Photo by Ashley Cowan Photo by Ashley Cowan

Preparing for Stennis

Published April 27, 2021

Shipbuilders are finishing Dry Dock 11 preparations before the arrival of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). The aircraft carrier will arrive at Newport News Shipbuilding soon to begin its mid-life refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH).

“All of our trades are gearing up to make sure we have all the people here that we need at the time that we need them,” said PJ Waller, a construction supervisor who has worked on carrier overhauls for about 40 years. “You think it’s just another carrier, but each carrier is unique. You have some of the same challenges, but you usually have a whole host of new challenges.”

Working in the dry dock is new for Kaylah Boggs (X42), who usually works aboard aircraft carriers during overhauls. “It’s very impressive,” she said. “It’s a lot more work than I expected it to be. There is always something new I learn every day, whether it’s on my jobsite or the actual job.”

New technology plays a role in dry dock preparations. Woody Woods (E63) uses a handheld laser scanning tool to map components in the dry dock. The tool maps as he walks.

“We’re doing these scans to show where everything is located in the dry dock and then we can use that scan for future overhauls setting up dry dock plans,” he said.

The data takes less time to process with the handheld scanners than previously used scanners requiring tripods. “We’re able to scan this dock and get the keel block locations within four hours,” Woods said. “The older scanners would have taken about four or five days to get the same amount of data.”

Scaffolding lines the dry dock walls, a proactive approach to give shipbuilders faster access to the ship when it arrives. “We’ll go inside the ship and start tearing things down to start replacing things,” Waller said. “It’s challenging, but a lot of fun. I always feel good when I see the ship floating back out to sea when it leaves.”

Watch a video on MyNNS to see various jobs shipbuilders are completing before Stennis’ arrival.