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DARWIN, Australia (NNS) - Five Sailors from submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40) were dispatched over the weekend to make repairs to amphibious transport dock ship USS Cleveland (LPD 7), June 17.
Cleveland, a forward deployed vessel, and homeported in San Diego, was conducting a port visit when her crew identified a defect on the weld of the piping for one of the boilers. The ship immediately sent out a request for assistance to fix the potentially serious problem.
Lt. Philip Carey, Frank Cable's quality assurance officer and also the acting production management assistant at the time, said the Cleveland was able identify a leak because of steam and water discharge from a pipe.
"It was a minor leak but had they tried to operate with that, and with the pressure they operate at, the weld could have failed completely and filled the entire space with steam," said Carey.
Within 48 hours of being notified, Frank Cable sent a team consisting of two welders, Hull Maintenance Technician 1st Class Donald Preston and Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Wayne Kelly, a non-destructive testing petty officer, Hull Maintenance Technician 1st Class Gregory King, and one quality assurance chief petty officer, Chief Hull Maintenance Technician Charles Johnson. This team was headed up by Senior Chief Hull Maintenance Technician James Heffelfinger.
"The main technique required for this repair is to ensure you pre-heat the metal to a designated temperature prior to welding so the metal does not crack," said Heffelfinger. "The metal itself was CRMO [Chromium Molybdenum], which is normal for old steam plants."
Heffelfinger said that some of the major safety issues was ensuring that the boiler was tagged out and drained to eliminate any potential for burns.
"The other tricky safety issue is during the pre-heating of the metal, as we use strip heaters plugged into a welding machine that causes high temperatures," he said.
After their arrival, the Sailors spent the next 24 hours removing the old weld; then welded, inspected and tested the new weld. The boiler returned to full operational capacity.
"The skill and efficiency of our Sailors had a lot to do with the ease and quickness of the repairs, as this is what we train on a daily basis," said Heffelfinger.
Carey agreed that because of the speed at which these Sailors made the repairs, and the nature of the repair itself, that Cleveland was able to resume its mission rather quickly.
Cable conducts maintenance and support of submarines and surface vessels deployed in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.
For more news from USS Frank Cable (AS 40), visit www.navy.mil/local/as40/.