Southwest Regional Maintenance Center (SWRMC) divers conducted a historic diving operation on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) in early September, successfully executing the first ever intermediate waterborne bearing replacement.
Months after returning from deployment, the shafts responsible for propelling the Roosevelt were identified as needing maintenance ahead of quickly approaching carrier qualifications.
Faced with time constraints and limited teaming options impacted by coronavirus precautions, SWRMC leadership quickly developed a risk mitigation plan, which required the collaboration of four different organizations to execute the emergent work items.
With the assistance of Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS), U.S. Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV) and Navy Experimental Diving Unit (NEDU), the SWRMC dive team conducted an inspection of the main bearings onboard Roosevelt to finalize the scope of work. With only 21 days to complete the repairs, the team worked expeditiously to complete the first ever intermediate bearing replacement while waterborne, marking only the fourth time main bearings were replaced on a carrier while pier side.
"This successful teaming effort, even with the needed precautions due to coronavirus, showcases SWRMC's superior support of the fleet and the warfighter," said Capt. David Hart, SWRMC's commanding officer. "The ability to work together toward a shared vision to meet the mission exemplifies SWRMC's promise to be an organization the Navy can depend on."
Experienced divers were mobilized from both PSNS and SUPSALV to assist in providing vital knowledge on the main bearing procedure. SUPSALV also provided the unique bearing replacement equipment from its Emergency Ship Salvage Material Program and provided technical representatives onsite to oversee the welding operations. Engineers at SUPSALV also rapidly developed the procedure for the intermediate bearing replacement.
Both teams worked simultaneously on the shaft repairs. Once the divers were submerged the ground teams worked carefully on rigging the equipment which ranged from thousands of pounds to over 100,000 pounds - keeping the safety of everyone involved as the highest priority.
Overcoming challenges that arose during the repair, the combined dive teams worked around the clock and were able to return a national asset back to the fleet eight days early.
SWRMC is meeting its mission to provide superior ship maintenance, modernization, technical support, and training for the Pacific Fleet.