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PCU Kidd Shoots Forward with Second Aegis Light-off

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS060619-18
Release Date: 6/19/2006 7:44:00 PM

From Electronics Technician 1st Class David Daris, PCU Kidd Public Affairs

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (NNS) -- PCU Kidd (DDG 100) completed its Aegis Light Off May 30, for a second time.

Aegis light off , or ALO as it is usually called, is the first of eight milestones in a ship's pre-commissioning process.

“While the focus of ALO is the Aegis Fire Control System, nothing could be done without the involvement of everyone in combat systems,” stated Fire Control Division Leading Chief Petty Officer, Chief Fire Controlman Jason Villanueva. “Once started, it allows the uninterrupted testing of the entire combat systems suite.”

Kidd’s first ALO took place May 23, 2005. As the summer of 2005 came to a close, it seemed clear Kidd would get underway as scheduled in November 2006 for Sea Trials. That all changed Aug. 29 when Hurricane Katrina overwhelmed the Gulf Coast. Kidd and the Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Ingalls facility suffered significant damage and had to endure lengthy delays as the shipyard and local area worked to recover from the devastating natural disaster.

“Seeing the amount of damage to the ship and overwhelming destruction in the shipyard really took the wind out of our sails,” said Kidd’s System Test Officer (STO), Lt. Richard Weiss.

Despite the setbacks from Katrina, Kidd’s crew has worked hard to turn misfortune to their advantage. Additional time for testing and training has improved the status of equipment readiness, for example.

“Although the damage to both ship and yard was horrendous, the recovery has been steady, and we applaud the effort by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems,” said Weiss. “In a way, it all worked to our advantage: combat systems is in better condition now than it was before Hurricane Katrina.”

This improvement in readiness is due in large part to the arrival of additional Kidd Sailors. At Kidd’s first ALO, there were only six combat systems personnel on hand, most Aegis trained. Since February, almost 90 crew members are in Pascagoula and more are arriving daily. This means more personnel are on hand to track space discrepancies, get properly trained, and be involved in early system setup.

“It used to be combat systems techs were the first to arrive to a new construction ship. That changed with the new phasing cycles,” said Fire Controlman 1st Class Dave Rackley. “Due to the hurricane, we’ve gone back to the old way, and our people are a part of the entire process again. It’s much more effective.”

May 30, inspections were complete and deadlines met. Systems supporting ALO were online and the spaces looked good. The Mk 34 gun weapon system was the first to be lit-off, and the rest of combat systems followed. For all, it was a long overdue, welcome sight.

“It’s good to walk into Radio Central and see all the lights on and systems brought online by the techs,” observed Electronics Technician 1st Class David Daris. “It’s like the ship is conscious again after being comatose awhile.”

“We decided to use this extra time to get as much additional training as we can for each Sailor,” Kidd’s Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Richard E. Thomas, said. “We’re also maximizing our future by working with SUPSHIP (the Navy Supervisor of Shipbuilding) to have much of our Post Delivery Availability work completed beforehand, thus making it less intrusive and allowing more training time after delivery.”

“As we enter into our second ALO, it’s clear the ship is in far better shape than it was before the storm, and is well on its way to being ready to enter the fleet in the next year,” he added. “Kidd is stronger in spite of Katrina, and will carry ‘On to Victory!’"

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