KITTERY, Maine (NNS) -- USS Albuquerque (SSN 706) is back with the fleet, and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) has set the new record for the fastest Engineered Refueling Overhaul (ERO) ever -- completing Albuquerque in 22.3 months.
The submarine started a refueling overhaul at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) July 1, 2001, and immediately, the team of submarine maintenance experts, working closely with ship's force personnel, went to work and achieved a "fast start."
The "fast start" concept, a term coined by the naval shipyard community and its headquarters, the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), describes the effect of having a complete project plan, as well as the necessary materials and work documents, ready to go from the outset.
Project Superintendent John Edic attributes the success of this availability to the team's powerful work ethic, and the comprehensive preliminary planning leading to precise execution. He describes these efforts as setting a new benchmark.
Albuquerque's crew was integral to the success of this project, and from the beginning, it was clear that Albuquerque was on the fast track to set a new performance standard.
Like clockwork, using modern management techniques for planning, scheduling and executing work, including a state-of-the-art computer network based system called AIM, or Advanced Industrial Management, work and testing was systematically completed on or ahead of schedule. The team pushed hard and successfully undocked the submarine three weeks early, helping the availability stay ahead of schedule.
"That set us up to finish the plan we had laid out," Edic explained. "We were in good shape."
This success comes on the heels of an earlier record breaking performance on USS City of Corpus Christi (SSN 705) -- an ERO completed one week shy of 24 months.
Capt. Kevin M. McCoy, PNSY commander, was not surprised by the team's repeat performance.
"We said we could do it, and we delivered ahead of schedule and 9 percent below the notional budget," he said. "The Navy needs its naval shipyards to continue to achieve even better levels of performance in ship depot maintenance. We took the lessons learned from each availability and applied them smartly to improve our work processes. We looked for innovative ways to perform maintenance for less cost, and we focused our attention on doing the job right the first time, every time, with the highest quality.
McCoy added that based on the lessons learned from Albuquerque, the shipyard expects to perform even better on the current ERO of USS Norfolk (SSN 714).
The PNSY team accepted the "11-20" challenge of the fleet customer and is working to make it a reality. "11-20" refers to the stretch goal of the months necessary to execute a Depot Modernization Period and an ERO, respectively.
Additionally, the shipyard is focused on meeting NAVSEA Commander Vice Adm. Phillip Balisle's challenge to all NAVSEA activities to "change the behavior and performance of our organizations" in support of Sea Enterprise.
McCoy believes the shipyard's challenge is to continue to identify best business practices, implement lean production efficiencies and be creative in finding the best solutions to support our warfighters.
"Portsmouth's wealth of experience working submarine maintenance puts us in a great position to export our lessons learned to the other naval and private sector shipyards, so that submarines are returned to the fleet sooner and at lower cost," he said. "In this way, our efforts are leveraged across over 40 major submarine availabilities the rest of this decade, and have a huge impact on the submarine force and the Navy."
Albuquerque is a nuclear-powered Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine homeported in Groton, Conn.
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