NOB, Norfolk, VA —
Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC) and Southeast Regional Maintenance Center (SERMC) are teaming up in Hampton Roads to conduct maintenance availabilities for two patrol coastal (PC) ships homeported in Mayport, Fla.
USS Shamal (PC 13) is undergoing Docking Phased Maintenance Availability (DPMA) by Colonna’s Shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia to replace two main engines, the entire HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) and Reverse Osmosis systems and conduct major hull and main deck repairs. While USS Tornado (PC 14) is contracted to East Coast Repair and Fabrication (EC&R) for an emergency dry-docking to replace the main engine and reinforce the steel on the hull and underwater hull.
The two ship repair facilities were awarded these firmed-fixed priced contracts after coast-wide bids by master-ship repair contractors up and down the eastern seaboard.
It’s a long way from home for these ship’s crews and maintenance teams. While adjusting to a new area, new way of doing business and new working partners comes with a unique set of challenges. Project managers and leaders from SERMC and MARMC began preparing for these out of homeport availabilities once the contracts were awarded at A-60 days, coordinating through conference calls discussing the various work packages, force protection plans, how projects teams will be staffed and Ship’s Force accommodations .
“Anytime you go from your homeport or comfort zone, there are bound to be issues and problems that are not familiar with the area back home,” said SERMC/Tornado Project Manager, Luis Burgos. “We have to do the advance planning efforts for each ship – logistically and operational. For Shamal it’s a lot easier because it is scheduled. For Tornado it takes a little more hurried effort to plan because it is an emergency.”
“The avail is unique because we’re 650 miles out from homeport,” added SERMC/Shamal Project Manager Tim Santrock. “Things that we take for granted such as Local Standard Items in a homeport bid were not included in the "Out of Homeport" solicitation.”
While in Hampton Roads, the teams, and crews of both ships, will rely on MARMC to provide much needed resources they would otherwise have at home. MARMC Project Manager Gary Cooper is the liaison between MARMC and the two maintenance teams.
“While they’re here in Virginia, a lot of the points of contact they’re used to are not readily available,” said Cooper. “So when they need something I’m here to help get it for them. Also, while they’re here, they don’t have the same maintenance team as they do in Florida. There will be continual changes and that will be one of the biggest challenges. So, I am here to provide that tribal knowledge to help.”
The success of these availabilities will depend heavily on the communication between the experts involved more than anything else. Whenever you have a group of professionals who are used to doing things a different way, there will likely be growing pains. However, regardless of how and why things are done, completing the job is the one thing they all have in common.
“It’s the same work, but with different cultures, attitudes and new people,” said Cooper. “Down there they have relationships they can depend on that they’ve taken years to build. Up here all the relationships are brand new.
“But like with any new team there is always that ‘hey we have to get to know each other, get to know the other person and get to find out what the leader wants,’” he continued. “I think we are passed that now. We know where we’re going, we know expectations and we’re moving along those lines.”
“Communication is always the key,” added Burgos. “Anywhere you go communication is the path you use to get everything coordinated, get everything in place to become a team.”
SERMC ship building specialists and project managers are not the only ones adjusting to this relocation. Each ship has a crew of about 30 Sailors who are acclimating to a new environment and who are anxious to get their ships back to the fleet.
“They [the crew] have to come with an open mind,” said Burgos. “Their event horizon has been changed. They’re out of their comfort zone. The surroundings are different. To a captain the most important thing is the keep his crew together and readily engaged on the availability.”
It will be a total team effort through the summer to get these PCs repaired and back to Mayport. The project teams from SERMC and MARMC realize this and know their focus have to be completely in sync as one unit.
“Overall, we will be successful because our hybrid team of MARMC and SERMC expect nothing less,” concluded Santrock. “This is great team building as we get to know each other professionally and personally. I look forward to my time here in Norfolk and to the successful completion of the avails.”
“Everybody plays a role with one thing in mind ‘to complete this work in a timely manner under budget and the quality of the work has to be good,’” added Burgos. “We have got to be one team. The key word is ‘team.’ Everyone dealing with production, quality assurance, finances and contracts – we all have to be together.”