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January 23, 2020 – Submarine Certification – Everyone’s Job

Many of you have recently watched a training video concerning VIRGINIA Class certification.  So why was it important for you to learn about our certification process?

Our submarine certification process is structured to ensure “maximum reasonable assurance” that the material condition of the ship is satisfactory for the safe conduct of trials and operation.  To provide this assurance, we rely on our workforce to comply with all material control and work processes.  Our certification system (7G and 3G databases) relies on:

  • Design/Engineering information to define material, work and testing requirements to support ship delivery in accordance with specification requirements
  • Work instructions to translate the design/engineering information into sequenced, discrete work and test packages
  • Performance of work and test in accordance with the detailed instructions and completion of the required Objective Quality Evidence (test data and signatures for work completion)
  • Re-entry controls on and documentation of any work performed on a component or system after initial completion
  • Identification of any issues or non-conformances in a timely manner
  • Tying any issues or liabilities identified to the specific hulls affected
  • Resolving any issues or liabilities in a manner that meets the technical requirements

Our certification is EB’s written guarantee that the material condition of the ship is in compliance with the authorized design and meets all requirements.  This robust system of accountability starts with you.  Everyone is responsible to ensure that we document all known material conditions immediately upon identification.  To support the upcoming certification of USS Vermont (SSN 792), you may be asked by your supervisor whether you are aware of any emergent issues that may affect the material condition of the ship or component we are certifying.

Our certification process relies on your adherence to procedures. This starts with you; therefore, the training is to ensure we all:

  • Know how our systems and processes work
  • Operate within these processes
  • Demonstrate formality and rigor in how we execute work, document and adjudicate liabilities

If you are unsure of whether or not an issue or liability is applicable to a hull before certification or have questions on the certification process, ask your supervisor.

The certification process also validates that we are in compliance with special emphasis program requirements (SUBSAFE, DSS-SOC and Fly-by-wire).  Last week’s Groton WIB discussed the USS Grayback incident that resulted in the death of five Navy divers and spawned the DSS-SOC certification process.  Every year, our SUBSAFE training reminds us of the loss of the USS Thresher; we listen silently as we hear the sounds of bulkheads and the hull collapsing and reflect on the lives that were lost with those sounds. From the Thresher tragedy, the SUBSAFE Program was born.  The special emphasis processes are focused on ensuring that uncontrolled flooding does not occur, the ship can recover from a flooding casualty, ship control is maintained and DSS personnel can be recovered without injury if there is an accident. Proper execution and material compliance for work in these programs is critical.

We must ensure that the submarines that we send to sea are ready for safe conduct of trials and operations in an environment that would otherwise not sustain human life.

Larry Runkle, VA Program Director

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