The U.S. Navy’s Blue Ridge-class command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) reached a major ship’s life milestone April 26 with the marking of their Propulsion Plant Production Completion Date (PCD) – the end of all major maintenance evaluations following a 23-month drydock and pierside upkeep period.
PCD is accomplished when a ship is considered safe-to-train and safe-to-operate, meaning all jobs related to Selective Restrictive Availability (SRA) are completed. The labor-intensive maintenance availability was vital to sustain the material condition of the ship once it returns to sea.
The completion milestone marked the end of a historic modernization for the Navy’s oldest deployable warship.
“Our success in reaching PCD is a testament to the hard work of the Ship’s Repair Force and the crew, and really highlights the incredible teamwork it took to get here. It has been 23 months since we started this availability, making it the longest in Blue Ridge’s history,” said Capt. Brett Crozier, Blue Ridge commanding officer. “But it was essential, as we extended the life of the ship another 20 years, meaning this will one day be a 70-year-old ship.”
Crozier said the SRA was an important step in making the ship ready for combat. Now, Blue Ridge will begin to prepare for light off assessment, followed by sea trials to ensure the ship has the capacity to rejoin the fleet as a fully-operational unit.
“Significant work was done completely rebuilding the boilers and associated equipment in the fire room and engine room, making this another major step we have been preparing and training for,” Crozier said. “So, this is not the finish line for us. There is still plenty of work to accomplish.”
Blue Ridge finished the scheduled SRA with costs totaling more than $60 million and approximately 135,000 crew hours of work completed. As a team, the Blue Ridge-SRA workforce completed more than 2,000 total jobs in this timeframe.
The availability has ensured one of the 7th Fleet’s most critical assets is now ready to resume service as a superior warfighting platform.
“I feel extreme satisfaction and gratification to know what we have accomplished as a team, as the Blue Ridge crew and together with SRF,” said Ship’s Maintenance Management Officer Ensign Samantha Westley. “It is an unexplainable happiness and pride when you see the ship come alive slowly and surely, one piece of equipment at a time, right before my eyes.”
With PCD finished, it is the Blue Ridge Sailors who are now excited to be at work, to operate their equipment, run drills and train to fight, according to Crozier.
“We’re kind of like a baseball team being able to finally take the field in a new ball park after months of practicing in the parking lot,” he said. “A lot more training and certification will be required before we are ready to cast off all lines, but I am confident that if we continue to work hard and take care of one another, we will all be smiling when we’re underway again.”
Blue Ridge commissioned Nov. 14, 1970, making it the oldest operational ship in the Navy. After 47 years in service, 7th Fleet Flagship is scheduled to stay in active service for another 20-plus years.
As command ship for U.S. Seventh Fleet, Blue Ridge has been forward deployed to the Yokosuka, Japan, area of responsibility for 38 years, patrolling and fostering relationships within the Indo-Asia Pacific region.