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Britt Native Supports U.S. Navy Shipyard Surge as Part of COVID-19 Response

By Danna Eddy, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Public Affairs Officer

PORTSMOUTH NAVAL SHIPYARD, Maine – A 2003 graduate of West Hancock High School and native of Britt, Iowa, is serving at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine, as part of the largest mobilization of reservists in Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) history. The mobilization is tied directly to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Petty Officer 1st Class Gabe Rounds is one of the reserve sailors deployed to the Navy’s four public shipyards as part of the Surge Maintenance (SurgeMain) program.  Established in 2005 to augment the Navy’s organic civilian shipyard workforce in times of need, SurgeMain has 2,200 enlisted reserve sailors and 240 reserve officers across 75 units.

“2020 has been a year of uncertainty and chaos,” Rounds said. “Having the opportunity to jump into the fight and directly provide support to our Navy has been truly rewarding. The opportunity to physically see the results of our (Navy Reservists/SurgeMain) efforts is unbelievably motivating.”

Between mid-March and late June, up to 25 percent of the naval shipyards’ production workforce had been on administrative leave due to being at high risk for severe complications tied to the COVID-19 virus. As a result, the four shipyards collectively experienced schedule impacts for most of the ships and submarines undergoing maintenance. This delayed maintenance work could result in delays to ship and submarine maintenance which could cause disruptions to the Navy’s deployment schedules and require ships and sailors to remain forward-deployed for longer periods of time.

NAVSEA, the largest command within the Navy, oversees the construction, delivery and maintenance of all the Navy’s commissioned ships and operates four naval shipyards – Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, VA, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, ME, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, WA, and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Honolulu, HI. Workers at each of these shipyards perform a vital role in national defense by performing maintenance on ships, submarines and aircraft carriers required for combat-ready fleet forces.

“The four naval shipyards are critical to providing deployable, combat-ready warships for our Sailors and Marines,” said NAVSEA’s Commander Vice Adm. Bill Galinis. “Augmenting our organic civilian workforce with SurgeMain Reservists allows us to address the maintenance challenges generated by the pandemic so we can return ships back to the Fleet.”

“Working in my shop, I am responsible for the rip-out, maintenance, re-installation and testing of integral submarine systems,” Rounds said. “I enjoy working side by side with amazing sailors and shipyard workers while increasing the readiness of our Navy.”

According to Rounds, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Britt.

“Coming from a town built on hard work, discipline, teamwork and success have directly contributed to how I approach every day,” Rounds said. “In my childhood years, I was often lost in my own thoughts and desires, but those foundational principles combined with the routine and patriotism that was sharpened by the military, have produced the focus needed to carry out the mission.”

As a member of the U.S. Navy, Rounds, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.

“While the initial call was a lot to digest, knowing that I am directly affecting the readiness of the fleet, I couldn’t feel more proud of the mission at hand,” Rounds added.

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