USS Wasp on track for Japan homeport change

U.S. Navy’s amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) has reached a half-way point during its planned maintenance availability (PMA), the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC) said March 15.

Since the commencement of Wasp’s PMA in January, a considerable amount of work has gone into getting the ship to this point.

“I’m proud of where we are, but we still have a ways to go,” said MARMC (USS Wasp) project manager Bobby Pridgen. “We’re currently performing vent plenum work, feed heater repairs, extensive work to the No. 4 ship’s service turbine generator (SSTG), modifying for [F-35 Lightning II] Joint Strike Fighters (JSFs), and replacing all of the non-skid on the flight deck.”

Contractors found degraded metal on the vent plenum silencers’ brackets, as well as on the steel structures they mount to, so they had to renew the steel in order to keep the silencers operational. Silencers reduce the noise of the draft blower.

A major undertaking, in such a condensed schedule, is the resurfacing of Wasp’s flight deck.

“Generally we would have more time to resurface the flight deck, so we would only use one containment, going zone to zone,” said Pridgen. “There are two tents on the flight deck now, which is rare, because we had to condense the time in this availability. Typically, to complete an entire flight deck, it takes 134 days. We are doing an entire flight deck in 89 days on Wasp. Each tent encloses an area of 16,500 square feet, and we’ve already completed zones one, two, and five.”

Still to be completed is zone four, enclosed by a 12,000-square foot tent. Zone four is unique in that it contains Thermion, a coating system designed for landing and takeoff operations of the JSF. Without this heat-resistant coating protecting the deck of the ship, when the thrusters of the JSF turn down they would cook the deck.

“The JSF modification makes this availability unusual,” said Spence. “Six F-35 JSFs are already on site in Japan, and this vessel will be capable of supporting their operations in the Pacific. Although USS America (LHA 6) is configured for JSF, Wasp is the first amphibious assault ship going overseas.”

The Wasp Project Team continues to have a lot of work to do in a short time.

“The amount of work in our schedule makes this availability challenging,” said MARMC Ship Building Specialist Rodney Stitt. “There is a lot of work based on the timeframe. It is a typical work package, but on a condensed schedule because the ship is going to change homeport. No matter what, our objective is to get the job done correctly and as safely as possible.”

Once amphibious warship USS Wasp (LHD-1) becomes part of the U.S. 7th Fleet, it is scheduled to deploy as part of a new, improved, Expeditionary Strike Group that will combine a three-ship Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with a three ship guided-missile destroyer surface action group (SAG).