Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Panama City mine warfare In-Service Engineering Agent (ISEA) and a team of mine warfare experts recently modernized two mine sweepers within a four-month window to enable a homeport change.
USS Pioneer (MCM 9) and USS Chief (MCM 14), two Avenger class minesweepers were assigned a homeport change from San Diego to Sasebo, Japan, in February but needed critical upgrades before their scheduled departure from San Diego in May.
“We modernized two minesweepers in four months because that’s all the time they had and that is what we do,” said Mike Bobroski, SQQ-32 ISEA project engineer, NSWC Panama City. “Our objective was to support modernization initiatives in Seventh Fleet at the earliest opportunity and provide our shipmates with the tools and capabilities to effectively execute missions and maintain a safe posture.”
To enable their forward deployed missions, the ships both needed an upgrade to the latest mine hunting sonar, the High Frequency Wide Band (HFWB) sonar set, also called the AN/SQQ-32(V)4. The AN/SQQ-32 sonar system is critical to minesweepers as it detects, classifies and localizes moored mines from a stand-off distance.
Modernizations require extensive coordination between NSWC Panama City response teams and the ship’s crew, as it is more than simply swapping out parts. It requires shipboard integration and testing to ensure the equipment will perform as intended when operated by the Sailors in a threat environment. It also includes training the Sailors on how to use the updated equipment properly.
NSWC Panama City’s mine warfare response teams are comprised of civilian, military and contracted specialists. And for this project, two teams, the Conditional Assessment Repair Evaluation (CARE) and Alteration Installation Teams (AIT) were integral to the modernization success.