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NEWS | March 5, 2021

MARMC Teams up with Ship Repair Industry to address “Pre-Deployment Bubble” COVID Protocols To Fix Ships

By Hendrick Dickson

The Navy’s largest East Coast maintenance center and their ship repair and maintenance partners in Hampton Roads are teaming up to prevent the threat of COVID outbreaks on ships in a “pre-deployment bubble”- a method to ensure crew is COVID free prior to deploying.- while continuing to provide timely and safe routine and emergent maintenance services.

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC), in collaboration with the private ship repair industry, has established standard specifications that allow contractors and technical assistants to conduct maintenance aboard ships minimizing the threat of a COVID outbreak that could impact a ship’s schedule.

“Working to keep ship’s crews healthy and safe is a top priority,” said MARMC Commanding Officer Capt. Tim Barney. “That goes hand-in-hand with ensuring the ship is repaired and fully mission capable. Without a complete and healthy crew our forward deployed assets will not be as effective in completing their objectives. Our aim is to provide the fleet with the total package, a crew and a ship ready to perform at the tip of the spear.”

During the month of February, some of the first ships needing emergent repairs, began to have new COVID specifications included in their maintenance contracts. East Coast Repair and Fabrication served as a test bed during the December holidays for how these specifications would work. Colonna’s Shipyard Inc., in Norfolk, became the second shipyard in the region to adapt the new pre-deployment specifications.

Guidelines include:

  • Taking a rapid COVID test on the quarterdeck and receiving a negative result before being allowed to access the ship.
  • Maintaining a minimum of six feet social distancing to the maximum extent possible.
  • Wearing N-95 masks while onboard the ship.
  • Following designated routes to and from the work location.
  • Implementing disinfection and cleaning stations.
  • Wearing Tyvex suits when practical.

“The primary goal is to ensure we’re doing all we can to prevent an outbreak,” said MARMC Project Manager Sam Moore. “Not only are the contractors and onboard technical assistants abiding by the guidelines, but anybody who is going to the ship to provide any kind of services or maintenance are required to abide by these procedures as well.”

With the priority of on-time delivery of ships back to the fleet, MARMC and local shipyard leaders are focused on ensuring the ships are mission ready with as few interruptions to their schedule as possible. The COVID specifications will be included in all MARMC contracts in the near future.

MARMC provides surface ship maintenance, management and oversight of private sector maintenance and fleet technical assistance to ships in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States and provides support to the fifth and sixth Fleet Area of Responsibilities. They are also responsible for the floating dry-dock Dynamic (AFDL-6).