JCS begins first ever PIA period at NASNI

by JO2 Marcus T. Myers
USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74)
Public Affairs - November 3, 1998

ABOARD JOHN C. STENNIS The aircraft carrier USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74) began it's first ever maintenance period October 13 at its new home, Naval Air Station North Island.

The PIA, or Phased Incremental Availability period, is new for JOHN C. STENNIS as well as for San Diego since JCS is the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to homeport here.

All nuclear-powered aircraft carriers will undergo a PIA every two years. This six-month, high intensity, pierside maintenance period replaces the traditional overhaul that ships went through about every seven years.

CDR Joe Sychterz, JCS' Chief Engineer, explained the ship will undergo various modifications and upgrades in order to get ready for the next deployment.

"One of the big modifications we're doing is to the chill water system. We're installing a new air conditioning unit, and doing an amid-ship modification that will increase the size of the chill water piping from six inches to eight inches," Sychterz said. "Both modifications will help our chill water capabilities significantly."

In addition to the shipyard work scheduled, the crew of JCS will be responsible for 60,000 additional man-hours of maintenance.

"One of the things we'll be doing is renovating some of the living compartments aboard the ship. Also, a lot of work is being conducted on the catapults and the flight deck. Some preservation of the main mast and search radar area is also being performed," Sychterz added.

Many military and civilian shipyard workers are aboard to assist the crew with the PIA. The agencies involved in the maintenance period are COMNAVAIRPAC, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Supervisor Shipbuilding (SUPSHIP) San Diego, Newport News Shipbuilding and Southwest Regional Maintenance Center.

Mr. Dexter Hate, the Safety and Environmental Manager at SUPSHIP, stated the PIA period can be one of the most dangerous periods for any ship.

"JCS moves from an operational mode to an industrial mode. The operational mode is obviously dangerous. However, the industrial mode, as far as I'm concerned, is the most dangerous for your ship," said Hate. "The possibility of fires is constant during the maintenance period."

As with any evolution for JCS, safety is paramount. JCS' Commanding Officer, Capt. Douglas Roulstone, said it's very important for the crew to keep focused in order to make the maintenance period go smoothly.

"We have to be operationally ready to do any mission we're assigned, and that begins by making sure we're in a safe working environment," Capt. Roulstone said. "The ship we're used to operating around has changed, and we have to be careful."

JOHN C. STENNIS is scheduled to remain in its PIA until April 1999, when the ship is expected to begin preparation for its next six-month deployment.

(Myers is a Navy journalist assigned to the Public Affairs Office aboard the USS JOHN C. STENNIS)