Fleet Readiness Center Southwest’s (FRCSW) Voyage Repair Team (VRT) is staffed by approximately 30 artisans who handle the maintenance, modifications and repairs to the flight decks of aircraft carriers assigned to or visiting Naval Air Station North Island (NASNI).
VRT artisans also deploy to carriers throughout the world in response to fleet Casualty Reports (CASREP) that require depot-level attention to ensure the continued safety and success of naval missions.
But the VRT’s expertise is not strictly limited to requests by the Navy. The nation’s Coast Guard is also a customer.
“United States Coast Guard (USCG) representatives requested VRT to repair two of their cutters in late December 2021. Both sustained equipment malfunctions to helicopter hangar doors during routine operations by ships force at sea,” said Jeff Scarano, VRT deputy program manager.
By February 11, four VRT artisans had reported to the USCG Base in Portsmouth, Va., to assess and begin work on the 270-foot medium endurance cutters USCGC Escanaba (WMEC-907) and USCGC Forward (WMEC-911).
Team lead electrician Kenny Mawalin was joined by rigger Pat Hayes and mechanics Randall Atterberry and Edwin Rodriguez who will work on the ships simultaneously through different phases of the repairs.
Scarano said that the damage to the helicopter hangar doors was caused not only by usual mechanical wear, but also by the repeated exposure to the harsh environment at sea, resulting in corrosion to the door components.
Estimated repair costs are approximately $100,000 per ship.
“The most difficult part is repairing the interlocking port and starboard systems and hangar door manual drive system on the spot, cross country from our shops. Artisans must be able to troubleshoot and repair components without having seen them first, and without the resources available to them as they would have here at FRCSW,” he said.
When the work is complete in about two weeks, Scarano said that USCG Ships Force will assist with the operational testing of all equipment, and that the ship’s leadership or the engineering officer will accept and sign off on the work.
FRCSW’s VRT artisans repair at least one USCG vessel monthly. The next scheduled repair is in March to the USCG Legare (WMEC-912), also homeported at USCG Base Portsmouth.
“The VRT is the go-to program for the USCG due to our ability to travel quickly on short notice, remain flexible with changing in-port schedules, employing a diverse group of trades and providing professional, quality repairs with proven results,” Scarano said.