16 June 2011

Initiatives to Improve Maintenance Performance

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


Anonymous said...

Admiral, when you retire the Navy is REALLY gonna miss you!!! You are awesome!!!

Old Navy Vet

Anonymous said...

Good to see these initiatives being announced and rolled out.

Curious on how well SEA 21 RTFs and SURFMEPP will work together.

Also, recommend SEA 21, SURFMEPP and/or RMCs interface with shipbuilder(s) on corrosion control intiatives as well system/component maintenance improvement ideas.

v/r RAC

NVYGUNZ said...


Those sound like awesome upper-level initiatives. I am sure, holistically, they will improve maintenance performance... But, I still believe in my opinion (and experience), we need to do more work on the deckplates. The Sailor and his/her CoC is still responsible for daily shipboard maintenance and upkeep. Be it planned, preventative or corrective. Until we properly train those folks and hold them accountable all the way down the CoC, it will never make to it full fruition. The enlisted force, your maintenance force, still doesn't have solid maintenance fundamentals licked yet. Although better... The only official instructor led 3M training (NETC sanctioned), for example, that I am aware of if the 3M Coordinator course, which is under revision. We need more and all the way down the chain (both enlisted and officer).

Additionally, in my opinion, until we get maintenance (3M, et al) back to the fore front we will never get to full fruition either. That would mean changing the emphasis on "other-than" maintenance and shipboard operation, like motorcycle safety, career development boards, pts, erb, etc, etc..., back to maintenance and shipboard ops. We have lost some focus and moved it from our ships to our people programs. Sir, our "tail" is getting longer and our bite (ships) are getting softer. For a comparison, as an enlisted leader, I am more apt to get fired or scolded for not conducting a cdb or delivering safety training, than failing spot checks or failing an inspection... We need to leave the Chiefs alone, so they can get off the (now mandatory) computer programs/training and from behind their desks and back leading their Sailors on the deckplates.... Back to rolling up their sleeves and delivering OJT and real leadership! Resetting a "maintenance culture" with the everyday Sailor will go a long way in your initiatives.

As always Sir, thank you for your time and service. I hope you understand my point of view.


Anonymous said...


This is an amazing array of maintenance initiatives to improve our navy's material and personnel readiness. I, for one, am eager to see how well these dovetail together across the full spectrum of material readiness.

Given your 30,000 foot view across the navy, it is readily apparent to me that these initiatives are aimed at the full spectrum material readiness across the fleet, and across the ship's life cycle. My immediate concern, if any, is how well these will be implemented at the shipboard and deck-plate level. It is great to see new initiatives to track personnel training and expertise across the command.

I know commands will have some growing pains with any change including TSRAs but hopefully this will also help to curtail INSURV failures. And will assist commands in adopting a more effective continual maintenance process as recent training changes have yielded greater mission readiness.

Thank you sir for sharing these initiatives here and across the Fleet. I am eager to work with you in continually improving our navy.



ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr USN said...

NVYGUNZ and DJK, you both bring up very important points that need to be understand by all of us - from the Fleet Commander with the 30,000 foot view to the Work Center Suervisors on the deck plates.
All these initiatives come to naught without a well-functioning 3M/PMS program on our ships. And that means COs/XOs/CMCs who understand the criticality of their roles in overseeing and sustaining the 3M/PMS program and the maintenance requirements the program drives as well as Dept Heads/DivOs/LCPOs/LPOs/Work Center Sups who are properly trained to carry out their roles in the day-to-day administration and execution of 3M/PMS.
And that means WE have to get the training back where it needs to be so our leaders understand their responsibilities BEFORE they get to the ship in their leadership positions.
A very big part of our shipboard maintenance improvement plan will be working with VADM Hunt and RADM Thomas to get the deckplate training where it MUST be to support what we MUST do to get our ships to their expected service life in good shape.
Training, training and more training on the fundamentals of our profession - and it's got to be quality training at the right time to properly augment the OJT on the ship.
A long, hard haul awaits but WE CAN DO IT. All the best, JCHjr

Captain Jerry said...

Admiral, sounds like you guys are definitely on the road to recovery and to better long term sustainment. I would respectfully recommend that you sync up the "virtual training loop" (i.e., sea-to shore repair facilities-to "C" school training-to back to sea) with a strong shipboard mentorship program so that your apprentice and journeymen engineers go on to become master engineers and mentors them selves. I could envision a virtual program that includes electronic classroom training with accessibility over the net from anywhere in the world. The interactive group exchange to discussing and resolving engineering problems (perhaps even by class ship) would be invaluable. I'd even go so far as to tie in NAVSEA and perhaps other key SYSCOM type desks to get their involvement, input, and advice on solving key recurring CASREPS, parts failures, etc. Very respectfully, one of your old shipmates.

Anonymous said...

8 of the 10 listed initiatives are assessments/outside 'helping' programs that sound great in a power-point briefings. Drive those down to the DIVO and CPO level and they result in an increase of clipboard holding folks who make up yet another laundry list of things the ship needs to do...each one interrupting ship's force efforts to try and clear the last clipboard group of deficiencies. We now have RMCs who will wait for the paper to be properly processed and a WAF generated/printed/inhand before a repair tech is allowed to embark a ship to turn a screwdriver. Once again the paper (tail) is wagging the dog (repair) because of poor documentation on a ship (LPD-17) that should never have been accepted by NAVSEA in the first place. How about some quality shipchecks by the gazillion SBSers before an SRA package is put on the street for the MSMOs to fix? The port engineers used to be present 70-80% of the time on ships checking problems and now they are spending 80% of their time in offices pushing paper before they can get a tech on the deckplates. Take a look at the resultant of the paper requirements on the fixer-uppers before we beat our chest on the great things coming our way.
When we start cancelling INSURVs because ships haven't passed their C5RAs and PIG (pre-INSURV Grooms) then the credibility of what the INSURVs were created for in the first place (to show CNO/Congress a day in the normal life of a ship) is a sham. Send a 'no-notice' INSURV to a ship not scheduled for an exam and get a reality check.

Retired 0-6