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Navy Reserve Maintenance Group Saves Time, Money, Manpower

By Navy Chief Petty Officer David Votroubek
Special to American Forces Press Service

SPOKANE, Wash., Oct. 30, 2008 – Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Miriam Verbarg, a boatswain’s mate, watched over a young sailor as he sewed panels on a foul-weather hatch cover.

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Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Miriam Verbarg instructs Navy Seaman Derek Lambert at a newly acquired industrial sewing machine at the Reserve Intermediate Maintenance Activity at Naval Operational Support Center Spokane, Wash. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Charles Lybbert

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Known as a “dogshack,” the small shelter was being made at the Navy Reserve Intermediate Maintenance Activity here to help protect fleet submarine watch standers from the elements.

While the group and what they do may be unfamiliar to many, the RIMA program provides products that have been used by thousands of sailors out in the fleet. RIMA shops manufacture items such as cofferdams, damage-control plugs, podiums, award plaques and bunk curtains to support fleet operations around the world and improve shipboard quality of life.

"The support from RIMA for manufacturing submarine rack curtains has allowed all Norfolk-area submarines to deploy with a full load of rack curtains in excellent repair," said Chief Petty Officer John W. Johnson, a fire control technician who helps to initiate RIMA projects.

One of the most successful RIMA products is a man-movable submarine brow with a counter-balance that allows it to be placed and removed without the aid of a crane. Eliminating crane dependency reduces costs, improves operational flexibility and saves valuable time required to place and remove brows during arrival or when getting underway.

Johnson added that RIMA sailors respond to the needs of the fleet and can change their products to meet those needs.

"RIMA personnel have been very flexible in customizing products such as dogshacks to meet the operational submarine force needs for a portable and rugged product," he said.

Although RIMAs usually support commands within the submarine force, they also can provide services to any fleet asset. The RIMAs charge the requesting command only for the cost of the production materials, while the balance is funded by Navy Reserve Force via Submarine Group 2.

This arrangement saves money on products and services while sustaining a high level of technical and production proficiency within the Navy Reserve. Occasionally, the RIMAs become the only source for repair parts and equipment that are no longer available in the military supply system.

Each activity is manned by reserve-component expeditionary maintenance detachment sailors who work on the projects during their monthly drill weekends. For that reason, projects that can be finished over several drill periods are best suited for RIMA support.

“The key to receiving a requested product within a desired timeframe is advanced planning and scheduling,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tony Marrero, Submarine Group 2 operational support officer.

In addition to the unit here, the RIMA program comprises maintenance activities in Washington, D.C.; Cincinnati; Denver; Great Lakes, Ill.; Eleanor, W.Va.; Louisville, Ky.; and Tucson, Ariz.

"The unit pulls together as a team to produce a final product that directly benefits the fleet," Verbarg said.

After it was finished, several RIMA sailors assembled the dogshack under the gray Spokane skies. Soon, it will protect submarine sailors from worse weather around the world.

(Navy Chief Petty Officer David Votroubek serves with Fleet Public Affairs Center Pacific Detachment Northwest.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageNavy Petty Officer 2nd Class Miriam Verbarg sews a side panel for a new foul-weather hatch cover at the Reserve Intermediate Maintenance Activity at Naval Operational Support Center Spokane, Wash. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Charles Lybbert  
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