Teamwork Leads to Success

Published February 22, 2023

Late last year, teams from the Virginia-Class Submarine and New Construction Aircraft Carrier programs at Newport News Shipbuilding worked together to complete a critical 120-ton submarine lift ahead of schedule.

“Cross team collaboration, coordination and communication were at the forefront of the entire process,” said X80 Director David Brinkley II. “This is hard stuff done right from the deckplate to the director level.” Ongoing construction at the Modular Outfitting Facility (MOF) and resulting footprint constraints impacted the scheduled nuclear lift of the primary shield tank for Virginia-class submarine Wahoo (SSN 806).

This critical event was a fourth-quarter commitment for SSN 806, the first of the back-to-back VCS deliveries for NNS. With a full footprint and the MOF building extension not coming online until this year, the team last fall started looking for a new location to perform the lift. Based on lift requirements, the new construction carrier area in the North Yard provided the best opportunity. This would require communication and coordination between two programs that are working around many different schedule constraints.

To kick off this collaboration, the reactor plant module teams from VCS and CVN new construction met to look at the footprint in the North Yard and begin the conversation around facility availability.

“Several sites were considered, and the Covered Modular Outfitting Facility (CMOF) was determined to be the best location as it provided protection from the weather and access to a crane with sufficient capacity to make the lift,” said John Gies, X36 VCS superintendent.

With the CMOF location in mind, the VCS team put together a schedule based on past performance and communicated facility needs to the overall team.

“This was an opportunity to help our company, not just one program,” said Joe Loch, X02. “We are all in this together.” A major constraint in the plan was the expected poor weather conditions in the middle of the target week for the job. Avoiding weather delays was especially crucial as shutdown was quickly approaching.

Teams from the MOF, CMOF and Sub Shop developed a plan to move the PST to the CMOF five days earlier than the originally planned Dec. 16 date and then get it back into the MOF in time for the Sub Shop to complete the X10 work prior to the end of the year.

However, the team realized the lift needed to happen earlier in the week to avoid risking a delay due to bad weather. “Taking the forecast into account, we had to accelerate our schedule, and I was impressed with everyone’s willingness to jump in when needed,” said X82 Superintendent Stewart Welch.

A lot of emphasis for the transfer of the PST between fixtures was put on night shift to optimize the restricted timeline, and the team demonstrated high engagement and excellent performance. “We adapted and overcame. The communication we had was great, and the teams all pulled together to do what was asked of them. They did their job and then some,” said Matthew Cox, X11 night shift foreman.

The cross-program team completed this job in only two days, successfully cutting the schedule in half, delivering the PST to the MOF on Dec. 14, which allowed X10 to resume work five days earlier than planned.

“This successful evolution builds trust in between the teams which is valuable when we need to share critical resources such as cranes and footprint space,” said X02 Director Dave White.

The following day, with the PST safely inside of the MOF, the entire team could relish in the fact that they made the right decisions to act quickly. If they had not expedited their plan, the downpour outside would have led to a very different outcome.