Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Wyoming (SSBN-742) arrived at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) on January 9 for refueling and upgrades as part of a 27-month Engineered Refueling Overhaul (ERO).
In a first for the shipyard, Enlisted Women at Sea ship alterations will be performed on board, modifying the layout of berthing areas.
Other work will be similar to the shipyard's ERO currently being conducted on USS Rhode Island (SSBN-740), allowing the Wyoming project to leverage off experience gained during that overhaul project.
"Apples to apples, it's pretty much the same," said Project Superintendent John Walker
of the two EROs. "We're looking to get at least 70 percent of the employees who worked on the Rhode Island to roll over to the Wyoming."
The project team has already completed the Resource Constrained Schedule (RCS) 14 days early. This schedule provides an overarching integrated plan on the number of personnel needed to conduct work throughout the overhaul. "With the RCS, you're leveling the shipyard's resources across the whole 27-month availability. Now we don't have to focus on that as we move into the actual execution phase. It's a huge deal to get it done," Walker said.
Walker said the team has its sights on a new record for this ERO. In February 2017, Rhode Island finished refueling in 217 days, a mark that bested NNSY's former refueling record on USS Alaska's ERO, which completed its availability on schedule in March 2009. "We're scheduled to complete refueling in 213 days," Walker said. "It is both aggressive and achievable. We're taking the lessons learned from the Rhode Island and we're utilizing much of the same team."
Rhode Island also raised the bar with undocking two days early in July 2017.
Walker pointed out that sharing lessons learned is essential when it comes to setting new standards for Ohio-class EROs at NNSY. "I was there for most of that availability [as Deputy Project Superintendent] before I transitioned over to Wyoming, and I'm still in contact with that project team every single day."
Reflecting on the extensive overhaul that lays ahead, Walker said, "Everything we do is a challenge, but the ship is on our side and ready to help us out in achieving our goal. The captain is excited and motivated to make 27 months or less. For the shipyard, we have a lot of experience and knowledge moving into this project. I think we've got a winning team!"
Wyoming is one of the United States' most vital strategic assets, and combined with the other Ohio-class submarines, makes up one leg of the nuclear triad.
During a visit last year commending the Rhode Island team, Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program Director Admiral James F. Caldwell challenged the shipyard to continue pushing itself for even greater successes on EROs. "I want more of that," he said. "You have my incredible admiration and my greatest respect for the work you do. You are America's Shipyard because you fuel America