Moored Training Ship
The USS Sam Rayburn was converted into a training platform - Moored Training Ship (MTS-635). The Sam Rayburn arrived for conversion on February 1, 1986, and on July 29, 1989 the first Moored Training Ship achieved initial criticality. Modifications included special mooring arrangements including a mechanism to absorb power generated by the main propulsion shaft. USS Daniel Webster (SSBN 626) was converted to the second Moored Training Ship (MTS2 / MTS 626) in 1993. The MTS's were once real ballistic missile submarines that, once their missiles were obsolete, the navy elected to turn into training platforms instead of trashing. The Moored Training Ship Site is located at Naval Weapons Station Charleston in Goose Creek, SC. The USS Sam Rayburn is scheduled to operate as an MTS until 2014 while undergoing shipyard availabilities at four year intervals.
La Jolla was the first of two next-generation training ships converted at NNSY in 2019 to become land-based platforms for training nuclear Sailors at the Nuclear Power Training Unit (NPTU) in Charleston, South Carolina. The second, USS San Francisco (SSN 711), had been at NNSY since January 2017.
As the first MTS conversion ever performed at NNSY, and the Navy’s first one in nearly 30 years, the effort proved similar in many ways to constructing the first ship in a new class. During its conversion, La Jolla underwent two complete hull cuts, separating the boat into three pieces, recycling the center section, and adding three new hull sections, adding 76 feet to the overall ship length. The new hull sections arrived from Electric Boat via barge and were craned into the dock. In the midst of that massive undertaking, the conversion also included work typical of engineered overhauls NNSY conducts on other Los Angeles-class submarines.
The conversion’s unprecedented work for the shipyard presented unique challenges in all phases of the project. NNSY naval architects, docking officers and La Jolla project team members collaborated extensively to safely and successfully dock the boat on strongbacks, which are more than twice the height of blocks usually used at NNSY. The docking challenge hinged on having the boat sitting as high in the water as possible without creating an unstable buoyancy condition. This challenge was effectively met by pulling 40,000 pounds of material off the boat before docking, and “superflooding” the dock three feet above the river level during the breasting over of the ship on top of strongbacks.
The Navy has used moored training ships for 30 years, with the current two at NPTU—ex-Sam Rayburn (MTS 635) and exDaniel Webster (MTS 626)—having been converted at Charleston Naval Shipyard. Following that shipyard’s closure in 1996, NNSY assumed maintenance responsibilities of both Rayburn and Webster, to include their upcoming inactivations.
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