After getting underway Jan. 13 for the first time in nine months, USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) completed its maintenance period at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (IMF) ahead of schedule after successfully completing sea trials.
Over the Planned Incremental Availability (PIA), Lincoln underwent several upgrades, alterations and installments, culminating in thousands of man hours and millions of dollars in critical work that will ensure the ship is ready for her next two deployments.
According to Abe's Chief Engineer Cmdr. Bradford Bittle, of Des Moines, Iowa, Abe's first underway for sea trials served as the final exam for PIA to ensure everything worked properly.
Success of the $350-million overhaul can be attributed to the combined effort of Lincoln's Sailors, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and IMF, the Naval Supervising Authority, and Todd Pacific Shipyard; the multi ship, multi option private sector partner on the job.
Some of the bigger projects undertaken included a complete modification of hangar bay one, replacing all four of the ship's propellers, remodeling the media department and training spaces with advanced technology, upgrading the ship's computer systems, and modernizing the entire flight deck.
"A lot of work went into this yard period so that Lincoln could withstand two deployments before needing the next yard period," said Bittle.
Lincoln's longest modification this PIA was a remodel of the existing 02 level mezzanine in hangar bay one, which now provides a single platform, the Universal Aviation Mission Pod Ready Service (AMPRS) to accommodate the new H-60R/S Seahawk helicopters.
This modification removed five obsolete EA-6B Prowler Legacy Test Bench Installations, the ALQ-99 Weapons Repairable Assembly racks, and the entire existing mezzanine deck.
The installations, including a new deck with a grid of 7,000 deck anchor holes, will accommodate the storage of avionics equipment needed for the H-60R/S Lincoln will house when Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 is embarked.
"Before we had the AMPRS, ALQ-99 Weapons Repairable Assemblies were repaired in two separate work centers and then stored in the old mezzanine," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Cesar Astorga, Lincoln's Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department's avionics officer. "Now, they can all be repaired in one work center and stored in the AMPRS, which makes the process of serving the air wing more efficient."
Lincoln also upgraded to a new local area network (LAN), providing Sailors network reliability and user capacity unmatched on an aircraft carrier, along with new computers that connect faster and improve multi-tasking capabilities. The ship is the first aircraft carrier to be fully Common Access Card (CAC) enforced for user logins.
The new LAN replaces 1980s-style hardware to a much more efficient configuration using blade servers. Should a server fail, the blade server will allow Lincoln's Automated Data Processing (ADP) division to get it back up and running in a matter of minutes, where as it used to take between two to three hours.
Aside from reliability, approximately 1,215 users are able to log in to Lincoln's network making e-mail and Internet more accessible for Sailors on board.
Bittle said at the height of the maintenance period, there were more than 2,000 shipyard workers and contractors on board, completing a combined 320,000 man-days of work. Lincoln's crew also contributed 54,000 man-days in getting Lincoln back to full capability, in addition to simultaneously completing thousands of days of training.
Bittle said the ship's force set high expectations and met them during PIA, and that helped Lincoln and civilian contractors reach their goal.
"Our expectations were on-time delivery and 100% ready to fight, and we met those goals with flying colors," he said.
Much of the success of the shipyard period can be attributed to diligent planning, which began in 2008 during and upon return from an overseas deployment.
"The chief's mess and Lincoln Sailors created a good maintenance plan before hand, and when it came time to execute they were ready," Bittle said. "They did a great job planning all the work, and it made my job easier."
Bittle said because the ship accurately planned what work needed to be done, it was able to appropriately choose the teams of Sailors needed to complete the work on time.
According to Bittle, there were 11 teams of Sailors, called Tiger Teams, who worked various jobs on Lincoln to get the ship through PIA. Teams included a deck team, who tiled more than 120 decks; the habitability team, which overhauled 30 berthings and 11 heads; the paint team, which painted more than a tenth of the ship; and the cable team, who found and removed 130 potentially dangerous dead-end cables.
Other notable statistics from the nine month shipyard period, in addition to finishing on early, include a 50% reduction in alcohol-related incidents and a 25% reduction in safety mishaps compared to the last PIA.
"The ship is in much better material condition now than it was before we were in the yards," said Bittle. "Now we can begin to exercise all our training teams, watch standers, engineering and weapons systems so we can integrate into a full Strike Group."
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