USS Kearsarge [LHD 3] Saves the Navy Money, and Prepares for MV-22s
One of the quiet factors driving maintenance costs in modern militaries is electronics; not just the cost of procuring them, but the cost of ‘repairing’ them. As these components have become more complex, replacement has become the preferred option for dealing with problems. This drives both expanded inventories of expensive finished assemblies, and an increased load on rear depots and the logistics chain that reaches to them.
The Wasp Class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge [LHD 3] was recently recognized for some worthy successes in addressing this problem, and is currently undergoing refits in order to achieve a new milestone in US naval aviation…
The Navy Times reports that the ship’s “micro-miniature” (2M) repair shop was recently recognized for over $400,000 in FY 2005 by repairing electronics rather than replacing them.
“In one of our previous jobs, the 2M shop completed a repair on the ship’s Gridlock System by replacing three IC chips,” said Electronic Maintenance Officer John St. John. “The chips were only $2.50 each, but this saved the Navy $15,000 for the cost to replace the entire circuit cards.” As Electronics Technician 1st Class Clive Foster puts it: “Before any Sailor on Kearsarge orders an expensive electronic part, we urge them to make sure we can repair it first… It would be better to repair the part using a 75-cent transistor than replacing the item entirely.”
Kearsarge made their 2M capability available to other ships within their Expeditionary Strike Group during their recent deployment to the Persian Gulf, and sailors from Kearsarge’s 2M Shop often advise other work centers throughout the command to bring any equipment-related repair to them.
The USS Kearsarge is currently in port receiving structural and equipment upgrades, including modifications that will make it the first amphibious assault ship to accommodate the Marine Corps’ new MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. The work is part of an array of maintenance and equipment upgrades being conducted during her shipyard period at BAE Systems in Norfolk, VA, and is expected to last until late February 2006.