By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Stephanie Smith
YOKOSUKA, Japan (Dec. 11, 2012) – The U.S. Navy’s USS George Washington (CVN 73) returned to its forward-operating location of Fleet Activities Yokosuka Nov. 20 after a six-month patrol of the 7th Fleet area of operations, and the ship accumulated a list of much needed repairs during this extended period at sea defending the collective maritime interests of the U.S. and its partners and allies in the Asia-Pacific region.
Feb. 9 marks the date for George Washington and its crew to begin its selective restricted availability (SRA), and while the date seems distant now, the crew’s pre-SRA period is vital to the success of George Washington’s in port period.
“SRA is an intense and time compressed period compared to the state-side repair availability,” said Chief Machinist’s Mate Ryan Helbick, lead chief petty officer for air conditioner, steam, heat and outside repair shop. “We also have to deal with tighter space controls due to being stationed overseas.”
SRA is a scheduled period set in place to allow U.S. Navy ships to make repairs or renovations that could not be completed during an underway period.
“Tags and work authorization forms (WAFs) are written prior to the start of SRA to provide temporary services to equipment placed all throughout the ship,” said Helbick. “We’re focusing on repairing systems that affect many different aspects of our mission and adequate comfort for the crews.”
The ship’s crew work alongside the Japanese nationals and U.S. contractors that also contribute to maintaining the ship’s integrity through SRA.
“Although we work with George Washington, we mostly do the technical part of the maintenance that is too dangerous for the ship’s crew to do and we provide that service for them,” said Pat Conley, carrier engineering maintenance assist team (CEMAT) project manager. “We work with the crew on many aspects of the ship’s air conditioners, laundry and other mechanical parts that require troubleshooting and repairs.”
Most U.S. aircraft carriers spend nine months or more in SRA period; however, the operational tempo of George Washington only allows six months for repairs that makes SRA an all-hands effort to prepare the ship for its next patrol.
“SRA can be both challenging and rewarding,” said Helbick. “The challenge of communication can sometimes be frustrating but it’s rewarding to learn from each other’s work ethics and processes.”
George Washington’s SRA period offers the crew the unique opportunity to broaden their training and knowledge through different culture and expertise.
“There are many U.S. contracted workers that are retired service members who love their job and wanted to keep doing it,” said Conley. “We are doing the same job but without the uniform. We do our jobs, but as retired chiefs, we also teach Sailors different techniques, troubleshooting ideas and pass knowledge to better perform for the SRA. We are here to provide the support that George Washington needs to complete its mission in Japan.”
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