Reservists under the US Navy’s Surge Maintenance (SurgeMain) programme are being deployed to support ship maintenance, beginning this month.

About 1,629 Reservists will be mobilised to support the backlog work caused by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic at four public shipyards.

The shipyards are Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY), Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY), Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF), as well as Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PHNSY & IMF).

The first group has been dispatched by the US Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA).

Since March, approximately 25% of the naval shipyards’ production workforce were paused due to the high risk prevailing due to the virus.

This resulted in the loss of approximately 50,000 work days a month in the shipyards impacting maintenance schedules.

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NAVSEA commander vice admiral Bill Galinis said: “First and foremost we had to protect our most at-risk people.

“Our shipyards have proven that they can keep their people safe, so we’re returning people from weather and safety leave and folding in SurgeMain Reservists to buy back and expand our production capacity.”

Initially, the first 119 Reservists joined their assigned stations this week with ten checking into PNSY, 41 at NNSY, 43 at PSNS & IMF and 25 at PHNSY & IMF.

The reservists have technical and trade backgrounds. Prior to joining, personnel will undergo short training and onboarding period upon their arrival at the shipyards.

NAVSEA Military and Reserve Programmes director Captain Rich Sussman said: “We’re bringing our sailors in over a twelve-week period so we don’t overwhelm the shipyards and also to ensure we’re taking all the right safety precautions tied to Covid-19.

“All 1,629 Sailors will be on station through September 2021, providing game changing support.”