Shipbuilders Mark Columbia Milestone
Published February 9, 2021
Shipbuilders marked a milestone on Dec. 23 when they successfully overturned the first Columbia (SSBN 826) stern unit in the first use of NNS’ second commissioned APCO Segment Assembly Machine (SAM) fixture. The automated cylindrical fixture in the Joint Manufacturing and Assembly Facility (JMAF) can rise and overturn 180 degrees making work safer and more efficient.
O63 Foreman Kevin Williams Jr. said the team had used a similar fixture to “flip” much smaller units for Virginia-class submarines, but this was a first for the Columbia class. “Columbia is bigger, so we were dealing with something way more massive in diameter than we ever had before,” he said. “We definitely had different variables.”
Teamwork between first- and second-shift crews – a total of about 20 shipbuilders – made the successful overturn possible. Prior to the “flip,” Williams said his crew had welded the outside of the unit, now they’re able to do the same on the inside.
Williams said he was proud of all the shipbuilders involved and the culture they have worked to build moving forward. “To do something for the first time and not hesitate and do it with confidence like you’ve done it before says a lot about what we’ve been developing for the past two years,” he said. “Five years from now, they’ll do what we just did, and it’ll be a walk in the park.”