By Rear Adm. Bruce Lindsey
Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic
This week, Naval Station Norfolk welcomed USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) back to the waterfront, early. Truman returned Tuesday, two days ahead of schedule from her Planned Incremental Availability (PIA) at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) after a very successful five days of underway evolutions during Sea Trials.
For Truman’s crew and her shipyard partners, the conclusion of this maintenance period signifies the completion of 10 months of teambuilding, hard work and coordination between workforces, ultimately making the ship better today than it was when it first arrived in the yards back in September 2016.
A new pier, hundreds of additional craftsmen and efforts in modernization of shipyard equipment at NNSY have vastly contributed to the efficiency of work performed by shipyard personnel. Investments made by NNSY in more technologically advanced machinery have improved the shipyard’s productivity factor by reducing numerous job completion times from days to mere hours. For example, new, fully automated pipe-bending and gasket-cutting machines have greatly cut-down repair timelines and helped to contribute to Truman’s early completion of her scheduled maintenance.
Completing PIA early, however, was just the first step in preparing Truman for future operations. Sea Trials tested the ability of the crew and ship to operate at sea and both performed beyond expectations. During the five-day underway period, the CVN-75 team conducted more than 300 hours of shipboard evolutions including: small boat recoveries, testing Aqueous Film-Forming Foam sprinkler systems, making high speed turns, running its steam catapults, and holding a simulated replenishment-at-sea alongside USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE 13).
These accomplishments are of staggering importance, not just for the crew aboard Truman, but for the Navy as a whole. It is yet another success story in our implementation of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP). Having the maintenance availabilities of our carriers completed early ensures our forces get the maximum training repetitions and sets (Reps and Sets) necessary to enable our carrier strike groups to be fully combat ready to deploy on time.
Truman’s early completion of its maintenance availability and its successful performance during sea trials means that this capital warship is one step closer to doing what carriers do: conducting prompt and sustained combat operations from the sea. This isn’t just a win for Truman. It’s a win for our Navy and a win for our country. It means our carrier force, and our fleet as a whole, is more ready to deliver sea control and combat striking power anywhere, anytime our nation requires us to do so.
When you look at our waterfront today, you can’t help but see the present and future represented by our carrier fleet. For the present, look at USS Abraham Lincoln, that spent the last four years completing her midlife refueling and is now back in the fleet and training for deployment. USS Dwight D. Eisenhower has been the workhorse of the waterfront since returning, Dec. 31, 2016, from her combat deployment, keeping our carrier pilots current by launching and recovering thousands of aircraft throughout her seven-month sustainment phase. The future can be seen in the form of USS Gerald R. Ford, our newest and most technologically advanced carrier as well as USS George Washington, which is ready to begin her midlife refueling this August.
With USS George H. W. Bush wrapping up an extremely successful combat deployment that supported the liberation of Mosul, our carriers continue to demonstrate the maneuverability, adaptability and strength of the United States Navy. And with Truman’s early return to the waterfront, our Navy will continue to protect America’s prosperity and security far from our Nation’s shorelines and face the future with the same pride and determination that we have displayed since Congress approved the construction of our first six frigates.