NIMITZ LEAVES DRY DOCK, ARRIVES AT PIER "D"
By MC3 Class Ian A. Cotter
After more than ten months out of the water, USS Nimitz (CVN 68) steamed out of Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility’s Dry Dock 6 Sept. 29, after completing the majority of its Docking Planned Incremental Availability (DPIA).
In preparation for the ship’s move, the crew messing and berthing barge was transported to Naval Base Kitsap Bremerton’s Pier ‘D’ Sept. 28. “The barge will still be operational at Pier ‘D’ until all of the services on the ship are restored,” said Master Chief Hospital Corpsman Joseph R. Burds, the barge’s leading chief petty officer. “Once steam, hot water and electricity are up and running, the crew will move back aboard Nimitz.”
After moving to Pier ‘D,’ work aboard Nimitz will continue as DPIA comes to a close. “We’re not done yet,” said Lt. Cmdr. Chuck O. Jones, the ship’s maintenance manager and assistant DPIA coordinator.
“The majority of the big industrial
work is complete. After we get to the pier, we’ll be restoring the ship back to operational status.”
Most divisions aboard only have about ten percent of their workload left to complete. “Normally an availability is 15 months long with eight to ten years in between,” said Jones. “But because other ships are also scheduled for dry dock time relatively soon, the availability was shortened to about a year.”
While in the dry dock, Nimitz received numerous refurbishments and upgrades. Some of the new upgrades consisted of a newer, more efficient Local Area Network system, two new sponsons welded on intended to hold close in weapons systems (CIWS), 15 new industrial dryers and one new industrial washer.
Moving the ship out of the dry dock is a very complicated process. Nimitz’ bridge was filled with personnel and watchstanders ensuring the ship
moved safely out of Dry Dock 6 and over to Pier ‘D.’
“It was pretty complex, because there were so many watchstanders on the bridge,” said Quartermaster 2nd Class Brittany N. Addair, one of Navigation department’s watchstanders during the ship’s transit. “Actually pulling out was the most complicated part of the process. We needed GPS and visual fixes to know where we were at all times so we didn’t hit anything.”
Nimitz was assisted by a series of tugboats during its transit out of the dry dock and over to the pier. The tugs are especially important pulling out of the dry dock because they can maneuver the ship in ways that the ship itself can’t.
Since Nimitz entered the dry dock, Navigation department hasn’t been able to exercise their regular duties. “It was a refresher for most of us and abig change for the new guys,” said Addair. “The tugs helped pull us out
and turn us. I’m just ready to get out of the dry dock and work on becoming operational again.”
“I spent a lot of DPIA grinding store rooms, painting decks, and preparing spaces for going underway,” said Culinary Specialist Seaman Garrett L. Davis, one of the many members of the S-2 division’s tiger team who worked around the clock to grind, paint, and restore many areas around the ship.
“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. I learned a lot and I feel that the work we’ve done really fits into the big picture of being in the yards.”
While at Pier ‘D,’ Nimitz will begin to prepare to become operational and go underway again. “As more and more areas become completed on board, we’ll have to clean up and make the ship look like a naval warship again,” said Jones.
“As DPIA comes to a close, we’ll transfer from a maintenance period to a training period. Each division will train on how to conduct underway operations and test equipment. Eventually we’ll conduct dock trials, a fast cruise and finally sea trials,” said Jones.