20 October 2011

Visit to USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71), “The Big Stick”

Aviation Machinist's Mate Airman (AW)
Adam Johnson and Aviation Electronics
Technician Airman (AW) Malachi Bassett
make repairs on a light fixture
This week I had the opportunity to visit USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71) at Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipyard where she is just over halfway through a Refueling Complex Overhaul (RCOH). The RCOH is a process conducted on our nuclear powered ships that involves replacing expended nuclear fuel with new fuel. The “Complex” moniker is due to all of the “other” significant work that is being completed in addition to the nuclear refueling– a complete change out of the mast, catapults, arresting gear, electronic systems, flight and hangar deck refurbishment, habitability improvements, and the list goes on. The entire ship is an industrial environment while she gets a complete mid-life overhaul that sets her up for the next 25 years of operations.   
Sailors from Air Department's V-4
division work to finish various
upgrades on the first rehabilitated
berthing space. The berthing space
is one of 59 that have been upgraded
to provide Sailors a higher standard
of living.
Although a majority of the RCOH work is conducted by the shipyard, our TR Sailors are still tackling some big jobs. In addition to the standard habitability improvements, setting system conditions, retest following restoration, watchstanding and security, overall cleanliness, and training, our Sailors are responsible for removing/reinstalling insulation and painting the hangar bay overhead and bulkheads; painting 80% of ships spaces (including the two large mess decks); repairing or replacing 50,000 square feet of decking; rip out and rehab of 59 berthing spaces; rehab of all watertight and non-watertight doors and hatches; rehab of all ladders; cleaning all ships ventilation ducting; and tearing out 40 miles of obsolete cable ways.

 Every area I visited – from the flight deck, hangar, propulsion plant and machinery spaces, to the enclosed operating space, reactor training room, and berthing areas – I encountered our Sailors and shipyard technicians fully engaged and hard at work. 
Aviation Machinist Mate Airman
John Benfield needle guns a watertight
hatch to prepare the door for the
sandblast booth.

Now, I’ve talked at length about the complex missions our deployed Sailors execute around the world, around the clock, every day (conducting flight ops in support of combat operations, executing the BMD Mission, or conducting vital surveillance and intelligence operations). But it’s equally important to recognize that for every ship deployed forward, we have one back home conducting critical maintenance and training. In fact, we currently have 49 ships receiving some form of depot-level maintenance in our public and private shipyards. Each one of these carriers, ships, and submarines in deep maintenance are filled with hard-working Sailors who work long hours to execute the maintenance mission, and maintenance most certainly is a mission. Their duties may not be as exciting as carrying out operations at sea, but they still put in a full effort each and every day to bring their ships back to fighting condition. And while some of the other overhauls may not be as complex as TR’s, they are certainly just as important to the long term sustainment of our Fleet.    
Electrician's Mate Third Class Alisa Barksdale
performs an operational test on an elevator
As I walked THEODORE ROOSEVELT and spent time with her crew, I was very pleased with what I saw and heard from our Sailors - a very straight-forward recognition of the challenges such a complex refueling and overhaul presents to all hands, but also a great sense of purpose and determination to bring the ship through the overhaul and get her back to sea where she belongs, ready to go. All the best, JCHjr
ABFAN Bey (sitting) and ABE1 Samson
(standing).  ABE1 Samson is the
Air Department/V2 Division's Maintenance
Control Leading Petty Officer responsible
for tracking and execution of all planned
and corrective maintenance actions on
Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment

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