The U.S. Navy Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) arrived at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) July 7 for an Extended Carrier Incremental Availability (eCIA).
Truman, which recently returned a seven-month deployment, now joins her sister ship USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) as the second carrier on the NNSY waterfront. This is the first time two carriers will share a single pier at NNSY. The Bush will undock later this summer to complete the last leg of its availability.
The Truman project team got an early start at Naval Station Norfolk for several weeks prior to the carrier’s arrival at NNSY, offloading the air wing, moving trailers onboard, performing shipchecks, and making access cuts. The project team, and NNSY as a whole, have worked through resource issues in recent months due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“We are actually developing lessons learned from a situation that has never been seen before,” according to Deputy Project Superintendent Lt. Nic Twisselman. “The project team has been extremely flexible and resilient. We have seen numerous changes over a very short period of time and everyone has worked diligently and steadfast to ensure that NNSY supports Truman and the Fleet, especially taking into account that Truman just returned from a deployment of seven months.”
The Truman project team will benefit from a Surge Maintenance (SurgeMain) mobilization effort across all four of the nation’s public shipyards. NNSY is welcoming approximately 140 reserve Sailors this month to eventually culminate in more than 480 reservists supporting work on a variety of NNSY projects through September 2021. Established in 2005, SurgeMain has 2,200 enlisted Reserve Sailors and 240 Reserve officers across 75 units, created to augment the Navy’s organic civilian shipyard workforce in times of need.
Capt. Michael P. MacLellan, SurgeMain’s national director, said the 480-plus Sailors that will support NNSY have the knowledge and skills to hit the deckplates ready to turn wrenches to deliver critical assets like Truman back to the Fleet.
“Our Sailors are electricians, pipefitters, sheet metal workers, plumbers, hydraulic technicians, mechanics, machinists, carpenters, welders and more,” he said. “Many of our people have prior experience at the shipyard where they’re being sent, right down to the specific shop where they will be working alongside the shipyard’s organic civilian workforce.”
Last month, NNSY returned to full operations welcoming back all members of its civilian workforce who were on Weather and Safety (Administrative) Leave due to COVID-19 concerns. In addition to vital work on Truman, NNSY has a number of other critical deliverables on the horizon, including completion of USS Wyoming (SSBN 742)’s Engineered Refueling Overhaul (ERO), and undocking both Bush and USS San Francisco (SSN 711), with the latter undergoing conversion into a Moored Training Ship to train the next generations of fleet operators.
In response to COVID-19 concerns, NNSY has safeguarded employee safety and health through enhanced screening at exterior gates to include temperature checks, regular disinfecting of common and high-touch areas, establishment of handwashing and hand sanitizer stations, practicing physical distancing and mandatory wearing of face coverings.
Given the Truman was in a mobile COVID-free bubble at sea, Twisselman said, “We have brought our lessons learned and the practices we have been adhering to here at NNSY to the crew of the Truman that was out at sea and only recently were fully indoctrinated into the COVID way of life.”
“It was just a few weeks ago that the ship made history performing exercises with USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), marking the first time a Ford-class and Nimitz-class carrier were together at sea,” said Shipyard Commander, Captain Kai Torkelson. “Now that the Truman is out of its bubble at sea, we welcome them into the bubble of America’s Shipyard, where we all stand united in minimizing the spread while maximizing the mission working these next several months providing superior quality and reliable delivery!”