“Smart Start” for Stennis RCOH Shantina Callaway (O53) and Tahjuan Taylor (O53) band aircraft launch and recovery equipment (ALRE) to pallets on the flight deck of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).

“Smart Start” for Stennis RCOH

Published January 5, 2021

Hundreds of Newport News Shipbuilding employees at Naval Station Norfolk are preparing USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) for its refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH), expected to begin this year.

These shipbuilders represent the Smart Start program. Its concept is for shipbuilders to begin on-site jobs before the aircraft carrier departs the Navy base and arrives at Newport News Shipbuilding.

Supervising many projects throughout the ship, Scott Prue (X70) ensures craftsmen and craftswomen have the tools they need. “It’s basically getting the ship prepped so that when we pull into the yard it’s a continuous effort,” he said.

Ant Bryan is a construction supervisor who envisions how the Smart Start program will logistically flow from the base to Newport News Shipbuilding. “When we first pull into the shipyard, we’ll work on getting the arresting gear systems off the ship because that takes a long time to overhaul,” he said. “We’ll also get all the systems drained that ship’s force has been using like potable water and chill water. Then we will start turning wrenches and redoing this aircraft carrier.”

Bryan said the biggest challenge is the absence of a floating accommodation facility (FAF), which is an aviation and medical complex for ship’s force. It’s currently at NNS and being used by Navy personnel assigned to USS George Washington (CVN 73). To overcome this challenge, shipbuilders created a FAF on Stennis’ flight deck.

Also on the flight deck, Gary Hoffstaettrer (X43) works on catapults. He is a Marine veteran, who said he enjoys working with his shipyard team and Navy personnel.

“Knowing that this aircraft carrier is coming right out of the fleet gives me a different perspective,” he said. “Smart Start allows me to get to know the people who I’ll be working with from this point forward. Each day we strengthen what we can do for these men and women in the Navy. We have to build good warships.”

Watch a video about the Smart Start program on MyNNS.