NEWS | April 29, 2021

Experience paying off for Louisville-Olympia project team

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

The efforts of the experienced project team managing the simultaneous inactivation of Los Angeles-class submarines Ex-USS Olympia (SSN 717) and Ex-USS Louisville (SSN 724) at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility have resulted in both projects currently running about four months ahead of schedule.

According to Cmdr. Jack Tappe, project superintendent, lessons learned from previous Los Angeles-class inactivations, and doing as much work as possible pier side before moving the submarines into Dry Dock 5 in July, 2020 are key contributors in the advanced progress thus far.

“Louisville and Olympia are the seventh and eighth SSN 688-class inactivations at PSNS & IMF. The team is very good at what they do,” said Tappe. “We took advantage of the waterborne period to get as much work done there so we could also speed up the dry dock portion of the availability. When possible, the ship’s force also got involved and provided us with crew members to integrate with the shipyard personnel. We also assigned many removals directly to the ships’ crews.”

Tappe said hard work and communication among all the inactivation stake holders allowed PSNS & IMF to get started on critical path work well before the docking date, and to dock the submarines a month earlier than expected.

“Communicate, communicate, communicate,” Tappe said. “The defuelers, the Code 2340 (Nuclear Test Engineering Division) team, the Code 246 (Test and Work Control Engineering) team, the ships’ crews, the rest of the project team, and most importantly, the PSNS & IMF workforce, communicate almost non-stop.

“We are very close with our refueling engineers, the nuclear and non-nuclear technical codes, and our test houses, which help facilitate many wins,” he said. “Our test houses are always looking ahead to minimize the impact of hand-offs when in shift work, and making sure we are looking ahead at our next steps.”

Tappe said Code 740 Lifting and Handling teams constantly moved cranes around the dry dock to ensure the cranes were used efficiently to handle all component removals, as well as critical defueling operations. The ship crews also watched each other conduct evolutions and used these opportunities to facilitate real-time lessons learned. All of these actions enabled the entire team to accelerate the production schedules once the boats were in dry dock.

Lessons-learned from Louisville’s and Olympia’s inactivations are also preparing PSNS & IMF for future submarine inactivations.

Since PSNS & IMF is the only Navy facility that recycles and disposes of submarines, workers can expect to spend decades retiring attack submarines, guided-missile submarines, and eventually Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines as they are replaced by Columbia-class submarines. Tappe said PSNS & IMF project teams and production workforce members currently handling Los Angeles-class submarine inactivations are becoming very experienced at finding time and cost savings.

“With the lessons learned from Louisville and Olympia inactivations, the shipyard was also able to significantly accelerate the next two inactivations, USS Bremerton (SSN 698) and USS Jacksonville (SSN 699),” Tappe said. “We have also enabled the shipyard to conduct another dual-pack inactivation for USS Providence (SSN 719) and USS Oklahoma City (SSN 723), which is being planned now. These are significant wins for the shipyard and the Navy.”

Doing both inactivations concurrently helps the team maximize performance.

“The ‘dual-pack’ is the right way to go,” said Tappe, referring to inactivating two ships concurrently, in the same dry dock. “We can accomplish two inactivations at almost the same time as a single inactivation. That’s a significant cost savings.”

Both Olympia and Louisville arrived in Bremerton in October 2019. Olympia was decommissioned Feb. 5, 2021, and Louisville was decommissioned March 9, 2021.

Commissioned Nov. 17, 1984, Olympia was the second U.S. Navy vessel to be named for the city of Olympia, Washington. The boat’s mission was to seek out and destroy enemy ships and submarines, and to protect U.S. national interests. At 360-feet long and 6,900 tons, Olympia could be armed with MK48 advanced capability torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Commissioned Nov. 8, 1986, Louisville was the fourth U.S. Navy vessel to be named for the city of Louisville, Kentucky. The boat’s mission was to seek out and destroy enemy ships and submarines, and to protect national interests. At 360-feet long and 6,900 tons, Louisville could be armed with MK-48 advanced capability torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles.