Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit Two (MDSU2) and Naval Sea Systems Command activities took part in a battle damage repair exercise on the ex-USS Boone (FFG-28) to test their emergent repair capabilities March 22- 29 while underway in the Atlantic and at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story (JBL) in Virginia Beach.
The exercise simulated real battle damage to the ex-Boone using controlled static detonations while the ship was being towed from Philadelphia. This allowed the Navy to practice battle damage assessment and repair responses similar to a real world scenario.
“Battle damage assessment and repair is supported by a wide range of organizations. This event tied every piece of that overall continuum together,” said Cmdr. Taylor South, MDSU 2 salvage engineer.
MDSU2 embarked on ex-Boone while the ship was under tow and responded to the static detonations simulating battle damage. They practiced key skills for battle damage assessment and repair to a ship needing additional support to continue the mission or get back to port for repairs, such as cutting, welding, and pumping.
“MDSU2 provided initial response for assessment, triage, and handoff,” South added. “It allowed the team to actually do things on a Naval vessel. We were actually reaching back to the Incident Response Center, who was also feeding information to Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC). They would send us questions so they could prepare their repair efforts.”
Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Carderock Division engineers were also instrumental in helping to keep all participants safe.
Leading up to the event, Carderock engineers designed a training exercise for the MDSU2 team, which included specifying the size and location of the explosives placed on the ship to maximize realism while maintaining safe levels of damage, as well as Navy stability requirements.
"We worked closely with MDSU2 to develop a blast event that would provide a suitable level of damage for training purposes without risking the platform or causing significant structural damage," said Dr. Ken Nahshon, the Carderock engineer who was on site during the exercise and was responsible for weapons effects, ship structure and stability..
This was accomplished using Carderock-developed software tools for analyzing weapons effects and stability. In addition, Carderock’s Douglas Griggs designed, installed and operated the Satellite Telemetry Event Relay System (STERS), a novel fire and flood sensor monitoring system, to provide real-time hull monitoring data during tow and weapons events. This system was able to communicate by satellite, ensuring that unexpected fire or flooding could be quickly identified.
Part of the process was preparing to tow the ship from Philadelphia to Little Creek-Fort Story. Carderock’s Michael Kipp designed the plan to ballast for tow, as well as providing stability analysis of the damaged ship after the explosives were detonated. His inputs allowed MDSU2 the pumping training they needed with simulated flooding.
Using cutting-edge 3D Light Detection and Ranging technologies, engineers from Carderock, Naval Information Warfare Center , Pacific; NSWC Philadelphia Division and NSWC Port Hueneme Division, collected laser scans of the ship before and after the event. The scans are processed into a photo-realistic 3D model that represents a millimeter accurate digital twin of the damaged ship. This will help to inform future real-life incidents by allowing ship’s crew to quickly determine what repairs are needed based on damaged systems, components and structures.
Once the ship arrived at Little Creek, MDSU2 turned custody of the ship over to MARMC for the repair damage assessment. MARMC, using their divers, engineers and fire safety teams, conducted the assessment, formulated repair recommendations and worked plans on how repairs would be executed.
“We are excited to use this event to refine our battle damage repair strategies,” said MARMC Commanding Officer Capt. Tim Barney. “This opportunity to work with our fleet partners to strengthen our skills highlights the flexibility of our surface ship maintenance capability and capacity.”
The event was an example of the Navy forecasting and planning a way ahead if it were to encounter unforeseen battle damage during wartime.
“With the Navy’ focus on readiness, exercises like these are beneficial for our Fire Response Team and Maintenance Teams,” said MARMC Safety Department Head Frank Walker. “We need to ensure that we have the tools to make repairs anytime and anywhere.”