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Team innovates battery removal during sub inactivation

By Patricia Armstrong, PSNS & IMF Project Zone Manager | May 16, 2019

Bremerton, Washington —
As part of Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility’s ongoing focus on completing projects on time or early, a team from PSNS & IMF's Code 740, Rigging and Operations Division; and Shop 51, Battery Shop Team, tried something new during the inactivation process of USS Bremerton (SSN 698).
For the first time at PSNS & IMF, the team removed the batteries from a submarine (Bremerton) while the vessel was nested outboard of another submarine, in this case USS Jacksonville (SSN 699). Both vessels were moored at Pier 6.
While much of the work to inactivate a submarine is performed the same whether a vessel is in dry dock or pier side, removing the batteries from a vessel while it is waterborne, especially while nested outboard, presents extra challenges for the team lifting the batteries out.
Members of the team that planned and executed the battery removal knew the effort put into the unique lift would contribute to the overall success of the inactivation process.
“It feels really good and gives us a sense of accomplishment to know that the command has enough confidence in the Battery Shop team’s skillset and ability to perform complex and rare jobs in a safe and timely manner,” explained Connor Ferguson, electrical worker, Shop 51.
Lifting batteries out of a submarine is a precise lift, which can be made more difficult by the water’s movement. For example, the team had to account for the wakes of ferries arriving and departing the ferry terminal in Bremerton. 
Ferguson credited the skill and teamwork among all the members of his group for the successful lift.
“I work with a great bunch of people who are highly capable, skilled, and work well as a team,” said Ferguson. “The Battery Shop is tasked with the battery work on three different classes of submarine. This team has the ability to switch gears from boat to boat, without skipping a beat. I really value their dedication and versatility, meeting scheduling goals each time. It is so great to be part of such an awesome group
of people.”
With Bremerton being the outboard of the two nested boats, the use of a mobile crane was not possible due to the distance away from the pier that the crane would need to reach.  Instead, a portal crane was used to reach out over the vessel and remove the batteries.
“The job presented a lot of challenges for us … the travel path was over the inboard boat, and it was a waterborne lift requiring extra focus by the team to watch out for each other,” stated Bill Sawyers, lifting and handling operations general foreman, on behalf of his team.
Due to the placement of the portal crane, the travel path of the items being lifted was much further than the path would have been using a mobile crane.
“We mitigated our risks, and had several ‘Take Two Briefings’ throughout the job,” said Sawyers. “This was our second battery job as a team, with our established communication and teamwork from our previous battery job helped the team to finish the job early without any problems.”