NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD, Portsmouth, Va. –
“We are the artists of the shipyard,” said Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s (NNSY) Welding Shop (Code 920) Submarine Director Tracy Skinner when asked to describe Shop 26.
The shop provides welding services that consist of but are not limited to hull cuts, piping systems, shafts, pressure vessel pumps, and machinery on the projects. “We safely and effectively provide a service under cost that gives the fleet the necessary assets to go perform its mission, duty and tasks,” said Code 920’s Nuclear Welding Director Melvin Myers.
Although NNSY itself primarily works on submarines and aircraft carriers, this isn’t the case for Shop 26. “We send welders all over the world to help support fly-away teams,” said Code 920 Surface Craft Director Jeff Griffin. “We work on amphibious assault ships, destroyers, frigates as well as carriers and submarines that are at Naval Station Norfolk and deployed overseas.”
Like any other shop or code in the shipyard, Shop 26 has its share of challenges. “Not all obstacles can be removed in order to get to the welding spot easily,” said Shop 26 Pipe Welder Todd Scott. “This is where we have to be innovative and proficient, using mirrors to see what we’re welding.”
“This is where ‘One Mission - One Team’ comes into play,” said Shop 26 Pipe Welder Jeffery Hamlin. “We help each other out even if it’s something like putting down the face shield for someone or handing them tools - and it doesn’t stop there. We work with other shops to complete the mission. If we didn’t all work together, the job wouldn’t get done.”
Shop 26 has had some recent wins. Myers said, “The Nuclear Welding Program here at NNSY performed four times more radiographic testing welds than the other three shipyards combined and our rejected rate was still three percent lower than the other shipyards combined. This is a significant win for us.”
Skinner added, “We snowballed on the USS San Francisco (SSN 711), which means we conducted 700 square inches of welds with zero defects.”
In the past two years, Code 920 developed advanced welding courses and built shipboard mockups for both basic and advanced welders to practice, train and improve their skills for any welding job that Shop 26 has to perform.
“We have taken steps to make made us a stronger shop in the long run,” said Myers. “When there is a problem, we consider it a collective problem and we work together as a team to resolve it. The entire shop benefits from it.”
Shop 26 Pipe Welder Matthew Elliot said, “I enjoy being a welder and what I do, there is no greater gratitude than to see something you built with your own hands being used to make our country stronger.”