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Calibration Lab: Twice the Workload, Same Top Quality

By Troy D. Miller, Norfolk Naval Shipyard Public Affairs Specialist | March 11, 2020

Naval Station Norfolk, Norfolk, Va. —

In order for ship, aircraft and combatic equipment to work properly, it must first be calibrated and tested to ensure it meets standards. This is where the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center Calibration and Material Test Laboratories (Cal Lab) comes into play.

“Calibration of instrumentation and test equipment is necessary to ensure ship, submarine and aircraft systems are functioning correctly,” said Code 137 Military Department Head Deputy Director Lt. Peter Biersack. “If not, it may prevent the safe operation of those assets and could lead to detrimental effects on the safety of the Sailors and for the Navy’s mission.”

Historically, the Cal Lab has kept the fleet calibration readiness average to 92 percent. Depending on the equipment, the minimum score is 85 – 90 percent for 360 commands worldwide.

“Regardless if the minimum is 85 or 90 percent, we set our own minimum at 90 for all equipment,” said Code 137 Calibration Laboratory Director, Mark Brown.

Six months before deployment of a battlegroup consisting of an aircraft carrier, an airwing with approximately 80 aircraft, five to seven surface ships and two submarines, Cal Lab personnel make it their highest priority so that the battlegroup can get underway on schedule to support the Navy’s mission.

“Preparing a battlegroup deployment is what we do,” said Brown. “The civilians and Sailors of the Cal Lab train and plan ahead to take on these tasks with a ‘we can’ attitude to meet the demands of the fleet.”

Due to an emergent carrier repair, the deployment schedule for a battlegroup was delayed to the point where the Cal Lab had to ensure that all equipment calibration was up to standard and read to last the length of the deployment.

“We ended up calibrating a battlegroup twice, plus another battlegroup that was scheduled to deploy,” said Brown. “On top of that, we supported the delivery of the USS La Jolla (SSN 701) to Nuclear Power Training Unit in Charleston, South Carolina, the undocking of the USS Wyoming (SSBN 742), the undocking of the USS San Francisco (SSN 711) and the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) availability.”

This workload did not discourage the Cal Lab team. Members made a plan and stuck with it.

“We ended up doing six months of work in a three month timeframe,” said Brown. “And our calibration readiness average was not affected.”

Regardless of the workload amount, the morale stays high. The retention rate for Sailors is at 98 percent and the civilian turnover is low as well.

The Cal Lab team members will continue to support Norfolk Naval Shipyard and the fl