A year ago, the dock landing ship Oak Hill was in poor shape — and that’s by the Fleet Forces Command chief’s reckoning. Beginning in 2005, five deployments in five years, no time for maintenance and inadequate manning had left the relatively young ship with a degraded power plant, endemic corrosion and a whole lot of systems that just didn’t work. A long-overdue yard period, money, lots of outside help and long hours produced a remarkable turnaround Apr. 4-8, when the ship passed its rigid underway material inspection by the Board of Inspection and Survey with flying colors. Oak Hill scored “green” in 16 of 18 functional areas, and “yellow” in the other two. Refurbishment and upgrade work continues, but the ship is just about back up to where officials want it to be. And it’s looking good:
The lesson learned — or more accurately (over the past two years), reinforced — is that it’s far easier, and the Navy is better served, when ships are maintained on a more even keel. That means, officials say, ships accurately reporting problems, leaders honestly assessing and reporting how much money the Navy needs for ship maintenance, and fully manning ships so that commands can better perform everyday maintenance as well as prepare to fight.
For more detail, see our story in Monday’s Navy Times.