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For a quarter of what it would cost to build a new nuclear aircraft carrier, the Navy is gutting and re- tuilding the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.
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designs. Standardized training fac1 common logistic support, and cross
prove readiness across the carrier
In addition to the ACDS, we are
into the new displays and controls will make our point defense weap1 and the air wing more effective.
You almost have to feel sorry for the Kitty Hawk in her present condition. This 80,000-ton warship is a veteran of six combat cruises in Southeast Asia and an Indian Ocean deployment to support operations in the Persian Gulf. The lady has 264,247 aircraft traps to her credit. Yet here she is, strapped and helpless in drydock while Lilliputian sailors and shipyard workers inflict upon her every indignity that blowtorch and grinder can produce.
But the Kitty Hawk's SLEPing—the total gutting and rebuilding of a vessel that the Navy terms the Service Life Extension Program—will result in what her skipper, Captain F. Lee Tillotson, calls a “complete ship." Commissioned at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in 1961, the Kitty Hawk returned there in 1987 to begin her SLEP. She is the first West Coast aircraft carrier and the fourth carrier in all to receive a SLEP overhaul. The Philadelphia Naval Shipyard is the only shipyard in the country performing these revolutionary overhauls.
Earlier this year Captain Tillotson gave Proceedings Editor-in-Chief Fred Rainbow and Associate Editor Kristine Wilcox a tour of his ship as the carrier lay open in drydock under the hands of her none-too- gentle surgeons. The Kitty Hawk's spaces would be unrecognizable to many of her former crew members, but Captain Tillotson finds his way through her unerringly, as well he might: this is the fourth time he has served in the ship since 1966.
Adjoining the drydock is an administration building in which the crew has recreated the look and atmosphere of their ship. They even brought in the Hawk's mess operation, which in 1987 won the Navy's prestigious Nye Award for having the finest enlisted dining facility in a Pacific Fleet aircraft carrier.
The men and officers of the Kitty Hawk have done extensive volunteer work in the Philadelphia community. Their crowning achievement is the refurbishing and maintaining of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington Square which had fallen into disrepair before the Hawk crew came to its rescue.
When the Kitty Hawk sails out of Philadelphia Harbor in 1991, headed for her new home port of Pensacola, Florida, she will be beginning a second life in the very year her first one was expected to end.
Proceedings: Could you give us a rundown of the major changes and upgrades being accomplished in the Kitty Hawk's SLEP?
Tillotson: Starting with the flight deck, a single wet accumulator per catapult will replace the 12 dry steam receivers. The new design will improve catapult service life and reduce the sudden changes in boiler load while launching aircraft. This will allow more flexibility in selecting the boiler configuration for flight operations. I expect to achieve improved fuel efficiency as well as reduce wear and tear on our people and equipment.
New Mk-7 jet blast deflectors behind catapults Number 2 and Number 4 will allow us to operate both F-14s and F/A-18s in afterburner from all four catapults. The combination of the new accumulators and jet blast deflectors along with new catapult rotary retraction engines, flush deck nose gear launch equipment, structural repairs, and maintainability improvements provide a total upgrade in our launch system. Besides the inherent reduction in maintenance and logistics support, the aircrew and flight deck boatswains will realize more flexibility on deck spots, reduced launch intervals, and more redundancy in the event of a battle casualty or some other type of failure.
All of the arresting gear will be replaced with higher capacity engines. We’ll gain operationally by reducing the wind-over-deck requirements as well as improving reliability and safety.
In the main engineering spaces, all of the rotating equipment is either being replaced or overhauled. The boiler firebox, super heaters, support structure, and foundations will be in essentially new condition. New forced- draft blowers, new high-pressure turbines, refurbished low-pressure turbines, new feed pumps, improved firefighting equipment, and wholesale replacement and repair of valves and significant piping repairs are parts of the package.
Upgrades and correction of deficiencies to our basic support systems are equal to or even more important than the major engineering plant components. Increased chilled water capacity and distribution, structural repairs to the fuel storage tanks, and piping system repairs and overhaul of all firefighting systems are a few examples.
Perhaps the least glamorous but for me the most important of the system upgrades is the one we’re doing on the electrical distribution system. A carrier captain's worst nightmare is a cascading power failure and loss of vital loads with aircraft airborne. I put that in the same category as a cold catapult shot—not an acceptable outcome. 0ver the years, we have expanded the electrical power generation capacity to meet increased demands; however, in many cases new electrical loads were installed at the most convenient electrical load center. This resulted in load center imbalance, overloaded bus traits fer systems, and less than optimum vital circuit segregation.
The third major area of upgrades involves the combat systems. We are improving point defense, electronic warfare, radar systems, communications, and our ability to process and display information to the decision makers. All significant components ° the Navy tactical data system are beUL replaced. The watch stations for the tactical action officer and his supporI" ( ing organization incorporate some gre human factors improvements. State-0 the-art displays and a more logical at rangement of weapon controls shoe1 allow the watch team to compress an improve the tactical decision process. ^ The design supports the combined * fare commander requirements and 'v improve the effectiveness of embark staffs and the senior carrier air group. commander. The standardized design the combat information center ClC'" we now call it advanced combat dir tion system (ACDS), for some reason—has already been installed °n the Saratoga (CV-60), the America (CV-66), and the new nuclear carried training from other carriers will mr installing the radar systems associated^ with the new threat upgrade that s rently being installed on some of 0 ^ cruisers: the AN/SPS-48E and the A SPS-49(V). An associated computet integrates the radars and provides a great improvement in track correlat track quality, and electronic counter measures. The threat upgrade is tie
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Proceedings: Are there any impro^.^
ments in internal communications
the SLEP? t t0
Tillotson: We are essentially restore and rework the old system. ,j is an area in which I personally ^ like to see the Navy place a much ^ higher priority on upgrading. We
k°^^n8s: How do you divide the shi n<,„,tWeen ship’s force and civilian
*2,000 l0ri'y of
spaces is consuming the
0 bring fiber optics technology on ar|J our ships for voice and data cransmission. In the civilian communi- Qatl0n community, this technology is ^rational and offers tremendous advantages.
feedings: The principal way the (i ler air group is going to change is at you’ll fly the F/A-18s now, too, is w right?
'°‘Son: Yes, the addition of the '18 is going to tremendously im- Ve both our air superiority and our dj ’e capabilities. The aircraft interme- jtee maintenance department, compos- ma'erial repair facility, and the cata- for purifications are the key changes in ^-18 support. We are also mak- iK JPace provisions for the ES-3A and
is0ceedings: Is it true that your SLEP going to take longer than the previ- w three SLEPs?
to0ko‘sr: Yes’k is'The Sara,°sa
f0rm°nths and we’re programmed vy- months. Shipyard manpower ^duced from over 12,000 during |evara,oga's SLEP to the current decj ,°f 8,500. This reduction and a Wers,0n to limit the use of overtime s'°ns ^ reasons f°r tbe exten- iverS' "fbe design and production work feee sPread out, allowing the yard to staki tbe skilled trade mix at a more ab‘e level.
3ge°,S°n: ^hen the SLEP work pack- titne'Vas developed, we spent a lot of the , Screening the jobs and determining CostEf1 division of labor and the most Crjft Active approach. Since an air- Pabii c.arrter possesses most of the catlap les °f an intermediate mainte- the aactivity, we are concentrating on Ov ** we do best, such as electronic elCctau*s’ pumps and valves, piping, HiUnilcal discrepancies, internal com- abiij(Cat'on, a°d motor rewinds. Habit- 0ver t ar,d damage control work in
ittg skiHs that the shipyard is bring- levei *he ship are classified as depot- 't'eljjj kl Is—pipe fitting, high-pressure etc, installation of ship alterations, Sitieer-are backed up by design en- 3hd ln§> Production planners, logistics catCcj aterial specialists, and sophisti- rpore (SaPP°rt shops. The shipyard has Hie an 2,000 men a day working on l,ly Hawk, so it’s not just skills they bring to the job, but concentrated manpower.
Proceedings: Did you have to change your shipboard organization to run this SLEP?
Tillotson: We made as few changes as possible. My objective was to maintain a classic carrier organization so that we could retain the identity and pride that have made the Kitty Hawk such a strong organization throughout her service. We are accomplishing our work package and monitoring the shipyard through the traditional departments. We developed a quality assurance organization that ensures our work packages and material control are meeting overhaul specifications. This has allowed the young sailors to identify with their ultimate function in the organization a lot better than they would in a temporary industrial organization.
Proceedings: As these things go, there’s never enough money for the CO to do everything that he’d like to have done on a ship. What have you had to give up?
Tillotson: I would have liked to put more money into habitability and “complete ship” items—the items that would allow this ship when she sails down the Delaware to be, in every possible area, a new carrier. In many cases, the ship’s force is going to have to complete some of those items.
I also would have put more emphasis on the use of fiber optics.
Proceedings: What’s been your worst headache about SLEP?
Tillotson: The biggest problem we had was off-loading the ship. We arrived in Philadelphia after a very successful around-the-world deployment, spending four and a half months in the Indian Ocean, and we were as ready as a ship could ever be to go into combat. We spent the first few months in Philadelphia off-loading the ship so our valuable equipment would not be exposed to the industrial environment that we were about to enter. That, I think, was the most difficult time, to take a ship that was so ready for battle and place her into a condition that would allow the industrial work to take place.
Proceedings: This is a traditionally difficult time for the crew, being in the shipyard. Can you recount some of the things you’ve done to make this an easier time for your people?
Tillotson: We’ve attacked it aggressively because we’ve had to develop programs to get the crew involved in off-duty activities that would normally be available on base in San Diego or Norfolk. Number one, we have placed top priority on athletic programs. When we first arrived, we had 32 softball teams. We’re trying to get everybody involved. We even have a membership in a local rowing club. We have our own eight-man shell, and just recently they participated in a novice race down at the Naval Academy with the Kitty Hawk crew against the midshipmen.
We placed a lot of emphasis on off- duty education and training. We acquired a 41-foot Morgan sailboat and developed a junior officer underway training program to provide surface warfare candidates with an opportunity to maintain proficiency and earn underway qualifications.
The rehabilitation of the local USO is a project the crew took on when we arrived, and it’s been a tremendous success. We supported the USO both with our Combined Federal Campaign and as a self-help work project. We will frequently have 200 to 250 of the young guys at the USO in the evening, and it’s just a great program.
The other programs involve getting them out into the community with the adopt-a-school programs, as coaches and assistants with the Police Athletic League, and the Washington Square Project. We have several people working in their spare time down at Penn’s Landing on the Olympia, which was Admiral Dewey’s battleship during the battle of Manila Bay.
Proceedings: Could you tell us about the crew’s involvement with the Washington Square Project?
Tillotson: Washington Square is the site of the tomb of the unknown Revolutionary War soldier. We had a group of volunteers completely rehabilitate the monument and we now conduct a daily ceremony there raising the American flag and conducting colors.
Proceedings: What advice would you pass on to a CO who is bringing his ship in for a SLEP, having gone through the process yourself?
Tillotson: I think that retaining organization functions and service to the crew are the keys. Keep people working in their rates on a meaningful ship’s force work package. Keep them informed and support their individual professional development. Most important, keep smiling and having fun.
ln8s I June 1989
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Beneath a veil of scaffolding, the crew of the Kitty Hawk and shipyard workers are remaking the ship from her superstructure to her hull. The Hawk is the fourth aircraft carrier to undergo the Service Life Extension Program (SLEP), which the Navy created during the Carter administration to achieve its goal of 15 carrier battle groups while avoiding the cost of new construction. Extensive work on the Kitty Hawk's launch and recovery systems, left, will reduce the ship's wind- over-deck requirements for flight operations. Her propulsion systems inside and outside the hull will be virtually remade when her three-year overhaul is completed in 1991.
The Navy expects the $941 million overhaul to add 15 years to the projected 30-year service life of the Kitty Hawk, which was launched in 1960. Electronics technicians in the ship's bridge space, below, work on the virtual deveining and replacement of the Kitty Hawk's wiring. The ship's boilers, right, and turbines in the main spaces, bottom left, are being put into essentially new condition. But the most radical part of the Hawk's overhaul—and the one that will do most to improve the survivability of her battle group—is the total replacement of the combat systems in the combat direction center, bottom right.