Amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) transits the Elizabeth River on her way to the Norfolk Naval Ship Yard, for a nine-month dry-dock phased maintenance availability. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Pedro A. Rodriguez
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Brian Anderson, USS Bataan Public
The multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) arrived at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard
(NNSY) in Portsmouth to begin a scheduled eight-month dry-docked phased maintenance availability (DPMA) Sept. 5.
Under the early morning sun, the 45,000-ton warship was guided or “deadsticked,” by the power of tugboats from her homeport of Naval Station Norfolk up the Elizabeth River to the NNSY, where she will remain until May 2008.
The 844-ft. Wasp-class ship will use dry dock No. 8 during her stay in the yards, making this the third time Bataan has entered an extended maintenance availability period since her christening in 1997.
“While in the yards, Bataan will receive upgrades and numerous overhauls to make it the best warfighting platform in her class,” said Bataan’s Repair Officer, Lt. Cmdr. David Wuestewald.
“One of the major jobs will be the fuel-oil stability modification. As fuel is consumed, sea water will take its place in the tanks, balancing the ship and creating a more stable platform for the aircraft that land on the flight deck. It is going to make us more mission-capable,” said Wuestewald.
A few select Sailors will be on Tiger Teams to assist with the repairs alongside contractors and shipyard workers.
“About one-tenth of the crew will be involved in improving the habitability of the ship,” said Wuestewald. “This includes painting and resurfacing decks, and upgrading the interior of the ship after the wear and tear Bataan has endured since the last yard period."
Safety will play a much bigger role now that the environment contains more moving parts and extra hazards.
“Several things make the shipyard environment much more dangerous than our normal pier-side configuration,” said Bataan’s Safety Officer Lt. Lawrence Behr. “We’ve had to adjust to a number of new potential safety hazards while in the dry dock, including fall and trip hazards and heat stress. The main thing for us all to remember is to use operational risk management and maintain situational awareness at all times.”
The maintenance availability follows a six-month regularly scheduled deployment Bataan completed in early July.