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NEWS | Jan. 29, 2015

Norfolk Naval Shipyard develops cost savings tool for work on USS Albany

By Norfolk Naval Shipyard Public Affairs

PORTSMOUTH, Virginia. - Norfolk Naval Shipyard's (NNSY) Rapid Prototype Lab (RPL) has developed an improved tool for manually honing steering and diving cylinders aboard Los Angeles-class submarines.

This task was formerly done with an a 60 pound drill that was difficult to control and required up to six personnel over the course of the workday.

"We wanted something that would take the strain off our backs and cut time getting the job done," said NNSY outside machinist David Bryant, who first brainstormed a way to improve the process during USS Newport News' (SSN 750) Engineered Overhaul (EOH). "After our talks, they went to the lab and developed what we have now."

The development and testing for the new tool took about a year and a half. USS Albany (SSN 753), undergoing an EOH at NNSY, being the first opportunity to try out the new honing process. Team members at the RPL developed a roller support fixture on the device, requiring only two people to be with it at a time. It reduced the costs in man-hours, performing the job as well as improving the quality of work in handling the machinery.

"You get a better job with this device because it's now easier to control," said John Tate, NNSY rapid prototype lab toolmaker. "This job is the perfect example of bringing the mechanic's ideas to life."

Many new tools and processes come from shipyard employee ideas that are derived from two programs at NNSY: The Bright Ideas Program and the Rapid Prototype Lab. The shipyard's Bright Ideas program promotes the importance of workforce ownership and engagement, soliciting employee suggestions to improve shipyard productivity, and the Rapid Prototype Lab makes the working prototypes a reality.

NNSY, a Naval Sea Systems Command field activity, is the oldest industrial facility belonging to the U.S. Navy, and specializes in repairing, overhauling and modernizing ships and submarines.