NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The recurring theme in Naval Aviation has been “We need more people, planes and parts.” In an effort to break that pattern, Naval Aviation implemented the Naval Sustainment System (NSS) in fall 2018 to change how it conducts business.
A collaboration between military and industry leaders to remove barriers, accelerate actions and improve processes, NSS encourages the adoption of commercial best practices and empowers commands to make changes. NSS is also a complementary strategy to the Performance to Plan (P2P) initiative, which focuses on training, warfighting demands and aligning priorities of materiel and operational readiness stakeholders.
To evaluate the results of these efforts, Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) leaders visit installations and organizations throughout the year.
These Boots on the Ground (BoG) events provide leadership with an on the ground analysis of P2P and NSS efforts. They also afford the opportunity to see firsthand how maintenance and supply activities have incorporated better business practices. The goal is to elevate P2P barriers and readiness challenges while showcasing best practices.
At Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic (FRCMA), NAE leaders were given a look at how NSS and P2P have affected the organization during a BoG event at Naval Station Norfolk in August.
“We conduct these events because we want to check on the Naval Sustainment System reforms,” said Vice Adm. Dean Peters, commander, Naval Air Systems Command. “Are we actually making progress? Is there something that is needed here? We are advocating for you all for MILCON [military construction], manpower and PRL [program-related logistics], but there isn’t much we can do about those right now. We’re here to identify and knock down any barriers that we can help with.”
Following command overview briefs, Capt. Matthew Duffy, commodore, Airborne Command Control and Logistics Wing (ACCLW), shared results of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and C-2 Greyhound type/model/series NSS approach to readiness by capitalizing on lessons learned from FRC Southeast in Jacksonville, Florida.
“We’ve had eight months of month-to-month increases in the number of E-2D MC [mission capable] aircraft—that’s eight straight months of improvement. We’ve had a lot of positive trendlines with NSS, but we are still short by a margin below our MC need number for E-2Ds. Our No. 1 readiness constraint is a lack of key, critical spare parts specific to this aircraft and its weapons system,” Duffy said.
The wing brought this issue to the Reliability Control Board—part of the NSS engineering and maintenance reform pillar—noting that some of the E-2D components are not living up to their predicted life expectancy, he said.
Next, NAE leaders and stakeholders visited members of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 120 and the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit (CNATTU) in Norfolk.
CNATTU has implemented Broad Unscheduled Rapid Support Training (BURST), which delivers a condensed version of the standardized instruction to Naval Aviation maintenance technicians at their squadrons.
“We just conducted this training last month for the first time. The training is made up of eight hours of classroom instruction followed by 30 hours of practical training, which allows us to teach technical training solutions,” said Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic Ryan Schaal, an instructor at CNATTU Norfolk. “They get to perform detailed maintenance actions on a specific platform such as system components, troubleshooting and operational checks. BURST allows a faster response time because it increases a maintainer’s level of knowledge required to complete their tasks.”
At FRCMA’s E-2D, T-56 and MH-53E T-64 engine lines, leaders observed how FRC reform initiatives were incorporated including the adoption of proven commercial practices to maximize quality and cost efficiency while minimizing cycle times.
“So far, we really like this [FRC reform] system. It has allowed our detachment to meet this fiscal year’s production goal of 17 [MH-53E T-64] engines, but we are still falling short of the global pool engine requirements,” said Aviation Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Robin Pruitt. “We have the ability to produce more, but we are suffering from key critical component shortages.”
The recurring theme of “lack of parts” shifted to a manpower shortage at FRCMA.
“Currently, there are no impacts to operational readiness or the flight line, but the problem is that we are running crisis mode because our civilian manning is at 50 percent,” explained Lt. Cmdr. John Sumner, regional supply officer at Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Norfolk. “It has an effect on the people who are here, but the pressure that we run around here 24/7 is going to start having impacts especially in the near future and on the flight line.”
To address manpower, FRCMA has created an apprenticeship program in response to the loss of talent due to retirement and other opportunities, such as competition from the naval and private shipyards in the area.
“One of our mitigation strategies is to get that talent, home grow it and build it up from the bottom,” explained R.D. Jones, production manager at FRCMA’s Voyage Repair Team (VRT). “We’re building it from the ground up so it’s going to take us some time to get that talent skilled up to the level we need them to be, but we know this is going to work.”
Leadership acknowledged the accomplishments and challenges addressed at the BoG.
“This is a continual process, but having the stakeholders and organizations represented here that are critical to the support of the fleet is really important,” Peters said. “We picked up on a few new best practices here and we were able to visualize the work they are doing here. The tone of this BoG was very optimistic despite the action items that we need to address and that illustrates Naval Sustainment System at work.”
For more news from Naval Aviation Enterprise, visit www.navy.mil/local/NAE/.