

Weatherby is one of the Sailors commuting from Bremerton every day, and he said morning rush hour takes more than two hours of travel; evening travel takes more than three hours, both attributed to heavy Seattle-area traffic.

“I get tired, but I’m proud of my crew,” said Weatherby. “Seeing how this team pulls together makes it worth it.”

The junior enlisted Sailors resemble a constant maintenance production line, but they say their morale is high, and even the latest arrivals know where they fit when it comes to Stennis’ mission.

“I feel like I’m ahead of my peers,” said Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Annah Callery, who joined the Navy from Leitchfield, Ky., and arrived from ‘A’ school approximately one month before PIA. “I’ve learned a lot of details about the gear I’ll be working with when we deploy, since I’ve seen a lot of it taken completely apart and put back together. But I can’t wait to get back to Stennis, go underway and start on my [qualifications]. I want to work on the flight deck. That’s very exciting.”

GSE Sailors who’ve been deployed with Stennis say they enjoy the opportunity to experience frequent liberty ashore.

“If I compare this with work on Stennis, I guess this gives me an idea of what shore duty will be like,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Robert Chirdon, from Fallentimber, Pa.

Naval Station Everett’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities are available to the Stennis Sailors, but the GSE team also organizes frequent sports games and command picnics.

“We have potluck barbeques and play softball and football, and it helps keep everyone motivated,” said Gayle.

The GSE team will use several 18-wheelers in the course of one week to transfer all the equipment back to Stennis in mid-November.

Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Justin Emerson operates the programmable logical controller to clear faults for vertical package conveyor (VPC) number three for loading and unloading. VPCs are used to transport parts, perishables and supplies from the hangar bay to storage compartments below decks. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Heather Seelbach/Released)

Story and photo by
MC2 Heather Seelbach

During PIA, Sailors from engineering department’s steam and heat shop and contractors are performing maintenance on vertical package conveyors (VPCs), which are elevators with revolving trays used to transport items from the hangar bay to work centers and storerooms below decks.

“Vertical package conveyors are a vital part of supplying the ship with perishables, parts and equipment,” said Machinist’s Mate Fireman Timothy Rinehart. “It alleviates the need for excess manpower and prevents Sailors from having to carry heavy loads up and down ladderwells.”

Stennis has 11 working VPCs, some able to hold 85 pounds per tray and others 175 pounds of weight per tray. The VPCs are in various locations from foc`sle to fantail, and some run from the 7th deck to the 03 level.

Sailors are removing trays from the VPCs to thoroughly clean metal surfaces, using wire brushes, sandpaper and rags to remove dirt and corrosion. In the course of this preservation maintenance, they will also replace light bulbs, switches and other consumable parts. Contractors will be performing indepth maintenance such as calibrating the auto oilers and weight testing each VPC.

VPCs are essential to moving goods between decks. Supply department Sailors use VPCs to bring stores below decks after they are craned aboard in port or brought on the ship by vertical or connected replenishment underway.

When maintenance on the VPCs is complete, engineering department will have the VPCs up and running again to take a load off Sailors.

AO3 Gilbert Arambul hammers an oversized spanner wrench to loosen a control accumulator cover in lower-stage weapons elevator room five. The control accumulator holds 1500 PSI of hydraulic pressure. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman
Justin Johndro/Released)

Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class
Heather Seelbach

In the Navy, EMI doesn’t always mean extra military instruction; in the case of weapons elevators, it refers to electro-magnetic interference, which can cause weapons elevator doors and hatches to operate inadvertently.

This week, engineers from Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and Sailors from weapons department’s G4 division are performing an upgrade on upper stage weapons elevator 2. Once the upgrade is complete, NAVSEA will train G4 on how to operate and maintain the new equipment.

“We are changing out the standard electronic module on CVN 71, 72, 73, 74 and 75,” said Bradley Luck of NAVSEA. “Stennis is the last ship to receive this upgrade.”

The upgrade should avert hazards to crew members caused by EMI, and the new modification will allow for a safer work environment and better equipment reliability.

“Anything from a walkie-talkie to a cell phone can cause EMI, and the current control system is susceptible to it,” said Luck.

To remedy this problem, NAVSEA employees and G4 Sailors are installing a power conditioner in the weapons elevator system, which will filter power sources going into the elevator control system.

“The whole upgrade was done to prevent random activation of the system to ensure that the elevator is ready for operation and in the same condition we left it,” said Electrician’s Mate 1st Class (SW/AW) James Roberts.

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