Maintaining the Fleet

USS Spruance (DDG 111) (left) with USS Decatur (DDG 73) and USS Momsen (DDG 92). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Will Gaskill/Released

Summer is just around the corner and that means fun, sun, and – for many – road trips! To prepare, travelers may change their oil, have brakes serviced, or check the air pressure in their tires. Similarly, U.S. Navy ships must prepare before long voyages, like deployments, to ensure the safety and success of the journey.

Pre-deployment inspections are imperative because deployments generally last about seven months and broken or faulty equipment at sea could be catastrophic. Routine inspections and preventive maintenance help ensure the safety of the ship and Sailors while increasing the vessel and equipment’s longevity and lethality. With the extensive amount of time a ship spends at sea in her lifetime preventive maintenance is also must to combat the effects of corrosive saltwater. It can also save taxpayer money by preventing the need for costly repairs.

Although Sailors always work hard to preserve their ships and systems through training, exercises, and maintenance, there are times when a closer look is needed. This means ships must undergo intense, periodic assessments such as the Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) and 3M inspections.

A Sailor checks a fuse box during INSURV preparation. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kenneth Rodriguez Santiago/Released

INSURV, completed every 30 months, is considered the fleet’s most intense inspection. The primary purpose is to examine the material readiness of a ship and report its overall condition all the way up to the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus. INSURV assesses the condition of a ship’s hull and nearly all of the installed equipment, from engines and propellers to inflatable life jackets and convection ovens. One of the most recent ships to undergo INSURV is USS Momsen (DDG 92)According to this article from Momsen’s official website, INSURV inspectors were extremely impressed with the crew’s knowledge and demeanor and concluded Feb. 11, 2016 that Momsen was in the best material condition possible for her current deployment as part of a Pacific Surface Action Group (PAC SAG). 

Another milestone assessment, Maintenance and Material Management Inspection (3MI), is conducted every two years and closely examines the ship’s ability to perform required maintenance using the ship’s maintenance recommendation and tracking system. This system, often referred to as 3M, outlines when and how to perform both preventive and corrective maintenance on various equipment and systems on board. Just like changing your car’s oil at specific intervals to prolong the engine’s life, the 3M system details all planned points at which systems need to be checked or have maintenance performed. This helps ensure that all equipment on the ship is properly maintained and in good working order. USS Decatur (DDG 73) is one of the most recent ship’s to pass 3MI. On Feb. 29, 2016, just ahead of her current deployment with the aforementioned Pacific Surface Action Group (PAC SAG) Decatur announced via their official Facebook page that they earned an outstanding 98% on their inspection. 

A Material Maintenance Management (3M) assessor , left, briefs Sailors about maintenance. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Laura Hoover/Released

These inspections, while intensive, are well worth the additional effort they require to help preserve Sailors’ safety and increase the U.S. Navy’s war fighting readiness so we can count on our ships them to be where we need them, when we need them.


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