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18 Navy | Summer 2018 Can you talk a bit about how the maintenance plan will address the backlog of work at the yards? How has that backlog changed and what will be done to increase the maintenance capability of the fleet as the fleet itself grows? We've got a sizable burndown on ships with deferred maintenance. ere's quite a bit lower number of ships that have to have maintenance done on them, so we'll go through those ships and develop specific ship sheets for each of those ships on what's deferred versus what's to go on the maintenance. We've significantly increased our visits to ships and technical assessments and surveys to determine how accurate our projections are. We've moved in alignment with contracting strategy. We've doubled the period on when we lock the pack- ages. We were locking the packages for work around six months before the availability, and we've moved that to about a year before the availability. Operational demands take a particular toll on ships homeported overseas. What is the service doing to address concerns raised in the September Government Accountability Office report on Navy readiness with regard to those ships? In Rota, Spain, across the last five years, we have 15 lost operational days, cumulative. So those ships have been maintained to very specific standards and require- ments. ose availabilities are concentrated availabil- ities of 20 days or less, and ships in Rota almost never get delayed and maintenance doesn't get deferred. So, overall, we're in good shape. Ships in Bahrain, PCs and MCMs [patrol and mine countermeasure ships], are in some cases beyond their expected service lives, and we have extended them as LCS comes into the fleet. We've done extensive main- tenance to PCs. We've reskinned, reworked the hull on all of the PCs throughout the entire fleet. And we have worked on the obsolescence issues with MCMs. But we've put them on very specific schedules. Now we're looking at ships in Japan and whether CONUS fleet ships on a three-year cycle versus forward-deployed ships on two-year cycles is appro- priate, and whether we need to add in more incremental avail- abilities while they're forward deployed is a key issue we're looking at. e other key issue is how long to remain forward deployed. We're pretty much in consensus that's in an eight- to nine-year timeframe, and bring them back to the United States, reset those ships, and discuss whether they should re-forward-deploy or stay in CONUS. So, we're looking at the availability duration, we're serving more incremental availabilities when they are back in port to make sure maintenance gets done, and we're looking at rotational schedules to determine how long they should be forward deployed. The current demands on the surface fleet make it difficult to strike a balance between maintenance availabilities, training and meeting the operational demand. How is the Navy responding on the mainte- nance side to help find that balance? We have the maintenance side of that, and our key issue is to make sure we, at the end of an availability with light-off requirements for plants, don't infringe on the ship's training time. We'll go through the production Sailors hoist scaffolding up the mast of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz April 3. Nimitz is conducting a planned incremental availability at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, Wash., where the ship is receiving scheduled main- tenance and upgrades. MASS COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST 3RD CLASS CHRISTOPHER JAHNKE

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