October 30, 2019 – USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) successfully completed sea trials and her Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) availability Oct. 24, one day ahead of schedule, despite the project losing two weeks in September due to Hurricane Dorian.
“Planning and teamwork were instrumental,” said Capt. John Lobuono, Southeast Regional Maintenance Center (SERMC) commanding officer. “All the stakeholders, including our industry partners BAE Systems and Jacksonville Ship Repair, came together right after the contract was awarded, and their continuous dialogue and teamwork allowed the team to resolve issues quickly and maintain the planned schedule.”
“Before the avail even started we had the crew moved off the ship, the barge tied up and the network migrated, so when day one hit we had no interferences and were able to hit it hard,” said Rob Williams, project manager for The Sullivans at SERMC.
The five-month availability included 110 depot and numerous intermediate level work items, including a major Vertical Launch System cooling upgrade, Ballistic Missile Defense package installation, Consolidated Afloat Network and Enterprise Services communications upgrade and several major structural improvements.
“We replaced both forward fuel stations, rebuilt the sliding pad eye on the starboard side, installed all new lube oil hoses for the engines and completely rebuilt the slewing arm davit. Another major project was all new structural work on the castleways on the port and starboard sides. We blasted, repaired all the metal, repainted it, installed new actuators and cargo doors, it’s completely revamped,” Williams added.
The SERMC Maintenance Team (MT) applied lessons learned from similar CNO availabilities to increase the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the team.
“On USS Lassen (DDG 82) and USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) we replaced the entire overhead above the bridge, it’s all new steel. We had a lot of data and experience from the removal of the topside equipment and their remounting, which definitely helped us complete the evolution on The Sullivans without incident,” said Lt. Joshua Bowling, USS The Sullivans project officer.
“A key to success with The Sullivans availability was providing our CNO MT with the agility and flexibility to rapidly keep work moving. The success of maintaining a schedule is to keep the mechanic working – that needs to be the focus. The Fleet needs war ready ships and we need to provide the financial and contracting tools to foster the uninterrupted flow of work,” said Lobuono.
The SERMC MT was also able to accelerate the time required to approve work package changes through a new contractual process that allows for expedited approval by having pre-negotiated prices. “Our Request for Contract Change cycle time was five days when averages on other availabilities are typically much longer. This contracting improvement will help us significantly on future availabilities as it allows us to keep our focus on completing the work on the deckplate, saving valuable time and energy,” Williams said.
“The focus on the mission and culture of collaboration between the government project team, private industry partners and ship’s force was a key factor in addressing and overcoming a number of challenges that came up during the availability,” said Williams. “[This] allowed the team to complete highly successful and on time sea trials and to deliver the mission-ready ship back to the fleet one day early and on budget.”
The Sullivans is named in honor of five brothers from Waterloo, Iowa who served together aboard USS Juneau during World War II. The Sullivan brothers – George, Francis, Joseph, Madison, and Albert, lost their lives during the Battle of Guadalcanal on Nov. 13, 1942. The ship is the second U.S. warship to be named in honor of the brothers.