Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Essex Wraps Successful SRA

SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- Amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) finished its Selected Restricted Availability period Oct. 10.

Essex's summer-long SRA improved operational readiness in every department on the ship.

“It was an absolute success,” said SRA Administrative Assistant Lt. John P. Richerson. “This yard period gave us the time we needed to overhaul a number of key systems and make some quality of life upgrades to the crew’s accommodations.”

Some of the major work included several hardware and software upgrades to Essex’s combat systems, a complete resurfacing of the flight deck, replacement of the wood planking in the well deck, repairs to the air conditioning units, crew berthing refurbishing and the installation of the Navy Cash Card system throughout the ship.

Contractors and SRA personnel were not the only ones working diligently to complete the repairs. Essex Sailors worked long hours cleaning and preserving spaces to improve the materiel readiness of the ship. Engineering personnel worked day and night in the main spaces to ensure the success of an all important Light Off Assessment (LOA).

LOA, a major check of the ship’s engineering plant, is a thorough demonstration of everything the ship needs to get underway, from main engines to evaporators, as well as the ship’s ability to fight a main space fire.

“The overall success of the assessment is one more example of the hard work and devotion Essex Sailors display as they perform their jobs,” said Damage Control Assistant Lt. Cmdr. Chris Van Avery.

Essex’s forward-deployed status creates a high level of operational commitments, which is why the command took this SRA as an opportunity to send their Sailors to school.

“The 11 week [SRA] provided Essex the opportunity to raise our operational excellence through NECs, schools and shipboard training,” said Essex Training Officer Lt. Cmdr. Dianne Quattrone. “At the completion of FY07, our school's percentage was the highest out of all LHDs, [at] 97 percent. That is a significant accomplishment for a forward deployed ship.”

Knowing that Essex would remain in port for an extended period of time enabled their school's coordinator and assistant school's coordinator, to send Sailors to stateside schools and plan for watch teams to attend stateside based trainers.

“We sent 536 Sailors to 88 schools,” said Quattrone.
Sea trials mark the beginning of a busy fall underway period for Essex Sailors. Now they have new combat systems to test, a new way to use money onboard and new racks to sleep in heading to Fall Patrol 2007. Essex Sailors will continue their mission of forward-deployed presence and engagement while getting familiar with all the new tools in their arsenal.