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NEWS | March 16, 2021

USS Michigan undocks as end of challenging availability nears

By Max Maxfield, PSNS & IMF Public Affairs Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility

USS Michigan (SSGN 727) undocked at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility March 16, 2021, after more than a year and a half in Dry Dock 2, as it nears the end of its Extended Refit Period.

According to Melissa Kittrell, assistant project superintendent, Code 327, Operations Department Submarine Program, PSNS & IMF mechanics got to work on Michigan as soon as it was nested on Pier 6, May 22, 2019. They were able to begin relief valve testing and begin preparations to transition from ship’s systems to shore power, before it was moved into dry dock July 9.

Despite the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the project team was also able to complete some additional work that was originally scheduled for the next Major Maintenance Period, along with the work planned for the current ERP, said Kittrell. This work included preservation and repairs to the ship’s superstructure and the main ballast tanks.

The team also completed work on various hatches; work on the sail; the replacement of the ship battery; a shaft change out; work on the steering and diving systems; and work on the external hydraulic plant; among a variety of jobs on other systems and components, Kittrell said.

Since some of the work that was accomplished during this availability isn’t done often, there were lessons learned and documented that could help speed up the same jobs in the future.

“New work was added to completely disassemble and restore the Emergency Diesel Generator, which required extensive interference removals and clearing of rigging paths,” said Kittrell. “We learned a lot about the restoration of the Emergency Diesel Generator and will be passing these lessons on to the project teams who will be tasked with this intrusive repair on future availabilities. We also learned more about the sequencing of work in shaft alley that will help plan work strings and progress work in a more efficient manner.”

The COVID-19 pandemic also required the team to figure out workarounds, having fewer people available and with protective measures implemented that impacted various jobs.

“We asked a lot of the supervisors and crews who stayed during the initial stages of the pandemic,” said Kittrell. “They were able to handle the workload and the heavy burden of carrying the project with a limited workforce available. We were really able to depend on our team of supervisors, mechanics, engineers and support trades who were left to carry the load.”

Despite the extra work being added to availability and all the challenges brought about because of COVID-19, the team came together and rose to the challenge.

“Even when the schedule was compressed, I witnessed our team demonstrating our Command Guiding Principles daily, using teamwork, ingenuity, excellence and service,” said Kittrell. “Their dedication is what has got us to this pinnacle key event, which is one step closer to sending this mighty warship back to the Pacific Fleet.” 

To learn more about the history of the ship, go to