photo US Navy
USS GEORGE H.W. WASHINGTON, At Sea | USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) successfully passed its first Maintenance and Material Management (3M) Inspection while on deployment in the Arabian Sea, Sept. 24.
"The ship did really well for being such a new ship with a green crew," said Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuel) (AW/SW) Bryan D. Hay, one of the 3M inspectors.
The inspection is conducted every 24 months aboard aircraft carriers to examine each ship's ability to effectively record and administer required maintenance throughout the ship via the Navy's 3M system.
During the five-day event, 16 inspectors from Commander, Naval Air Forces (COMNAVAIRFOR) conducted 248 supervised checks on the ship's 18 departments to ensure the crew properly follows written procedures for required maintenance.
"I saw a lot of confidence in the crew, especially in the maintenance workers," added Hay. "There was a lot of pride and professionalism in their work."
The 3M Inspection is the culminating test in a larger training cycle that continuously monitors and trains Sailors on the proper way to effectively maintain an aircraft carrier for its expected 50-year life span.
COMNAVAIRFOR inspectors conducted a preparatory event known as a 3M Assist in December 2010, to help prepare the ship for the inspection. Following that assessment, the ship adopted an intensive training regimen to increase the knowledge and understanding of both the supervisors and maintenance personnel.
Senior Chief Mineman (SW/AW) Steve E. Jones, one of the ship's 3M coordinators, said the increased focus on real-time monitored maintenance checks during the past months made the difference in helping every Sailor thoroughly understand the procedures and equipment.
"We had senior leadership - the subject matter experts - supervise the maintenance workers so that we could correct them if they were doing something wrong or provide insight if they had a question about the gear," said Jones.
Master Chief Boatswain's Mate (SW) Rob A. Benedetto, ship's 3M leading chief petty officer, added that the active participation of the entire chain of command in performing these checks helped make the ship's maintenance program successful.
"This command has created a culture of excellence for our maintenance program," said Benedetto. "Our success is a direct result of the contributions made by the commanding officer, the Chiefs' Mess and the individual maintenance worker. It was a shipwide effort and no one person can take credit for our success."
The 3M inspectors said the ship's training was evident in the maintenance checks they performed.
"From the 3M Assist to the 3M Inspection, we saw a huge improvement on the ship, particularly in the knowledge that was gained by the crew," said Hay.
Master Chief Hull Technician (SW/AW) Michael W. Barfield, the 3M Inspection team leader, said the ship has "come a long way" not only in the collective knowledge of the crew but in the understanding of the particular equipment.
"If we understand the equipment, how it operates and why it operates that way, it makes it a lot easier for the Sailor to understand what the maintenance card is talking about," said Barfield. "It gives the Sailor a broader picture so that he or she can stand back and say, 'Now I understand.'"
Barfield said the ability of each Sailor to properly perform maintenance is critical to continuing the ship's daily missions.
"When you push the start button, you need the generator to start. When you push the fire button, you need the missile to launch," he said. "The taxpayers spend a lot of money on this national asset and we are charged with maintaining it, in order to make sure that it lasts. The way we accomplish that task is by doing correct preventative maintenance along the way."
Benedetto said that looking forward the ship is well-positioned to maintain the culture and level of proficiency that was recognized during the 3M Inspection.
"We learned a lot from this inspection that is going to help us improve and help us continue to maintain this ship for its 50 years."
George H.W. Bush is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility on its first operational deployment conducting maritime security operations and support missions as part of Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn.