The United States Navy’s Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Maryland is nearly finished with its engineered refueling overhaul (ERO) at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
The ERO process refers to a lengthy procedure that nuclear-powered ships go through in which expended nuclear fuel is replaced, along with general renovation, upkeep, and maintenance of the ship. This includes an overhaul of systems, particularly the replacement of distilling plants with a reverse osmosis unit, along with the service turbine generator rotor with a low-sensitivity rotor.
A new 500kW motor generator was also installed in the sub, and the local area network was upgraded.
These overhauls usually occur at midpoint of a submarine’s life in order to keep it operating for its entire design service life. This typically means EROs occur five to twenty years into the life of a sub, so this is a bit late for one that was launched in August of 1991.
This process usually takes one to two years for a submarine. USS Maryland is undergoing a major overhaul that has taken a bit longer though, as its ERO has been going on since December of 2012.
It has been a challenge to wash down the dry dock, as high winds, unusually cold weather, and several inches of snow have slowed down the process. Despite the hardships, NNSY successfully completed undocking.
"The team has shown great perseverance and refused to give up,” said project superintendent John Darlington.
"It took the entire shipyard to help us get through the snow event and we have proven that when everyone works together we can be successful. This is a proud project team and we will continue to work together to give the shipyard more successes in the future.”
Up next for the USS Maryland is system testing and certification, as well as Ship's Force training, before sea trials later this year.
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