USS Wasp completes maintenance, ready for new homeport

USS Wasp (LHD 1) enters Naval Station Norfolk after completing the first stage of sea trials in preparation for their upcoming homeport shift to Sasebo, Japan. Photo: US Navy

U.S. Navy’s amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) is nearly ready to head to her new homeport in Japan after works on her maintenance availability were completed in Norfolk.

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC) completed the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Planned Maintenance Availability on June 9.

MARMC was tasked with overseeing repairs and maintenance to Wasp last December, and given a six-month window to complete her availability and return her to service where she will replace USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) in support of the new generation of Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) in the Pacific.

Once USS Wasp becomes part of the U.S. 7th Fleet, it is scheduled to deploy as part of a new, improved, Expeditionary Strike Group that will combine a three-ship Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with a three ship guided-missile destroyer surface action group (SAG).

“Completing Wasp’s avail in such a timely manner – we owe a lot of our success to the planning during her basic phase,” said MARMC Commanding Officer Capt. Daniel Lannamann. “In the areas where we used lessons learned and had a solid plan in place to tackle repairs and maintenance on day one, we saw those jobs performed flawlessly and in a timely fashion.”

Wasp’s work package called for major overhauls, and was no small task while moored at BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair, who was the contractor tasked with performing the ship’s repairs and maintenance. Work items included repairs to the vent plenum, extensive work to the Number 4 Ship Service Turbine Generator (SSTG), modifications for Joint Strike Fighters (JSF), and replacement of all the non-skid on the flight deck. Repairs to Wasp’s flight deck nets were also on the long list of items to tackle during the avail.

With Wasp’s new focus on carrying the Navy’s new F-35B Lightning II JSF, it was imperative that the ship’s flight deck be resurfaced, which proved to be an exceptional undertaking.

“Generally, we would have more time to resurface the flight deck, so we would only use one containment tent, going zone to zone,” said MARMC Project Manager Bobby Pridgen. “Due to our condensed schedule, we had two 16,500 square foot containment tents on the flight deck at the same time, which is rare. Typically, to complete an entire flight deck, it takes 134 days. We completed Wasp’s entire flight deck in 89 days.”

Zone four of the flight deck is designated as the launch and recovery area for the F-35B, and this area was enclosed by a 12,000 square foot tent. Zone four is unique in that it contains Thermion, a coating system designed for landing and takeoff operations of the JSF. Without this heat resistant coating protecting the deck of the ship, when the thrusters of the JSF turned down, they could potentially cause severe damage to the deck.

“The JSF modification makes this availability unusual,” said Spence. “Six F-35B JSFs are already on site in Japan, and this vessel will be capable of supporting their operations in the Pacific. Although USS America (LHA 6) is configured for JSF, Wasp is the first Amphibious Assault Ship going overseas.”

Another area the Wasp saw success was with upgrades and replacement of insulation in several spaces around the ship. MARMC Production Department removed and installed over 21,000 square feet of insulation covering a large portion of Wasps structure.

Wasp will be forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan this fall as part of the U.S. 7th Fleet Forward Deployed Naval Forces.

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