By Kelly Luster, Director, Public Affairs/Corporate Communications, NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) was involved in a collision with the merchant vessel, Alnic MC, while underway east of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore August 21, 2017. Among the critical decisions Navy leadership faced were determining the extent of the damage and what it would take to complete repairs to get her back into service.
As the ship moored at Singapore’s Changi Naval Base, it was determined the ship would be moved to Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, for a complete assessment. In the weeks prior to departure from Singapore, crew members, technicians and divers prepared the ship for the trip by patching damaged sections of the hull and placing key systems in layup maintenance.
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Steel plates, totaling nearly 400,000 pounds, bound for the United States to Ship Repair Facility (SRF), Japan Regional Maintenance Center (JRMC) in Yokosuka, Japan, embark on the journey from U.S. Navy Supervisor Ship Building (SUPSHIP) across the United States to Scott Air Force Base where they will be loaded aboard aircraft to be transported to the USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) currently in dry-dock in Japan. –photo by Lawrence Stover, ACE Warehouse Coordinator, Bath Iron Works
In late September 2017, a marine transport company began preparing to move the damaged John S. McCain from Singapore to Japan where an in-depth damage assessment will be completed. Repairs are expected to take up to a year and could cost more than $200 million.
As the magnitude of the damages were realized, one issue stood out-it would take nearly 400,000 pounds of steel plates, among other supplies, to make repairs to the ship. But even more perplexing was how to get that steel half way around the world to ensure the repairs where kept on schedule to get it back to U.S. 7th Fleet. That’s when NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support (WSS) Transportation and Distribution (T&D) stepped into the breach. NAVSUP WSS T&D, located in Norfolk, Virginia, was instrumental in transporting the critical supplies from the United States to Ship Repair Facility (SRF), Japan Regional Maintenance Center (JRMC) in Yokosuka.
“Multiple sections under the NAVSUP WSS T&D team contributed to the effort of getting the urgently needed parts and supplies to the John S. McCain,” said Pam Young, operations director, NAVSUP WSS T&D Transportation Operations. Young worked with U.S. Navy Supervisor Ship Building of Bath, Maine, to verify the overall requirement for the material that had to be moved to Japan to meet the ship’s repair schedule. Once requirements were determined and trucks were loaded with large steel plates, they hit the road heading for Air Mobility Command, Travis Air Force Base, California. In the meantime, the NAVSUP WSS T&D, U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) liaison, Vaughn Stocker, located at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, was coordinating with the Tanker Airlift Control Center (TACC) as well as commercial vendors and U.S. Navy Supervisor Ship Building, to ensure all transportation requirements were met.
One of the significant hurdles Stocker faced planning the move was that it had to be done during a period of limited aircraft availability. He was able to successfully arrange additional C-17 and C-5 aircraft to move the precious cargo on time.
The final pieces of the puzzle fell into place under the watchful eye of Toby Au, NAVSUP WSS T&D Detachment lead at Travis Air Force Base who, much like a conductor pieces together instrumental music to create a symphony, brought it all together to get the much needed steel and hardware to the ship.
Au worked closely with SUPSHIP to coordinate inbound shipments to Travis Air Force Base from various vendors and Air Force load planners to get the oversized and heavy cargo onto the airlift. According to Au, a considerable amount of lift capability was sacrificed in order to expedite the material and meet schedules. “To paint a mental picture, it’s basically the footprint of three C-5’s or nine C-17s in an aerial delivery system configuration,” said Au.
When it was all said and done, by realigning and utilizing channel lift, NAVSUP WSS T&D saved the Navy nearly $2 million and got the supplies where they needed to be, when they needed to be there, once again demonstrating NAVSUP WSS is the critical link connecting the supply chain to the warfighter.