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When a Plan Comes Together: Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s Engineering and Planning Department supports upcoming USS Iwo Jima availability

By Michael Brayshaw, NNSY Lead Public Affairs Specialist | May 20, 2020

NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD, Portsmouth, Va. —

Saving time, reducing personnel on travel, and harnessing beneficial technology while practicing smart behaviors to prevent COVID-19 are just some of the ways Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s (NNSY) Engineering and Planning Department (Code 200) is effectively supporting an integrated shipcheck this month onboard USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) in Mayport, Florida.

            Even in a good month with favorable conditions, coordinating a shipcheck takes a lot of time, effort and planning.  Shipchecks provide vital information for the development of Ship Installation Drawings (SIDs), which in this instance will be supporting modernization work during Iwo Jima’s upcoming Drydocking Selected Restricted Availability (DSRA). To coordinate this effort, NNSY’s Code 200 Planning Yard collaborated with Naval Surface Force Atlantic (COMNAVSURLANT), Southeast Regional Maintenance Center (SERMC), NAVSEA’s Surface Ship Modernization Program Office (PMS 407) as well as ship’s force to plan an effective and integrated shipcheck with respect to the current concerns related to COVID-19.  Teaming between these entities had both a spirit of collaboration and sense of urgency, as coordination and execution of advanced planning for the shipcheck happened in less than a week when it usually takes a month.

With continued concerns about minimizing travel and downsizing large teams as practical, Code 200 was able to assemble a team of 12 planning yard engineers, a fraction of the originally planned 62 personnel, to travel to Mayport.  To minimize the spread of COVID-19 while maximizing the mission of supporting Iwo Jima’s upcoming availability, Code 200 is providing personal protective equipment to its team members as well as sanitizing stations onboard the ship.  “The Planning Yard shipcheck coordinator worked with the ship’s [Executive Officer] and Medical Officer to ensure compliance with the ship’s safety requirements and support of daily health screenings,” said Gil Vieira, Code 280 Planning Yard Division Head.  “Planning Yard personnel will undergo daily temperature checks and health assessments, in accordance with the CUSFF/NAVNORTH COVID-19 Screening Questionnaire, before going onboard the ship.  All our engineers will follow bubble-to-bubble protocol, with shipcheck team members travelling individually using their own vehicles or rental cars. Code 200 is committed to continue to support to the fleet while protecting the well-being of its employees.”

            In regards to how the Planning Yard is able to meet its mission with less than one-fifth of the onsite team’s initially expected size, Code 200 is effectively capitalizing on both technology and teleworking. A small cross section of hull, mechanical and electrical engineers, in adherence with COMNAVSURFLANT safety measures, will ensure data collection is attained for the drawings supporting upcoming execution of essential modernization work onboard.  Concurrently, additional Planning Yard engineers, many of whom are currently teleworking, will use three-dimensional scans from previous shipchecks, as well as drawings developed for similar alterations on other amphibious warfare vessels, to support continued drawing development for alterations scheduled for shipcheck this September. 

            “These are great demonstrations of what our high-performing teams are capable of, even while contending with COVID-19,” said Shipyard Commander Captain Kai Torkelson.  “I thank the members of Code 200 for their personal leadership and resilience during this challenging time as we continue to minimize the spread and maximize the mission.”