Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center’s (MARMC) Dive Team has completed an underwater hub replacement on USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) at Naval Station Norfolk.
The repair was completed two weeks faster than ever previously performed.
Hub replacements are depot-level repairs typically conducted in dry-dock. However, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with the assistance of Rolls Royce, Emergency Ship Salvage Material (ESSM) and Norfolk Port Operations, completed the job waterborne in just 23 days.
“Waterborne hub replacements are very complex operations, and we don’t do them often,” said capt. Jay Young, NAVSEA supervisor of Salvage and Diving and director of Ocean Engineering. “Our combined team in Norfolk worked tirelessly over the three weeks to develop and execute the plan. To put this success in perspective, our team completed the hub replacement in 23 days – 14 days ahead of the 37 day schedule, which was based on the last time that the Navy has accomplished a waterborne hub replacement, in 2014.”
MARMC’s Charlie and Echo dive teams removed all five propellers, then installed a cofferdam, which allowed them to work underwater in a dry environment to remove the old hub and install the new one.
“Underwater hub replacement was more challenging, but was our only way to keep Churchill on schedule,” said MARMC commanding officer capt. Tim Barney. “Capabilities like this are what make MARMC so crucial to maintaining the fleet’s operational readiness.”
“This was the largest scope and technically challenging waterborne repair that we can conduct,” said MARMC diving officer, chief warrant officer 3 Don Schappert. “The job is hard enough without adding in mitigations for COVID-19, like social distancing, rotating divers and sanitizing all surfaces.”
“We can do these jobs, and we’ve done them before,” added diver Bryan Edwards. “It is a huge opportunity, for our younger divers to get experience and improve MARMC and the Navy’s repair capability.”
This is only the third time MARMC has completed an underwater hub replacement.
“The Navy needs this ship, and leadership was very interested in seeing how we performed,” said Barney. “MARMC established new a baseline that could change the way the Navy approaches hub repairs. The performance of our divers and the entire USS Winston Churchill team is a testament to not just their talent, but also a willingness to embrace challenge and perform when the Navy needs it most.”
MARMC provides surface ship maintenance, management and oversight of private sector maintenance and fleet technical assistance to ships in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States and provides support to the 5th and 6th Fleet Area of Responsibilities. They are also responsible for the floating dry-dock Dynamic (AFDL-6).