By Duane Shimogawa -
PEARL HARBOR (KHNL) - Work continues on the drydocked USS Missouri at Pearl Harbor. A crew of more than 200 are working on the large-scale encasement of the ship. This goes from the top of the freeboard to the bottom of the underwater hull.
Ever since last week, crews have been working non-stop on preserving the 'Mighty Mo.' This 18-million dollar project is steering to protect the 887-foot-long vessel. The first stage is getting the ship ready for repairs.
"That's the very slow process getting the ship encapsulated with plastic to make sure that we protect the environment," USS Missouri Memorial Association chief engineer Ron Chavez said.
The work involves 200 people each day. BAE Systems Ship Repair says 90 percent of the workforce is made up of local people. On Wednesday, crews prepare the Battleship Missouri for sand blasting.
"Once the hull is sandblasted, we start the meticulous process of inspecting and repairing the hull," Chavez said.
Officials say encasement is moving rapidly, so this may be the last opportunity to see the exposed hull for more than a month.
"Once it's repaired, we preserve the hull and we bounce the ship," Chavez said. "It's pretty extensive but there's no surprises and I'm very pleased that the ship's in phenomenal shape. We're doing everything we can with BAE's support and all their sub contractors to make sure that we get 'er done right, preserve the ship for the next 20 years."