By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kyle Goldberg, USS America (LHA 6) Public Affairs
POINT LOMA, Calif. (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) completed a magnetic treatment, known as deperming, at Naval Base Point Loma Magnetic Silencing Facility (MSF) May 21.
Deperming reduces the ship's magnetic signature by flashing the ship's hull with electricity in order to help avoid detection and to minimize marine mine attraction to the steel hull.
America is the first amphibious warship of its class to undergo this process and will once again set another high-standard of excellence, said Michael Nixon, MSF crew cabling supervisor.
"As a first of class, your ship's coil effects are going to establish a standard for subsequent LHAs in this class behind you," said Nixon. "Your ship is different than what we've done before; it's like [deperming] two ships at once."
America's crew took part in hauling on board 152 600-foot cables weighing about 1,200 pounds each. Each cable is two inches in diameter, twice the size of cables used to deperm destroyers which use only 68 cables.
"We wrapped cables at 136 different points along the ship plus hauled eight power feeding cables forward and eight aft," said Lt. Patricia Cunanan, the ship's electrical officer and officer in charge of this evolution.
Once the cables were placed and connected, they were energized with 250 volts direct current (DC) for three-minute intervals in a four to six-hour process.
Cunanan said the heat generated by the amount of current pushed through these large cables created the potential for hazards. In order to help reduce the risk of injury to personnel or equipment, the evolution was completed in increments.
"We energized for three minutes, and then stopped, checked for damage and waited about 30 minutes to let the cables cool down," said Cunanan.
Nixon said the cables must be given enough time to cool, otherwise the protective cover could melt and ignite arcs, causing damage to the deck.
While most of America's crew was involved with loading and offloading the cables, the electrician's mates focused on safety by ensuring the quality of cables was sufficient for the evolution.
"Our job was primarily to do insulation resistance and clean the contacts; this way we have clean solid connections," said Electrician's Mate 2nd Class Grant Syslo, assigned to America.
Once the deperming was complete, the crew began disassembling and removing the cables.
"I hauled and tied down cables. It was not as hard as I thought," said Operations Specialist Seaman Craig Wood, assigned to America. "Our crew was motivated, and even though it was raining some of the time, I think we still finished ahead of time."
The ship returned to Naval Base San Diego following the successful evolution.
"Deperming was an all-hands event," said Cunanan. "I am proud of the work we were able to accomplish as a team in such a short time. I want to thank the Point Loma facility for their flexibility, America's electricians and all Sailors involved."