Yokosuka: Skilled naval engineer acts as first responder for damaged ships

by Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division
Stripes Japan

Behind the scenes of the U.S. Navy is a unique force unto its own. This civilian group of men and women quietly yield their strength in the form of dedicated fleet support, committed to the success and safety of America’s warfighters.

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division’s (NSWC PHD) Joseph Peterson is a part of this force. With more than 23 years as a Naval engineer, he serves as the Combat Systems Project Engineer (CSPE) at the command’s San Diego duty station, where he provides engineering, integration, test and evaluation, and assessment of surface combat and weapon systems.

Having obtained extensive experience in modernization and maintenance, Peterson owns a special set of skills in line with a concept of operation (CONOP) known as mobile logistics, providing emergent maintenance and repair response to ships at war across multiple areas of responsibility. The idea stems from recent ship collisions; exposing a need for at-sea repair should a war occur.

Peterson is considered a subject matter expert in the field due to his experience assisting the USS Cole’s (DDG 67) transit from Yemen in 2000, initial discussions concerning the USS Porter (DDG 78) collision incident, and his many years as a CSPE, providing valuable insight into triage, investigation, prioritization, repair, and assessment of shipboard weapon systems.

Tasked by Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems 1.0, Peterson helped develop a high-level CONOP focused on mobile logistics. Stipulated in the draft policy was a list of first-responders from NSWC PHD who were poised to deploy should an event occur. With the June 2017 at-sea collision of USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), the draft CONOP suddenly became doctrine and the newly formed team of early responders—including Peterson—set sail for Japan.

Serving as the CSPE aboard DDG-62, Peterson conducted triage of the Aegis Combat System and the Vertical Launch System, ensuring safe offload of the missiles. He then worked with both Commander Seventh Fleet and Commander Pacific Fleet to place the USS Fitzgerald on an expedited path to wholeness, before doing it all over again with the USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) incident in the following months.

“Joe’s story is an example of the many outstanding individuals who in representing NSWC PHD work tirelessly in support of our country and our Navy,” said Vance Brahosky, NSWC PHD deputy technical director. “They are the force behind the fleet—the ones whose dedication for this work keeps our great Navy in fighting trim.”

Peterson’s technical input proved invaluable, as the multimillion-dollar assessments were reported as high as the President of the United States. During these emergent events, his coordination and judgment afforded priceless knowledge transfer, profoundly impacting fleet readiness while maintaining the Navy’s maritime superiority.

NSWC PHD is a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command and provides the global United States Navy fleet with integration, test and evaluation, life-cycle logistics, and in-service engineering for today’s and tomorrow’s warfare systems. Located at Naval Base Ventura County, Calif., NSWC PHD employs more than 2,500 personnel.

Photo Caption:

YOKOSUKA, Japan (July 11, 2017) - The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) sits in Dry Dock 4 at Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka to continue repairs and assess damage sustained from its June 17 collision with a merchant vessel. FLEACT Yokosuka provides, maintains, and operates base facilities and services in support of U.S. 7th Fleet's forward-deployed naval forces, 71 tenant commands and 26,000 military and civilian personnel.

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