NAVSEA’s Portsmouth Nava
l Shipyard teaming with General Dynamics Electric Boat (EB) is ahead of schedule this year on one of the Navy’s most challenging projects, the USS Memphis (SSN 691) Selected Restricted Availability (SRA). This availability is different than most, particularly in the manner in which the work is being accomplished.
A partnership of EB and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNS) workers is doing the work on Memphis while it is at EB. Leading the combined team of submarine maintenance experts is Robert M. Fortier
, a 27-year PNS veteran.According to Fortier, the Memphis Project Team has some of the best people the two shipyards have to offer. “I have stood in utter amazement watching these craftsmen work in harmony,” he said. “They’re taking apart and working on large components that were never designed to come apart-it’s remarkable!”The support from everyone involved in the SRA has been tremendous, according to Fortier. Even last-minute requests in the sometimes unpredictable business of submarine maintenance have been met with both vigor and professionalism. While Fortier believes the PNS-EB team is extremely capable, he credits the ‘bus driver’ of the project-his Assistant Project Superintendent, Richard R. Blouin
, also from PNS-with leading the team to excellence. “Dick is a true leader; and even in the face of nearly impossible tasks, he keeps the focus on the overall project. His energy and experience are unmatched.”This is the first time a PNS team has worked on an SRA with EB folks in an EB drydock. Before the start of the project, the two shipyards met and came to an understanding of how work would be accomplished. “It’s great to have a PNS team working at our facility,” said Stephen LeBlanc, 25-year EB pipefitter. “This is my sixth time working with our friends from Portsmouth and I’ve always had a good experience. They are very cooperative, know the meaning of teamwork, and always appreciate my work. We’d work with them anytime!”Fortier noted that everyone in the submarine community is watching this work. “We’re going to undock this boat early,” he promised. “And everyone will say ‘That was the most technically difficult SRA the Navy has performed this year.’” They’ll be right, and the SRA will likely hold that distinction for many years to come.