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Ship repair industry receives thanks

With the USS George Washington (CV-72) preparing for arrival in Japan, the San Diego ship repair companies that made its voyage possible received a heart-felt thank you Wednesday from Navy leaders.

As guest speaker at this month’s Port of San Diego Ship Repair Association luncheon, Vice Adm. Tom Kilcline, Naval Air Forces Pacific commander, commended the companies for their hard work and dedication in repairing the ship after a May 22 fire.

Capt. Jerry Reina, commanding officer of the Southwest Regional Maintenance Center, a representative from SPAWAR, and several local businessmen also expressed their gratitude and recognized those in attendance who worked on the ship.

“There is no better example of fleet and industry team work than what was accomplished on the George Washington,” Kilcline said.

George Washington was set to replace the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) as the aircraft carrier forward deployed in Japan early this summer, but the turnover was delayed while Navy personnel and local ship repair businesses joined forces to repair about 80 compartments that were severely damaged by the blaze. Extensive electrical damage also was repaired.

According to a Navy press release, about $70 million in damage was caused by the fire.

Initial assessments indicated the nuclear-powered carrier would undergo repairs in San Diego into October.

“Adm. Willard and I sat down, I said 'Sir, this looks like October,'” Kilcline told the association. “He said 'No, this looks like August.'”

And the repair team rose to the challenge, allowing the ship to begin its westward trek on Aug. 21. It is scheduled to be in Japan before the end of the month.

But it wouldn’t have been possible without the teamwork demonstrated by the Navy and the industry partners Pacific Ship Repair and Fabrication Inc., Northrop Grumman Continental Maritime, General Dynamics NASSCO, BAE Systems San Diego Ship Repair, York, American Technologies, Arise/Waco and YYK that all answered the call for help -- a San Diego trend the Navy appreciates and on which it relies.

“Nobody on that team ever said 'I can't,'" said Tony Gonzales, program manager for the in-service carrier program at Northrop Grumman Corp. Shipbuilding (NYSE: NOC), who led the repair efforts. “When one MSR or IT needed help, another team jumped in.”

He said they all shared the common vision of getting the George Washington underway as soon as possible, and did what it took to get the job done.

“Any doubts of San Diego’s ship repair capability to successfully accomplish such a huge feat in short order have been put to rest,” Reina said.

“Your work is indicative of what you provide the Navy day in and day out. Thank you.”

Send your comments to Erin.Bridges@sddt.com

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