Shipbuilders Adapt to Meet a New Challenge
Published February 2, 2021
When the Navy discovered issues with the piping system that carries high-octane jet fuel on aircraft carriers, the decision was made to double the system’s thickness. It may not sound like a major adjustment, but it presented a significant challenge for Newport News Shipbuilding’s Pipe Shop.
The change impacted about 10 miles of pipe and 10,000 joints. What was considered an easy joint became one of the most difficult joint types and would require argon purges and machining of each pipe.
However, shipbuilders from Aircraft Carrier Engineering, the Pipe Shop and Industrial Engineering worked together to implement improvements to allow the Pipe Shop to accommodate the changes and keep this work at NNS.
“The shop had to team with Engineering to determine the best course of action to set the shop up for success to meet this challenge,” said M30/X18 General Foreman Rob Teel. “Even with all the planning we did up front, there were unforeseeable issues we have encountered and teamed with Engineering to find the best possible solution. We are literally working on process changes right now that will improve safety, reduce cost and help the shop on schedule.”
Among the improvements was the development of a unique internal tool, known as “Bob,” that assists with fit ups. Specialized tooling that eliminated grinding also was purchased. Implemented changes have helped the shop eliminate more than 26,500 crane lifts and 35,700 man hours of machining and crane lift time.
“This was the biggest challenge that my team and I have had in my 36-year career, and we would not have been successful without the customer-focused attitude of Ford Class Platform Engineering,” said M30/X42 General Foreman Kenny Quinn.