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NEWS | Aug. 10, 2017

NNSY welcomes USS Dwight D. Eisenhower

By Michael Brayshaw, NNSY Lead Public Affairs Specialist

Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) welcomed USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) Aug. 5 in advance of its six-month Planned Incremental Availability.  

Major jobs on the carrier will include nuclear special emphasis work and mechanical and electrical improvements.

The availability is scheduled to officially begin Sept. 17 which allows the project team a 40-day “early start.”  

“The key is getting all services and trailers loaded on, getting the [propulsion] plants cooled down, and starting the critical path work jobs,” said Project Superintendent Matt Merciez.  

Cmdr. Rich Hill, Eisenhower Military Deputy Superintendent, said Ike promises to improve timely hookups of temporary services and ease of transporting components off and back on the ship. “There’s a plan to put two service bridges up underway; as far as we know, no one on either coast has ever done that,” he said Hill.  “This is a huge bridge that goes up in the overhead of the hangar bay.  The ship arrives, and you can start plugging in [the temporary services] versus in the past where you would have to first build scaffolding and lay in services.”  

Merciez said the biggest challenge with this availability, with the year-end holidays falling right in the middle of it, is the short duration and volume of work, especially with the [unscheduled] growth work.  “We’ve actually accelerated the Production Completion Date before the holidays, driving a lot of the work.  It makes the early start more aggressive.  Having a smart start is paramount to having that ramp-up in executing work, so on Sept. 17, we’re hitting on all eight cylinders.”  

The shipyard will contribute 211,000 of the availability’s 428,000 mandays, with Ship’s Force, Alteration Installation Teams (AITs), and contractor work comprising the rest.  

Positioning the project well to meet its determined time targets are a number of experienced mechanics who are fresh off the USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) Planned Incremental Availability, which completed two days early in July.   

“We’re rotating more than 50 percent of the Truman mechanics to us working similar jobs on Ike,” said Hill. “You wouldn’t say we’re starting with a green crew anymore as we’ve had at the shipyard in the past few years; we now have a more experienced workforce.  The mechanics are really the reason Ike’s going to get done on time.”

“Truman finished two days early, so we’re leveraging off of that,” added Merciez.  “They set the standard, and we expect to maintain that standard.” 

The group performing the special emphasis work is also putting its experience to use, having recently accomplished similar nuclear valve work partnering with Huntington Ingalls Newport News on USS George Washington’s (CVN 73) Refueling Complex Overhaul.  “A lot of the jobs really did roll right over,” said Merciez.

Project team leadership is also emphasizing innovative approaches to deckplate work execution, and wanting to recognize its creative thinkers. “This came from [NAVSEA Commander Vice] Admiral  [Tom] Moore—to challenge the status quo,” said Merciez.  “We have, in essence, a status quo stick for recognizing the leaders on the project pushing the shipyard for change for the better.  They get to sign the stick, and we’re getting all the admirals to sign the stick.”  

The shipyard’s project team has already experienced strong communications and successful team building efforts at the Integrated Project Team Development sessions for Ike.  Partnering with Ship’s Force, AITs, and Newport News Shipbuilding, the team has spent the past several months identifying potential challenges and finding ways to effectively mitigate them.  These relate to conducting major jobs during the availability as well as improving communication with the contract partner Huntington Ingalls Industries to ensure the necessary number of zone managers on the jobs.  Identifying improvements as part of a long-range vision could ultimately save both time and money.   “We are treating planning like execution,” said Hill.   

Merciez pointed out one major milestone on the project prior to the carrier’s arrival at NNSY was completed three days early.  It’s the Resource Constrained Schedule coordinating with the waterfront shops “where you take all your work and you develop a master integrated plan on all manning requirements for who and when,” he said.   

Merciez added, “We’re focusing on starting on time, ending on time, and then the throughput, the production volume every day, one step at a time.  And focusing on the mechanic.  What does he need to do to start when he’s scheduled and finish when he’s scheduled, and eliminate any roadblocks along the way.”  

The team motto is ‘Greater together, greater today: Team Ike, ready to fight.  17 March, 2018.’  “It puts an emphasis on the day,” said Merciez. 

 “We’re finishing on time, or even early like Truman!”