By Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan (Sept. 28, 2016) －In preparation for upcoming maintenance work, four members from Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center’s (SRF-JRMC) Sasebo Detachment visited their Yokosuka counterparts to observe and learn how they repair U.S. Navy ships’ shafts.
This week-long visit was an opportunity for the workers to study the procedure on USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19). Visiting members included Sasebo Planning and Engineering Division personnel, Mikio Tahara, Kotaro Yamaguchi, Toshiyuki Shida and Daniel Martin.
“It has been about 15 or 20 years since Sasebo worked on ships’ shafts,” Shida said. “There are now no people who remember the work anymore. However, there may be a good possibility to restart shaft-work again, like the vessels of LSD [dock landing ship] class ships homeported at Sasebo. We have a ship like USS Germantown [LSD 42], for example.”
Together with Machinery Group Master Masato Suzuki and Shop Head Kazuyoshi Suzuki, the small team inspected and repaired Blue Ridge’s shaft at the command’s machinist shop. There, they saw the shaft being lifted, measured and straightness corrected; a coat of resin called glass reinforced plastic (GRP) removed and reapplied; and other relevant maintenance tasks.
“We, of course, have documents where the procedure is recorded,” Yamaguchi said. “But as they say, ‘seeing is believing.’ We experienced it. We have to relearn it from scratch.”
“I saw GRP being applied for the first time,” Tahara said. “Currently we are farming out those jobs to contractors. This time I could learn the work hands-on, and even though we are not doing that job on our own, we can judge the quality of jobs done by the contractors.”
Tahara also explained that the Sasebo Detachment plans to do similar work next year, if conditions are met.
“Everything is huge, and everybody is working busily here in Yokosuka,” Martin said. “Like Sasebo, everyone is very focused on the work and dedicated to what they do. I am always impressed by the Japanese work skill, even though the process is a little bit different. […] Here, there is more in-house production work. Planning and paperwork are written a little bit differently than what we do in Sasebo.”
Shida also added that the exchange of ideas and skills was very rewarding. “We would like more chances like this,” he said. “We would like to have a chance to exchange ideas about planning next time.”