PEARL HARBOR (NNS) - USS Reuben James (FFG 57) deployed from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Feb. 1, as part of an independent deployment to the Western Pacific.

Reuben James, commanded by Cmdr. David E. Miller, is deploying under the Middle Pacific Surface Combatant (MPSC) deployment concept in which Pearl Harbor-based ships deploy in support of operations, primarily in the Western Pacific. The crew of about 225 Sailors will conduct integrated operations in conjunction with coalition partners deployed to the Western Pacific.

"Reuben James has been preparing for this day since returning from our last deployment," said Miller. "Our focus of effort through continuous maintenance supplied by Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, training and assessments conducted by Afloat Training Group Middle Pacific, and exercises RIMPAC 2010 and Koa Kai 11-1, have fully prepared us to be 'ready on arrival' to support all missions and operations. Our Sailors are ready, our families are ready, and Reuben James is ready. Our motto says it all, 'Back with a Vengeance.'"

Miller said he also expects to support the wider mission areas of maritime interdiction operations (MIO) and theater security cooperation (TSC).

USS Reuben James Command Senior Chief Navy Counselor (SW) Johannes Gonzales said his biggest expectation for the deployment is to be able to work closely with the battle group the ship is about to join.

"It's going to be a new experience for many of the crew members," said Gonzales. "Our personal goal is to get better. We are going to go out there. We are going to do our mission and meanwhile we are going to get better."

Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard teamed up with BAE Systems Hawaii Shipyards to successfully complete a continuous maintenance availability (CMAV) on Reuben James, on time, Jan. 10.

"We have to be ready to deploy at a moment's notice," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 John Walls, USS Reuben James main propulsion assistant. "Continuous maintenance allows our ships to be mission-ready at all times."

With 20 years of maintenance engineering experience in the Navy, Walls said the change to continuous maintenance keeps the ships in better condition than the previous way. Instead of only conducting maintenance during major availabilities a year or more apart, work is done in smaller increments more frequently when the ship is in port.

The original completion date for the maintenance period was Dec. 22. Due to new work and delayed delivery of material, the deadline was extended. The CMAV work package on Reuben James was mainly structural and mechanical work accomplished through a combined effort between prime contractor BAE Systems Hawaii Shipyards, subcontractors, the shipyard and ship's force.

Walls said the shipyard's fleet technical support division and gas turbine engine shop performed repairs on the ship's elevator, fins and gas turbine engines.

"We've had great support from both the shipyard and the contractors during this CMAV," he said.

Lester Lee, is the shipyard project manager for Reuben James.

"With the holidays and inclement weather, there were some challenges with obtaining necessary materials on time and quickly replacing the non-skid surfaces on all decks, but the team prevailed to accomplish the work on time," said Lee.

Another challenge the team faced was underwater repairs. Lee said that instead of dry-docking the ship, which would be more expensive, the shipyard's Navy divers and ship's force installed a cofferdam on the underwater hull. The cofferdam created a dry space, which allowed contractors to work below the waterline.

Walls said continuous maintenance allows work to be done more frequently when it is needed, and the ship's crew members become familiar with the civilian workers who perform the repairs.

"We see the same faces so often, they become like part of the ship's company," he said.

Guided-missile frigates are multi-mission surface combatants, capable of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface warfare (ASUW) missions.

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