Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) looks like any other ship in a continuous maintenance availability, except that its port side is covered with enclosed scaffolding reaching almost half the ship’s length. This is a large scale ship’s force preservation effort to keep Lake Champlain operating and looking her best during extended sustainment phase operations. Lake Champlain returned from an eight-month Western Pacific deployment with Carrier Strike Group (CSG) One, February 14th.
Recognizing that large scale preservation was needed after a long deployment, the ship’s deck division took a self-sufficiency approach to preservation efforts for the ship’s freeboard.
Over the port side, the ship installed contained scaffolding and began work. The installation took about a week to finish. Since then, deck division took to the sides to chip, sand, and scrape off layers of paint on the port side. The scaffolding is more stable, permanent, and it’s more contained from the elements than just using a paint float to conduct preservation on the sides.
“Conducting proper preservation, especially of the hull, takes a lot of time,” said Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Nicholas Manantan, assigned to USS Lake Champlain. “With our demanding schedule on deployment and with that operational tempo continuing during the sustainment phase, this is the most time we have had in port to conduct this large-scale preservation work.”
To assist deck division, USS Lake Champlain has a team of Sailors whose entire focus is preservation. Preservation Team, or the “Pres Team” assist deck division in specific preservation projects all over the ship. The team was stood up on deployment and consists of Sailors from different departments across the ship. The TRIAD oversees the execution of the team’s work and assists in identifying areas that need attention to keep Lake Champlain looking and operating at its best.
Ships across the San Diego water front assisted Lake Champlain in their preservation efforts. Sailors across the pier from Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens (CG 63), a ship that remains in a ship’s life extension program and from the future Arleigh Burke-class Flight IIA guided-missile destroyer Carl M. Levin (DDG 120), had temporary additional duty (TAD) Sailors come to Lake Champlain to assist in working the preservation project.
“Sometimes in order to get things done we have to get creative in finding extra resources,” said Chief Boatswain’s Mate William Sanchez onboard Lake Champlain. “Having the correct tools, favorable weather conditions, containment, and manpower can make preservation an easy task, but not all of those are always available at the same time.”
Lake Champlain’s Commanding Officer, Capt. Steven Foley emphasized the importance of proper preservation to the crew of Lake Champlain since taking command in April 2021. “Rust never sleeps, so even with a busy schedule we make time to conduct proper preservation,” he said. “The scaffolding was a result of thinking outside the box on how we could tackle the preservation of this large an area in a limited amount of time and produce a quality result.”
Lake Champlain has been a workhorse in U.S. 3rd Fleet since returning from deployment in February. The crew has supported multiple evolutions from Scientists to Sea, deck landing qualifications, to SUMMEREX which kept the ship underway and operational. Balancing the demands of preservation with this tasking is no easy feat. Lake Champlain’s Sailors take pride in the way the ship looks and that pride can be seen throughout the deckplates.