Navy Joint Efforts Support Shore Power Requirements for USS Gerald. R Ford

July 14, 2021 | By Petty Officer 1st Class Amberleigh Cantrell, NAVFAC EXWC
Four Seabee’s from Mobile Utilities Support Equipment (MUSE), a specialty program within the Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command, Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (NAVFAC EXWC) portfolio, traveled to the Newport News Shipyard to install two mobile substations on pier 2 to support the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).

As the lead ship of her class, the nearly four-year-old Ford will undergo its planned incremental availability (PIA) for the execution of depot-level maintenance, alterations and modifications set to improve the ship’s military capabilities beginning in September.

Prior to the PIA, two new mobile substations—a never-before-seen asset from MUSE—were installed at pier 2 to offer a temporary power solution for CVN 78.

Ford is part of the new Ford Class carriers that need accessibility to different voltage requirements when homeported. The Nimitz Class carriers—that most piers are wired for—do not offer the voltage support required for Ford Class carriers. A MUSE substation provides shore power and associated transformer technology to convert a shore facility with high voltage supply to the medium voltage requirements of the Ford class ships.

In February 2019, MUSE joined forces with the NAVFAC Acquisitions Department, C&C Power Inc., the Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair, engineers from the Newport News Shipyard, and Program Executive Office Aircraft Carriers to award a contract for the procurement and design of the new substation asset. Outlined by the Naval Sea Systems Command Program Executive Office, MUSE’s technology—specifically the mobile aspect of a MUSE substation—was a desirable trait for transforming the pier 2 shore facilities voltage requirements. These requirements, in addition to transportability, include supporting class maintenance, shipboard testing, and meet the motor start, regulation and fault current requirements.

The new substation asset began construction at the contractor’s facilities, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project experienced several delays, including material shortages and shipping delays. Originally set for completion in December 2020, the delays pushed the substation completion date to May 2021 with little time to spare, as Ford will pull into port by the end of the summer.

During the final stages of the installation, MUSE technicians completed electrical testing for all substation components, operational testing, customer training, and finally energized the substations.

"I would like to thank the MUSE technicians for their professionalism and the excellent quality of service the team extended to the NNS during their visit," said Kecia Ballen, NNS Quality Engineer. "The presence of the tech team at NNS was essential in the training of the MUSE unit, and showed we are one team in service and strength."

“This project has been a difficult one with several moving parts,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Amber Cantrell, MUSE Contracting Officer Representative. “This is an experience I will never forget. I had the pleasure of helping design the substations, and monitored the contract from beginning to end. Supporting the warfighter is the most rewarding job and I am thankful for the opportunities and support both NAVFAC EXWC and the MUSE team have afforded me.”