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The last thing a naval supply officer wants to hear is, “Sorry, the parts are delayed.” That’s precisely why the next step is critical — calling NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support, the U.S. Navy’s end-to-end supply chain integrator. And, in late January, a similar scenario reared its ugly head, but was quickly subdued by NAVSUP WSS’s Transportation and Distribution directorate in Norfolk, Va.
As the USS Wasp undergoes maintenance and modernization in Virginia, supplies are shipping from myriad mission partners to ensure the vessel returns to the Fleet, operationally ready. However, most parts on a ship, especially a ship as sophisticated as the USS Wasp, aren’t at the local hardware or auto parts store. In some cases, mission partners’ facilities are on the other side of the planet.
Capt. Mark Garrigus, supply officer, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, understood the gravity of the situation and the cascading effects of a single delay in ship maintenance. When Garrigus was told the metal plates for the USS Wasp may be delayed in Europe, he knew exactly who to call: NAVSUP WSS Transportation and Distribution.
“Getting ships through maintenance on time is crucial,” said Garrigus. “For every delay, even small ones, the cascading effects may be realized across the Fleet financially and also further delays in other maintenance and repair schedules.” After exhausting options through normal shipping channels, Garrigus knew the shipping and transportation experts at NAVSUP WSS T&D could make this happen.
NAVSUP WSS Transportation and Distribution provides transportation and related financial management for the efficient, safe and most cost effective movement of passengers, mail and cargo, while maintaining expertise regarding transportation and distribution analysis, forward positioning recommendations and strategic mobility support.
On Jan. 27, Garrigus reached out to NAVSUP WSS T&D, with a heavy metal conundrum. Metal plates that will later be transformed for condenser and inlet tube repairs while the vessel is in dry-dock, were sitting in Europe and potentially delayed, negatively impacting planned maintenance timelines on the USS Wasp. The metal plates weigh more than two tons each, are awkwardly shaped and needed to be transported in a specific configuration to ensure the cargo’s integrity when it arrived in the United States. In other words, it’s not something commercial delivery services would be picking up on the front steps of an office. After speaking with Garrigus, logistics experts at NAVSUP WSS T&D sprang into action.
Pam Young, operations department head, Transportation Operations, NAVSUP WSS T&D, said she knew the timeline was going to be tight, but had no doubt that they could get it done. “I love calls like this,” said Young. “This really allows our teams to excel,” she said. “Ninety nine percent of the time, you never hear about the work we do, because we keep things running smoothly behind the scenes. It’s that one time when things go awry, you’ll hear about. Not this time. Not on our watch!”
The complications surrounding this shipment included speaking with multiple shipping companies to determine the best course of action to ensure on-time delivery. Jacquelyn Jackson, Navy freight management team lead, NAVSUP WSS T&D Operations, contacted numerous carriers for rate quotes and make certain they could meet the required delivery date and manage the unusually awkward and heavy parcel. At the end of the day, FedEx was the best carrier to meet the challenge.
Once a shipper was determined, it was time to put all the pieces of the puzzle in place. For that, Young reached out to Matt Keifer, Worldwide Accounts Manager at FedEx.
“I knew Matt was a rock star, and could help us get this across the finish line,” said Young. According to Young, Keifer coordinated with key players across multiple time zones, countries, mission partners, governmental organizations, commercial shippers, and customs agents.
Keifer ensured a specialized truck was on site Feb. 3, to load, secure and begin the 10-hour trek from Toulon to Charles De Gaulle International Airport in Paris. Simultaneously, Keifer was working with customs and exports agents. According to Keifer, there were legitimate concerns, COVID-19 restrictions could cause a delay and lead to additional costs. With Keifer’s constant communication and stewardship, the plates left France on schedule without further delay.
Once the shipment was on the ground at the FedEx Hub in Memphis, Tenn., Keifer was a step ahead. He already made arrangements for the final legs of the shipment to Norfolk and Portsmouth. Additionally, Keifer was in constant contact with the NAVSUP WSS T&D leadership team, as well as the shipyard, providing regular updates on the status and location of the inbound shipment as it made its way to Virginia—a day ahead of schedule.
“Naval logistics is complex work that requires constant insight and oversight,” said Rear Adm. Peter Stamatopoulos, Commander, NAVSUP. “The number of avenues available for delivery of critical parts is limited only by the resourcefulness of the Navy’s Supply Corps officers, enlisted personnel and civilian subject matter experts. This is another example of our men and women going that last tactical mile to ensure combat capability for our Fleet.”
NAVSUP WSS is one of 11 commands under Commander, NAVSUP. Headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and employing a diverse, worldwide workforce of more than 22,500 military and civilian personnel, NAVSUP's mission is to provide supplies, services, and quality-of-life support to the Navy and joint warfighter. Learn more at www.navsup.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/navsupwss and https://twitter.com/navsupsyscom.
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