Made in AMERICA: COVID 19 Face Coverings

by Petty Officer 1st Class Taylor Jackson
24 April 2020 SOUTH CHINA SEA – Sailors aboard Amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) developed face coverings for the crew as part of the ship’s COVID-19 mitigation effort.

While America has no COVID-19 cases, Department of Defense guidelines require all personnel to wear face coverings while in public spaces. America’s engineering department developed a plan to use shipboard technology to outfit the crew of more than 1,000 Sailors with protective masks.

Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Walter Estrada and Fireman Michelle Jimenez led the team in mask-building efforts. Estrada created a digital prototype and Jimenez used the ship’s laser engraver to craft 2,000 face masks from brown uniform t-shirts.

“Developing the masks was a great opportunity to use my design skills to help other Sailors,” said Estrada. “This was a challenging project, but I’m glad we were able to make a product that is not only beneficial, but easily reproduced using readily-available material.”

The masks made aboard America are available in three sizes and are washable and reusable. The ship is has more than double the amount of masks required for the crew and is capable of producing more masks as needed.

“We did a lot of testing in the beginning to get the process down. Once we got the settings right, the engraver really takes over,” said Jimenez. “While I’ve been doing most of the machine work, a lot of other people have helped, and this whole thing has been a great team effort.”

America, flagship of the America Expeditionary Strike Group, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit team is operating in the 7th Fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with allies and partners and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
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