If you ask any Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard (PHNSY) worker (or anyone on the Pearl Harbor waterfront for that matter) about the chances of a submarine getting out of a shipyard maintenance availability early, most will tell you “not a chance”.
With our naval shipyards operating at or beyond capacity, getting a boat in and out of a drydock ahead of schedule is unheard of. There are just too many competing factors: fiscal constraints, manpower, aging submarine force, unscheduled dockings, crew constraints and other personnel factors. On top of all this, there are communication challenges between the shipyard and the crew. Because we don’t always speak the same language, expectations are not clearly understood and inefficiencies are introduced.
All this being said, I am happy to say that BREMERTON overcame the odds and did what no other boat has been able to do in the 100 year history of PHNSY; she completed her Docking Continuous Maintenance Availability (DCMAV) / Pre-Overseas Movement (POM1) 44 days ahead of schedule. During the availability, we not only replaced the shaft and extended her hull life but also accomplished over 970 additional jobs that have piled up over the last year due to BREMERTON’s operational schedule and “classic” nature.
Now I would love to take all the credit for my crew, but much of the credit is owed to BREMERTON’s fantastic shipyard project team, who were the key to obtaining for us the designation as PHNSY’s top priority for resources going in.
Based upon a recommendation from CDR Wes Bringham (the previous Commanding Officer), we specifically requested Mr. Vince Chong as our project supervisor. Vince had worked on BREMERTON the last time she was in the yards and was familiar with the boat and crew. Vince was fantastic – a real bulldog who knows the ins and outs of the shipyard and has over 30 years building relationships and trust.
Now don’t get me wrong, the crew performed superbly and without their extraordinary efforts, we would still be in dock. BREMERTON has a reputation of accomplishing the mission when the odds are stacked against them and the crew did not disappoint. In addition to completing the availability ahead of schedule, we sent 82 sailors to different schools around the country, took almost a year of leave (340 days), and had 10 Sailors get corrective eye surgery. I was also pleased advance 19 sailors to the next pay grade from the last exam; almost double the Navy’s overall advancement rate – Navy’s E6 advancement rate was 11%, BREMERTON advancement to E6 was 50%.
As I enter this log, BREMERTON is underway in the locals, at test depth, conducting retests required from the work we accomplished in shipyard. I am happy to report no emergency blows were required.
Monday afternoon we will pull back alongside and the crew will start a much needed holiday stand down, reacquaint with family and friends and prepare for an extremely challenging 2017 schedule. I am extremely proud of these men who continue to selflessly serve their nation.
Happy Holidays from the Officers and Crew of USS BREMERTON (SSN 698) – “The American Classic”.