BREMERTON, Wash. – After a long, exhausting day out at sea, or the monotonous tempo of an in port duty day, there’s always one place where Sailors can look to as their sanctuary.
This is a place where they can unwind, relax, and participate in their hobbies and interests before catching up on the elusive entity known as sleep. This place is the ship’s crew berthing. But just how do the berthings retain their home-like aura and overall suitability while ships are in lengthy maintenance periods? The answer can be found within the workings of the habitability team.
As the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) begins its 15-month docking planned incremental availability (DPIA), 41 berthings and living spaces are scheduled for overhauling and remodeling. This amounts to more than 1,600 racks and lockers. This massive undertaking is tasked to the habitability (hab) team. The hab team consists of 88 Sailors working diligently to break down and reconstruct the assigned crew living spaces.
According to Senior Chief Aviation Machinist’s Mate Jason Hewitt from Jacksonville, North Carolina, hab team-leading chief petty officer, the process of reconstructing a berthing is an intricate one, which also involves coordination with other DPIA teams and shipyard contractors.
First, the hab team comes in to remove all the racks and lockers, and the deck material is removed to bare metal and primed. Once this has been accomplished, the lagging team comes in and makes any repairs to the lagging. Contractors then come in and conduct any assorted maintenance or repairs based on work orders and the berthing schematics. Afterward, the paint team arrives to paint the space. Once the paint is dry, the hab team comes back to reinstall brand new racks with mattresses and lockers. Electricians install all required electric elements in the berthing. Once they pass the required tests, the hab team turns the berthing over to its original department.
Hewitt recognizes the importance of the colossal job they have been tasked with.
“To rehab the berthings the way we do is to keep the ship habitable, and contribute to the ship’s operational readiness and overall lifespan,” Hewitt said. “It’s also vital to help boost the morale of the crew, so Sailors have a comfortable place to lay their heads at night.”
He also recognizes that this is an imperative aspect of the critical path for the ship to accomplish the maintenance period on time.
“If the berthings aren’t done on time then it will affect the crew move on and possibly extend the yard period. That could, unfortunately, have a trickle-down effect and delay the other aircraft carriers that are scheduled to be in the dry dock after us,” Hewitt said.
The hab team is scheduled to be finished with all of their jobs by November 22nd.
“There’s plenty that could change, and much of it has to do with the coordination of the other teams working together to make sure we get the work done on time. But we’ve started early and have a good start on things, so I’m confident we will be able to make that deadline,” Hewitt said.
The junior Sailors who also work on hab team show focus and drive in taking initiative in this project.
“It’s a great experience to prepare the ship for its next mission and to continue this proud tradition,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Salvador Lankford, a hab team member from Lexington, Kentucky. “It’s hard work, but it’s all what you make it, and we know how vital this project is to the operational readiness of Nimitz.”
As Sailors transit the ship, loud thuds and bangs can be heard echoing through the passageways. With the familiar sight of racks and lockers being secured to pallets to be hauled across the brow on a forklift, all can be sure the hab team is hard at work renovating the berthing areas, getting the ship ready to go back to sea.
Nimitz is conducting a docking planned incremental availability at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility where the ship is receiving scheduled maintenance and upgrades.
For more news from USS Nimitz (CVN 68), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn68/.