Story by MCSN Cole Schroeder
It’s a yearly event that attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators from different cities across the country. This single event can mean the difference between being National Football League (NFL) champions and nothing more than a runner up. In the spirit of winning, in the wise words of the fictional race car driver Ricky Bobby, “if you ain’t first, you’re last.”
Feb. 5 marks the date of the crowning of the next NFL Super Bowl Champions. February also marks the month the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) steps onto the field for their five-year Super Bowl showdown, the Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV).
INSURV is a rigorous inspection that occurs every five years on board U.S. Navy ships. It is intended to assess the ship’s overall material condition through careful examination of the crew and their daily tasks.
Nimitz has been training for this final five-day inspection since the yard period that started in January 2015. All of this hard work is leading up to the ship’s end goal of a 2017 deployment. Before Nimitz can head out to defend the freedom of the seas, the ship must prove its worth in their biggest game in the last five years.
With the fifth and final phase of the INSURV process fast approaching, Sailors are actively engaged, knocking out Zone Inspection Discrepancy List (ZIDL) hits and taking pride in the motto, “Our Ship, Ownership,” while getting ready for game day.
Aviation Ordinance Master Chief Kenneth Hecker, Weapons department leading chief petty officer, and a senior leader who can be compared to that of a head coach on Nimitz INSURV team, gave a lot of praise to the larger departments and their coordination efforts throughout the INSURV phases.
“It’s actually pretty cool because everyone is working together,” said Hecker.
According to Hecker, there is a group of officers who are coordinating the entire ship and the schedule of events when it comes to evolutions involving INSURV. After they put out a ship-wide plan, it’s brought down to the department and divisional level for further coordination of events. At the very end of the chain, the junior Sailors and work-center supervisors are tasked with the actual maintenance and demonstrations of equipment. This coordination is crucial during the five phases of INSURV.
“Phase one is the introduction, and sort of acts as the meet and greet between the inspectors and Nimitz’ crew,” said Hecker. “Phase two is the initial assessment. During this phase they the INSURV team trains the crew on documenting and identifying deficiencies on board. Phase three is a readiness assessment. This is basically your first practice against INSURV. Phase four is like the pre-game warm up, and phase five, that’s game time.”
According to one Sailor on board, being efficient in getting Nimitz INSURV-ready, and taking care of ZIDL hits boils down to one single action:
“Questioning attitude, and forceful back-up.”
Aviation Boatswain Mate (Handling) 1st Class Michael Flosi, a member of Air Department on board Nimitz, made this one simple statement three separate times and referenced his stellar team when he was asked about what makes his department so effective in preparing for INSURV. Flosi acts as a team captain for Nimitz’ INSURV team. He leads numerous Sailors and jokes when he refers to himself as the “ZIDL God,” but also humbly rejects any direct credit to himself. He says it’s the Sailors who work under his direction and guidance that make Air a leading department in the fight for INSURV.
When it comes to this multi-phase inspection, Flosi said knowing your job is crucial to INSURV success.
“If you don’t know an aspect of your job, there should always be a peer who is able to assist you and work through it,” said Flosi. “If you’re not asking the questions, then you’re not knee-deep in that stuff and you’re not understanding it.”
Flosi’s teammates on Nimitz’ INSURV team adopt his methods of combat, but also bring their own game plan.
“For me, INSURV is actually one of those obstacles that we have to go through before we can be mission-oriented and mission-ready,” said Aviation Boatswain Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Neil Ferrer, a Sailor who works under the guidance of Flosi. “It takes a lot to accomplish all the things that get put together to create the bigger picture of the ship’s mission.”
For Ferrer, a crucial aspect to a successful INSURV period comes down to knowing the strengths of the people he is working with.
“It’s about knowing your people, that’s the key part of it,” said Ferrer. “Everyone was brought up differently, and everyone has a different set of skills. Find their strong suite and adapt to them so they can participate and bring something to the table. Knowing your people is one of the most important aspects in my eyes.”
Ferrer also expressed that attitude is just as big of a factor when it comes to an effective INSURV team.
“Attitude is a wild card, either negative or positive,” said Ferrer. “If you start your day with a negative attitude, it can spread to the guy next to you, and maybe the guy next to him, and so on. Now you’ve poisoned the whole chain. On the other hand, if you spread a good vibe, you’re going to lift the person next to you, and everyone will have a better day.”
INSURV is a necessary part of every ship’s life cycle, and can be less than pleasant but if you attack it the right way and with the right attitude, you can help the ship and better your mind set. On February 5, one team will stand victorious as the new NFL super bowl champion. On Feb. 13th, Nimitz will take the field, and fight for the title of a U.S. Navy INSURV qualified carrier.