Capt. Ted E. Carter, left, commanding officer of USS Carl
Vinson, discussed the progress of the ship’s refueling
complex overhaul with Chief of Naval Operations Adm.
Gary Roughead during Roughead’s visit to Northrop
Grumman Newport News shipyard in January. The aircraft carrier is scheduled to begin sea trials in March after
its 40-month overhaul is complete.
environment,” said Capt. Steve Koehler, the carrier’s
executive officer. “Due to the length of the availability
and the invasiveness of the work, it has been a long time
since a lot of our Sailors have worked doing the job the
Navy has trained them to do. While we have maximized
training both locally and aboard other ships, there is still
a lot of production work done by our Sailors.”
“When Sailors join the Navy, they don’t necessarily
join to go into a complex overhaul,” said Carter. “So
getting the command climate right, getting our Sailors
to understand the team effort that’s here, [is critical].”
Importance of Teamwork
One of the major challenges for the carriers’ chief petty
officers, said Command Master Chief Glenn Mallo, is
“leading on the deckplates in an environment that is not
the normal operating environment for Sailors.”
Explaining to Sailors the importance of the RCOH
and the value of teamwork with the shipyard workers
was a key to successful leadership, he said.
“Over half of the crew is comprised of junior
Sailors. Because a majority of these Sailors belong to
the millennial generation, their understanding of the
‘whys’ enabled them to be more effective and efficient
on a personal basis,” Mallo said.
Carl Vinson sent Sailors on temporary duty to other
carriers to help them maintain their skills so they
would not have to start from scratch when the ship
While Northrop Grumman performed the bulk of the
overhaul, Carl Vinson’s crew took on many refurbishment
tasks. The crew overhauled more than 25 berthing compartments, from bare metal to decking, wiring, painting,
cabinets and lockers. The crew replaced more than 1,284
racks and 2,275 lockers, saving $1.2 million in labor costs.
The crew’s paint team painted more than 1,400 compartments, saving $5 million in labor costs. Tile and cable
removal also were performed by the crew. A find-it/fix-it
team took care of tasks that needed to be done on the spot.
The ship and shipyard formed habitability teams to
perform “grooming tasks,” checking a compartment to
see if it was indeed ready to live in or work in, complete
with functioning air conditioning, electricity, heat, hot
water and Internet connection.
The crew also formed a fire watch team about 18
months into the overhaul, saving approximately $10
million in labor costs without significantly altering the
Sailors’ work day.
“The Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department
took over another facility, called a ‘light industrial facility,’ where they did powder coating for new equipment,” Carter said. “They took almost every door off
every space in the ship and overhauled it.”
“This project is so massive that the entire crew is
involved,” Koehler said. “The entire availability has
been challenging and every department has stepped up
to ensure the whole ship works as a team to get all of
the required work done.”
“All of this together really is about bringing this
ship back to life as well as taking ownership of our
own aircraft carrier as soon as we can,” Carter said.
The ship’s leadership worked to “frontload the
crew’s work so that most of the production work was
done in the first three quarters [of the overall], so that
in the last quarter, the crew would be concentrating
much more on their own individual training so we
could bring the ship back to life,” he said.
For much of an overhaul, when the ship is stripped
down to bare metal, it is not habitable by the crew. A
floating accommodation facility is provided to house
some offices and support services, such as medical, dental and food service facilities, as well as sleeping quarters
for personnel who need to stay onboard the carrier.
The roughly 3,000 crew members were berthed all
over the Hampton Roads area, to such an extent that the
ship created a transportation department to move the
crew daily between berthing and the ship, a task that
required the ship to certify drivers for government vehicles. Carter said the ship’s vehicles logged more than 1
million miles during the first 33 months of the RCOH.
“We’ve had to be fairly inventive in terms of how we
[maintain] frequent contact with all of our Sailors between
senior management and leadership,” said Carter, who listed town hall-style meetings and leadership calls with satellite locations as two of the methods of communication.
Navy Region Mid-Atlantic, the parent command of
all Navy facilities in the region, provided support to