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31 Association of the United States Navy MASS COMMUNICATION SEAMAN MEGAN WOLLAM requirements. "I have 17 different classes of ship among the 46 RRF ships, five classes between the eight school ships, and both MDA ships are different classes," said Tokarski. "Most of them are older ships, and 28 of them are steam propulsion." e average age of the fleet is in the mid-40s. All but one — the school ship on the Great Lakes — are in a harsh, saltwater environment. "It creates a big chal- lenge to keep them ready to sail," he said. Tokarski said MARAD is doing some selective upgrades to extend the current fleet out to 60 years, but that there is an urgent need to recapitalize the RRF. "About half of the fleet needs to be replaced. We generally buy good used ships, with the priority on U.S. ships. If we buy used, we need another 25 years out of them. We try to do block procurements of sister ships, because the commonality gives us greater efficiencies and effectiveness." Some machinery and auxiliary system are obso- lete, and a determination must be made if investing in upgrades is worth the return on investment, such as replacing boiler automation systems that lower fuel consumption and are less manpower intensive to operate. It can also make sense to replace water makers, oil and water separators, and pumps. Fuel and ballast storage tanks, especially on fuel carrying ships, are problematic. Some ships have uncoated salt water ballast tanks. Corrosion issues can require costly steel replacement or recoating with new epoxy systems. "We can expect a certain amount of steel replacement during a dry dock period, but lately our estimates have been low," he said. Managing configuration control and scheduling and documenting maintenance is coordinated using an IT tool called Nautical System Enterprise from the ABS. "It's adapted to meet our needs," Tokarski said. "It is instru- mental in the holistic way we can manage our fleet. It helps us see where we spend our money and resources, and helps us ensure we get the readiness we're paying for." Qualified Crews ere's another challenge with older ships, and that's finding crews qualified to operate them. "We need to crew and operate ships that are no longer in commer- cial service. We have the most number of steam ships under the U.S. flag. We need mariners who are quali- fied and capable of operating this fleet," Tokarski said. "We're working with the labor organizations to make sure we have the pool of mariners we need. e unions have some outstanding engineering simulators to get our people the refresher training they need to operate a steam plant. "I have town hall meetings with the reduced oper- ating status crews. ey're concerned who will replace them. ere aren't enough qualified mariners in the pipeline. We're on the hairy edge right now. We don't have enough to sustain operations if we reactivate all of the RRF ships for a contingency," Tokarski said. "We've started carrying extra officers aboard our steam ships to become more familiar with these propulsion plants and get more experience in running them. We've worked The Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship USNS Arctic pulls away from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman after a Feb. 28 replenishment-at-sea in the Atlantic Ocean. Arctic was commis- sioned as USS Arctic in 1995, and became a Military Sealift Command ship in 2002.

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