Military

City native supports Navy shipyard surge as part of COVID-19 response

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A 2014 Crawfordsville High School graduate and native of Crawfordsville is serving at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine, as part of the largest mobilization of reservists in Naval Sea Systems Command history. The mobilization is tied directly to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Kane Sosbe is one of the reserve sailors deployed to the Navy’s four public shipyards as part of the Surge Maintenance 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.

“The work I do will help the Navy stay on schedule and ensure the Navy continues its status as a global defender of the seas,” Sosbe said.

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, Virginia, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, Washington, and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Honolulu, Hawaii. 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.”

Sosbe is responsible for auxiliary equipment to ensure water and air conditioning operate throughout the boat.

“The work I do keeps running water and a/c operational, which in turns help the crew,” Sosbe said.

According to Sosbe, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Crawfordsville.

“The lesson I learned in my hometown was that it’s better to work as a unit rather than by yourself,” Sosbe said.

As a member of the U.S. Navy, Sosbe, 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.

“I’ve been called upon at a time of great need like my uncle and father,” Sosbe added. “While the situation isn’t quite Vietnam or Desert Shield, my country has called upon me to serve.”

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