Warning

 

Close

Confirm Action

Are you sure you wish to do this?

Confirm Cancel
Member Login
Posted: 8/3/2005 7:00:25 PM EDT
August 08, 2005

GW overhaul halfway done - Dry-dock tours give carrier crew a view from below

By William H. McMichael
Times staff writer

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Aircraft carriers are pretty darn big. If you don’t believe it, try standing under one some time.

Last month, a group of reporters got to do just that, joining officials from Northrop Grumman Newport News and sailors of the carrier George Washington at the bottom of Dry Dock No. 11. The July 25 visit marked the halfway point in the huge ship’s 10½-month, $324.3 million overhaul.

“We’re pretty pleased with the results,” said Dave O’Donnell, the Virginia shipyard’s construction manager for nuclear propulsion, watching a worker on a nearby lift spray sparks as he performed welds on one of the 45,000-pound rudders fastened to the underside of the massive hull. Added Todd West, construction manager for topside work: “Everything is on or ahead of schedule. The teamwork — it’s been unprecedented.”



In just under six months, workers — an average of 1,600 per day — have overhauled the carrier’s rudders, its four shafts and its now-gleaming bronze propellers. The GW is getting a new five-layer coat of paint from the waterline down. Workers are also blasting and coating numerous tanks, modernizing spaces to support the F/A-18 Super Hornet jet and enhancing crew berthing.

The progress, officials said, is a credit to the Navy’s “One Shipyard” concept that aims to combine private and public maintenance expertise to sustain fleet readiness. The GW team includes workers from Norfolk Naval Shipyard, across the Hampton Roads waterway in Portsmouth. The naval yard was supposed to get the GW overhaul until the Navy delayed the upcoming, complex refueling of the Carl Vinson and juggled the schedule.

“But they kept the same management team on board,” West said. “We have a great relationship with Norfolk Naval on this one. We’re actually proving that One Shipyard works.”

Officials said the ship’s force has been a big factor in the progress.

Sailors are reworking berthing areas and replacing worn lagging. Spray teams are painting “almost the entire inside of the ship,” said Capt. Garry R. White, the GW’s commanding officer. And in what he called a break from the norm, sailors also are painting the outside hull above the waterline, saving taxpayers a large portion of the $11 million budgeted for the shipyard to perform the work.

“I never cease to be amazed at the incredible wealth of talent that is resident in this crew,” White said.

Sailors have been known to grouse a bit about overhaul duty. There are benefits, such as a duty day that is well short of, say, a day on deployment. Sailors continue to receive sea pay. Yet the work is grinding, sometimes boring, and it’s not always what they signed up to do.

But several sailors, all veterans of previous yard periods, say this job is going pretty well and that the unique demands of the overhaul period give some the opportunity to shine.

Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class (SW/AW) Erik Allison is normally a 1st Division deck supervisor. Now, he’s leading a spray team and filling what amounts to a leading petty officer billet, supervising 15 sailors and reporting directly to a chief. “It’s giving me the opportunity to stand out and show my leadership skills,” he said.

“You’ve got a lot of issues to deal with,” said Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class (SW/AW) Johnnie Milow Jr., a veteran of five yard periods now serving as LPO of a cableway improvement team pulling old cable so shipyard workers can install fiber optic lines.

“You’ve got safety, you’ve got planning. I’ve got 15 people that work under me. From all different backgrounds. I’ve got to juggle different personalities to motivate them to work … I’ve got five different rates that I work with,” Milow said. “It’s just bringing the whole thing together to try and get the work done.”

White also is keeping the crew busy with community relations projects such as Save the Bay Day. The goal he set for 20,000 hours of service to the greater Newport News area during the availability will be easily exceeded.

“So many of the crew became involved with projects … that once they start it, they became involved and wanted to continue, even on their off time,” White said. “We had sailors going over to Home Depot and buying stuff out of their own pockets just to go finish the job.”

Crew members say that participation is voluntary.

Sailors also said they appreciate the Newport News emphasis on safety. “You’re looking at two or three hours of paperwork and coordination, just so I can go in and do a 20-minute job,” said Allison. “It’s safer. There’s a lot of coordination between the leaders of the teams and the shipyard just so that our people can go in and knock out a job.”

That’s a good idea in a busy and cluttered industrial environment with a 77,607-ton vessel at its center, resting only on wood and concrete blocks.

It’s such an impressive sight that White wants every sailor aboard to have a chance to descend the stairway at the ship’s stern before the carrier comes out of the dry dock in another month to look at something they may never see again — the view from below.





Link Posted: 8/3/2005 7:06:53 PM EDT
I was deployed on that ship last year.

About the only good thing I have to say about it, too. I could fill an entire thread with the ways they screwed the pooch.
Link Posted: 8/3/2005 7:33:18 PM EDT
Not having been in the Navy, I guess I have a question: while a good chunk of the crew may be tied up in the rehab of the ship, I am sure there are some military specialties that don't...soo..what do they do with THOSE people for an extended period like this while the ships laid up...reassign to shore duty, temporary reassignment to other ships...whats the answer?
Link Posted: 8/3/2005 7:59:48 PM EDT

Originally Posted By tc556guy:
Not having been in the Navy, I guess I have a question: while a good chunk of the crew may be tied up in the rehab of the ship, I am sure there are some military specialties that don't...soo..what do they do with THOSE people for an extended period like this while the ships laid up...reassign to shore duty, temporary reassignment to other ships...whats the answer?



Nope. EVERYBODY gets something to do during overhaul. Everyone can learn to run a needle gun, strip floor tiles, paint, stand watch, etc, etc,.
Link Posted: 8/3/2005 8:00:21 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Unknown1Sailor:
I was deployed on that ship last year.

About the only good thing I have to say about it, too. I could fill an entire thread with the ways they screwed the pooch.



Do it, maybe we can compare notes.
Link Posted: 8/3/2005 8:10:35 PM EDT

Originally Posted By SWO_daddy:

Originally Posted By tc556guy:
Not having been in the Navy, I guess I have a question: while a good chunk of the crew may be tied up in the rehab of the ship, I am sure there are some military specialties that don't...soo..what do they do with THOSE people for an extended period like this while the ships laid up...reassign to shore duty, temporary reassignment to other ships...whats the answer?



Nope. EVERYBODY gets something to do during overhaul. Everyone can learn to run a needle gun, strip floor tiles, paint, stand watch, etc, etc,.



The nine or ten months mentioned in the thread opener seems like a long time to let technical skills degrade while the sailor wields a sander. Hope they give them some time to get back in the swing of things once they're done with repairs.
Link Posted: 8/3/2005 8:15:36 PM EDT
tagd
Link Posted: 8/3/2005 8:17:46 PM EDT

Originally Posted By tc556guy:
[The nine or ten months mentioned in the thread opener seems like a long time to let technical skills degrade while the sailor wields a sander. Hope they give them some time to get back in the swing of things once they're done with repairs.

huh? The whole ship, every dept, undergoes a workup period to do just that, before being considered 'fit for sea'.
Link Posted: 8/3/2005 8:19:08 PM EDT

Originally Posted By rayra:
huh? The whole ship, every dept, undergoes a workup period to do just that, before being considered 'fit for sea'.


Gotcha. Thats what I figured but wasn't sure.
Link Posted: 8/3/2005 8:29:11 PM EDT
That sonofabitch welder working on the rudder didn't have any sort of refasil containment set up.

Lazy east coast bastards!......

Out here that would get us written up.

Fuckers.

Chris

p.s. I HATE needlegunning paint.
Link Posted: 8/3/2005 8:31:52 PM EDT
I made a nice little score speculating on Newport News company, buying call options on it right before earnings. General Dynamics decided to announce their intentions to buy NNS that week Dumb luck.
Link Posted: 8/3/2005 9:21:52 PM EDT
If you look close at the screws in the top photo, you'll see that the pitch on the blades is reversed. The screw to the left of centerline turns counter clockwise to go ahead and the screw to the right of centerline turns clockwise to go ahead.
I talked to a Naval Shipyard welder that is working the G.W. at the supermarket the other day and he said they are mustering at Newport News and working 12 hours a day welding pipe joints. Good pipe welders are hard to come by.
Top Top