LHA ENGINEERING FACILITIES
The Engineering Departments on the Navy’s five 40,OOO-ton complex amphibious assault ships (LHAs) had all the engineering machinery and electronic equipment used by a city–and a little bit more.
Operating with the largest ‘boilers on any Navy ship, LHAs had Engineering Departments which were divided into five divisions, including: A (Auxiliaries) Division; AS (Assault) Division; E (Electrical) Division; MP (Main Propulsion) Division; and R (Repair) Division.
The A Division dealt with air conditioning (800 tons of air conditioning capacity on each LHA ship), refrigeration, three sewer treatment plants, laundry, galley (food preparation) equipment, 15 air compressors, and the ships’ ballasting system.
The AS Division was responsible for the ship’s stern gate, the monorail (for cargo handling in the well deck), all cargo elevators, all ramps in the well deck, and elevators, including medical elevators (to transport casualties from the flight deck to the medical treatment areas of the ship).
The E Division had responsibility for four large steam-driven generators (of 2,400 kilowatts each), electrical power throughout the ship, electronics equipment, nearly 700 telephones, closed circuit television, and all electrical motors.
The MP Division was in charge of the two main engines, each having 35,000 shaft horsepower and all machinery associated with them, the ship’s two huge boilers, two water distilling plants (also called “evaporators”), and all steam turbines.
The two main engines required 12 hours after the ship is berthed at the pier to cool down, a process which was controlled and watched closely so they didn’t cool down too fast and be damaged in the process. Additionally, before the ship left port, the boilers and most machinery were started and warmed up about eight hours prior to departure (called “light off”).
The R Division handled all welding on the ship, all toilet equipment and fixtures, and damage control operations should fire break out or other mechanical emergency occur at sea.
The Engineering Department covered a wide spectrum of the ship’s operation, and as one member of the department aboard SAIPAN put it, Engineering personnel “are the first ones on the ship as it prepares to get underway, and the last ones off when the ship ties up in port.”
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