As I mentioned in my Post “Keeping the Fleet in the Fight – Then and Now,” VADM Kevin McCoy (Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command), RADM Thomas (Commander, Naval Surface Force, Atlantic) and I have been working to improve our ship’s maintenance performance and achieve their expected service life through proper engineering, planning, and execution of availabilities and class maintenance plans. Although we have a long way to go, we are headed in the right direction and have set in motion a set of initiatives to get at the root problems which have caused our current challenges. Some of these initiatives are:
• Reconstituting RMC Capability and Capacity – One of our primary goals to improve surface ship maintenance is to re-establish that “virtuous training cycle” where Sailors roll ashore and receive Journeyman training which will enhance their skills and better prepare them for their next sea tour. Next year, we are adding 385 civilians and 400 military personnel with the goal of adding an additional 248 civilians and 1,187 military personnel over the next five years.
• Implementing Total Ships Readiness Assessments – TSRA is a common integrated process to plan, identify, assess, document, repair, validate ship’s Current Ship’s Maintenance Project (CSMP), validate ship’s systems configuration and provide self sufficiency maintenance training to ship‘s force with the expectation of ensuring operational availability goals are met through the execution of total ship systems operational assessments and functional verifications. TSRA will be planned and executed by the Regional Maintenance Centers on all Surface Ships.
• Established Surface Maintenance Engineering Planning Program (SURFMEPP) – On 8 November, 2010 NAVSEA stood-up SURFMEPP which is responsible for managing the long-term maintenance requirements for ships in the surface fleet. SURFMEPP has expanded the scope of Surface Ship Life Cycle Management (SSLCM) Activity and is identifying, managing, resourcing and planning the execution of the necessary technical requirements that will enable each ship to reach its expected service life. Additionally, NAVSEA will be assisting CNSL and CNSP in establishing a more robust depot maintenance management staff in the N43 directorates with embedded Availability Work Package (AWP) managers.
• Maintenance & Repair Work Certification process - To ensure work completed during CNO availabilities and CMAVs results in ‘first-time readiness’, NAVSEA is establishing a work certification process to (1) ensure work packages contain requisite content that yields a ‘warship ready for tasking’ at the completion of the availability, and (2) to ensure that proper quality assurance is built into the production and test process to avoid rework, milestone delays, cost escalation and impact on ship’s employment schedules.
• Established Workforce Development Program – Developing standardized training plans for critical maintenance team members (Project Manager, Ship Building Specialist, Assessments Coordinator, Contract Specialist, Integrated Test Coordinator, Port Engineer, and Integrated Project Team) resulting in common standards and certifications.
• Stood-up SEA 21 Readiness Task Forces – To perform coordinated, comprehensive, holistic assessments of systems and ship classes and develop recommended actions to improve readiness. For example, the MCM Class Task Force identified 51 actions to improve the readiness of our MCM force and those actions are currently being implemented throughout the Fleet.
• Improving Corrosion Control – Effective Corrosion Control is one of the most fundamental components to maintaining our platforms. We currently have Corrosion Control Assistance Teams (CCAT) supporting Norfolk, Little Creek, and Mayport and are establishing CCAT support on the West Coast and our Forward Deployed Naval Forces in Japan. We are also implementing corrosion control fundamentals training for all-hands training on our ships. Developing a plan for large scale testing of improved corrosion control technologies to bring the latest coatings and materials from industry to our surface ships.
• Improving Deck-plate Material Readiness and Sailor Proficiency - NAVSEA 21 and CNRMC are deploying maintenance assistance teams and systems readiness teams to train Sailors in safe equipment operations and PMS execution. NAVSEA is capturing the experience from these engagements to improve PMS products, technical schoolhouse training, equipment maintenance strategies, sparing/COSAL and technical documentation. Noteworthy efforts have been in the areas of AEGIS/SPY System Alignment and Groom Teams (SAGT), Valve Maintenance Assistance Teams (VMAT), Deck University, and Auxiliaries Maintenance Assistance Teams (AMAT).
• System Sustainment - NAVSEA has been building lifecycle sustainment capability for shipboard systems and equipment to ensure that their material condition is regularly monitored (Distance Support); that meaningful system health metrics are captured; their maintenance strategies and technical training content are correct; that equipment obsolescence is proactively managed; and that logistic documentation is accurate and current.
• Single Surface Training Integrator (SSTI) – Following a best practice used in the submarine community, NAVSEA has established PMS 339, Single Surface Training Integrator, to act as the Navy’s program manager for Sailor technical training for all shipboard systems. PMS 339 will fuse technical training requirements and validate them through various OPNAV sponsor shops and execute technical training budgets assigned to them. The intent is to have clear and unambiguous accountability for the effectiveness of Sailor technical training for the life of a system (‘cradle to grave’).
These are just a few of the initiatives that ADM Walsh, VADM McCoy, VADM Hunt, RADM Thomas, and I are executing to improve our surface ship maintenance; many of them are temporary initiatives focused on re-establishing fundamental processes and identifying programs and processes that are ineffective and need to be eliminated.
As I have mentioned in the past, we established many organizations and processes over time which never got after the fundamentals. For example, one of the lessons we learned with LPD-17 was that we did not have a comprehensive electronic database or paper Equipment Deficiency Log (EDL) to track propulsion plant deficiencies. With all of the BoDs, EXCOMMs, Oversight Councils, Enterprise Initiatives, afloat applications, and Integrated Readiness Teams, we didn’t have a simple mechanism in place to accurately track the current status of USS SAN ANTONIO’s propulsion plant…
These initiatives above are not about “reinventing the wheel,” but are focused on doing what we know from 235 years of experience works – proper engineering, effective maintenance planning and execution, accurate assessment, accurate record keeping, steady application of sufficient resources, and effective maintenance training focused on maintaining our standards of operational readiness.
All the best, JCHjr