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Amid Private Yard Capacity Concerns, Navy Trying to Boost Sailors’ Maintenance Abilities

Water is drained from a dry dock at U.S. Naval Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF JRMC) Yokosuka preparing the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67) for a scheduled maintenance availability in July 2015. US Navy photo.

This post has been updated to add the title of Cmdr. Cedric McNeal.

SAN DIEGO – The Navy is projecting a significant increase in ship maintenance and modernization work in the next couple years, and several officials are concerned private industry does not have the capacity to keep up.

Naval Sea Systems Command’s Deputy Commander for Surface Warfare (SEA 21) and Commander of Naval Regional Maintenance Centers Rear Adm. Jim Downey said at the American Society of Naval Engineers’ annual Fleet Maintenance and Modernization Symposium that Fiscal Years 2018 through 2020 would bring a workload of about 135 percent the size the Navy has seen in recent years. One contributing factor is the first wave of Littoral Combat Ship maintenance availabilities – in fact, according to Cmdr. Cedric McNeal, the deputy program manager for the frigate program office in the program executive office for LCS, FY 2018 will be the first year the Navy makes a major investment in LCS modernization work, with availabilities starting in 2019. In the current five-year Future Years Defense Program, LCS ships will go into 27 maintenance and modernization availabilities.

“I am worried in the out-years we will not have the private yard capacity we need to handle all the force maintenance requirements. Private yards have done a good job absorbing work that has come their way during the force reset, but the prospect of a still greater maintenance workload in the out-years, with additional Littoral Combat Ships coming online and a potentially larger force overall, causes me concern,” commander of Naval Surface Forces Vice Adm. Tom Rowden said at the event, held earlier this month at the San Diego Convention Center.
“This concern extends beyond dry dock capacity shortfalls, which still loom large. [Forward Deployed Naval Force] is at capacity, for example. There is simply more work than the current workforce can accomplish. In [the continental United States], I have pushed to expand the set of yards capable of and familiar with performing Navy work. Last year, for example, we performed an emergent drydock repair at the Vigor Shipyard in Portland, Ore. On the East Coast, USS Ramage (DDG-61) is executing an out-of-homeport availability at the builder’s yard down in Pascagoula, Miss.”

At the same time, the Navy is trying to boost its sailors’ ability to perform more maintenance work on the ship without outside assistance. While this wouldn’t make much of a dent in the looming surge in workload, it could cut down on contractor maintenance costs, and it would lead to a more self-sufficient fleet capable of operating in complex environments.

Hull Maintenance Technician 1st Class James Strotler secures a bolt in place for the retractable bit for towing aboard USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) in January 2016. US Navy photo.

In the case of LCS, the ship concept was designed around a minimal crew, with the bulk of maintenance activities being conducted by contractors. Though the crew size has been increased over time, the LCSs operating out of Singapore have come back to port about every 25 days for a contractor-led maintenance availability, which includes basic tasks such as monthly system checks. In the wake of last year’s LCS Review, and as LCS maintenance and modernization moves from the program acquisition office into the Navy’s surface ship lifecycle maintenance portfolio, several officials said the LCS crews would begin taking on more maintenance responsibilities themselves.

“It’s clear what the operational fleet’s demand is for us, which is to make sure the ship can be maintained, and the sailors where possible can do that. So we are focused on training for the sailors,” Downey said, adding that his office was making sure they had the equipment, the spare parts, the technical documentation and more to help the ship’s crews and sailors at the Regional Maintenance Centers conduct more LCS work themselves.

“The key is to increase sailor ownership and decrease the reliance on contractors and [original equipment manufacturers]. I recognize that the Littoral Combat Ship manning does not support shifting the entire maintenance workload to the crew, as their capacity is limited. But still I am committed to maximizing the amount of planned maintenance that we perform by the LCS crew,” Rowden said.
“From talking to the folks on the Littoral Combat Ship, one of the frustrating things for them was, it was just kind of the way we set it up, but contractors would come aboard and do the work but the sailors would have to hang all the tags … so it was kind of like, rather than having the sailors do the work, we would just have the sailors do all the setup and teardown, and then the contractors would step in and do the work and the sailors would watch them do the work. It’s crazy. There’s some maintenance items that are appropriately done by the depot – reset and safety … but the day-to-day weighing of CO2 bottles or, we just had to get after that.”

Rowden added that there’s still an ongoing conversation on the division of labor between sailors on the ships’ crews and the Regional Maintenance Centers, along with the role of contractors.

Beyond LCS, though, Navy leaders at the ASNE conference expressed concerns about the declining ability of ships’ crews to take care of their own ships. Sailors today have fewer opportunities to become proficient at ship maintenance during shore duties, meaning sailors going to sea bring with them less knowledge about how the ship and its systems work.

Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class Charles Tillerson, left, and Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Daniel Charest perform maintenance on a hydrazine salinity cell alarm in the aft main machinery room aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) on Aug. 24, 2017. US Navy photo.

Rear Adm. Mark Whitney, director of fleet maintenance for U.S. Fleet Forces Command, said at the conference that “the vast majority of the [casualty reports] that I read on any one given day say ‘request ship’s force tech assist.’ That’s not a self-sufficient sailor at sea.”

In a contested operating environment with denied communications, he noted, “you are not going to have the ability to phone home.”

Whitney said the Navy’s operational and maintenance communities had to find a way to get sailors more proficient at fixing downed systems and repairing their ships while underway. While a complex challenge to address, he said part of the solution would be ensuring that crews can begin pre-deployment training on time – without delays from ship maintenance availabilities going long – and ensuring that that training time includes an emphasis on maintaining and repairing the ship.

“That’s years of constrained funding that have taken risk on things like tech manuals, [Engineering Operational Sequencing System], [Planned Maintenance System], and resourcing maintenance, to where what has been the risk-taker has been compressing that training timeline,” Whitney said.
“We’re in an environment where that risk is unacceptable.”

  • NEC338x

    Can’t speak to the 2000’s and 20-teens, but prior to that the shift to DLR components in systems was steady and noticeable. I can’t imagine that the trend didn’t continue, especially with the the focus turning to contractor based maintenance and support with the LCS program.

    I seem to recall a story in the Navy Times (back in January maybe?), that A schools were going to be streamlined so that sailors could get to the fleet sooner. Comprehensive training in A schools was going to nixed in favor of just learning the minimum to be proficient of the equipment where you’re being shipped to. Makes great sense from the point of view of reducing training investment costs in sailors that are likely to get out after their first or second hitch.

    POV-only training and DLRs seem to be at odds with what the ADMs and CAPTs indicate they want in this article. BRAC reductions in SIMAs and the loss of tenders makes DLRs that much harder. But what do I know? I happen to like cakes and eat them too!

    • “Makes great sense from the point of view of reducing training investment
      costs in sailors that are likely to get out after their first or second
      hitch.” Proper leadership can prevent that from happening. In the past several decades we’ve seen the Navy drive out and otherwise fail to reenlist many competent sailors for trivial reasons. Perhaps the best example being that the individual didn’t “look right”. That sort of thinking comes from leadership that wants sailors to look like a chorus line and tap dance.

    • wilkinak

      They did the same thing with SWOs and look at how well that worked out.

      The idea of saving money by not training people who are going to get after 5 years is great in theory. Problem is those people need to be able to do something useful why they are collecting a paycheck.

      I think the bigger problem is the bean counters who require that the cost of a random Sailor’s time include an allowance for retirement pay when the Sailor may quit after 5 years. That has skewed the cost comparison b/w Sailor & contractor cost.

      These guys are in the fleet, collecting a paycheck – there’s no sense not using them to do work.

      • NEC338x

        Another ten years and no one will be left that has first-hand experience in a Navy that could fix their own stuff. Something that might come in handy in a real naval campaign. Crazy, huh?

      • Sandra Wyman

        That cost comparison also fails to account for the fact that the gov’t enterprise as a whole benefots from experienced and well trained military veterans. If a sailor gets out and works as a civil servant doing similar work is that training really a loss?

  • NavySubNuke

    Good – not only does this make ships more independent and reliable it also increases the pool of experienced technicians for our shipyards to hire after they get out of the Navy. Right now the sailors getting out have a fraction of the maintenance experience that sailors 10 or 15 years ago did because of how much of the work we have shifted to the yards and to contractors — the sooner we get this corrected the better.
    As to LCS — contractor proprietary maintenance is just one of the sins of this program. The fact that sailors aren’t even allowed to perform certain maintenance activities and that only the contractor is allowed to is an absolute travesty. I had a friend in an LCS maintenance unit for the Reserves and he had story after story about what a disaster this was for everyone but the company (and likely the program office representatives who allowed such lucrative disasters to be put into place). It is one thing to shift maintenance to off-crew support staff —- it is quite another to contract in such a way that ONLY your staff can maintain the equipment you sold the Navy without the Navy being in breach of the contract!

    • PolicyWonk

      The LCS program is itself a violation of the public trust. And that these useless pier-queens are already having to undergo such heavy maintenance given the small value delivered so far, is simply an embarrassment.

      Corporate welfare at its worst.

      • Say what you want about the industry – bottom line is that it’s the Navy’s RFP. If you don’t give the customer what they want, they disqualify you on the tech prop. The truth is that the Navy got exactly what they asked for.

        • PolicyWonk

          They did – and they should be prosecuted for it.

          • NEC338x

            We are about to get a repeat performance with FFGX. I’m sure we will same degree of thouroughness in whatever new seaframe is decided upon.

          • I find the term “seaframe” to be offensive! Maybe we should topple a few statues to bring attention to the matter – recommendations?

      • Curtis Conway

        Contrast that with the National Security Cutter experience in the US Coast Guard. Night and day difference. Shows you the maturity of the system, and wisdom built into the process.

  • Curtis Conway

    Am I the only one who read this piece, and came to the conclusion that the least effective surface combatant will begin to eat up significant, precious and extremely valuable maintenance capacity? Is this indicative of a larger problem?

    • PolicyWonk

      Given the amount of value the taxpayer has garnered from that program, which is directly contrary to what it’s cheerleaders promised, one would hope the denizens of the program office in question would have the decency to be embarrassed.

      And yes, I would venture to agree that it represents a serious problem.

      • airider

        Those first LCS avails are going to be killers….lots of first of breed lessons to learn. Stand by for busted schedules and cost overruns while the learning curve follows historic trends. Also, who’s doing the avails on the mission packages and how does that figure into all of this?

        • PolicyWonk

          The SUW mission package takes a poorly armed slightly-better-than-commercial-grade sea frame, makes it only marginally less poorly armed, while remaining a joke to any potential naval adversary in the same (or smaller, in a number of cases) size class.

          Its also the least expensive – and probably the easiest to maintain.

          The other two mission packages have yet to be delivered, so they remain to be seen. Or delivered. The LCS program office will continue to pour taxpayer dollars into them until they provide some kind of marginal usefulness (the bar for acceptable performance in LCS circles seems pretty low).

          Regardless, LCS is heinously expensive, and now it seems the maintenance costs are gonna take the taxpayers to the cleaners. Gotta love the idea of training the sailors to do more of the work – especially given that they’re already overworked, according to the GAO (despite the larger crew size).

          • Secundius

            You’re in LUCK!/? The “Jones” Act of 1920 was Amended in May 2017 to allow Foreign Design Purchases. ONLY if Said “Design” Purchases were Built within the Territorial Limits of the United States. NO “Direct” Foreign Shipyard Purchases…

          • PolicyWonk

            Heh – I heard.

            There are foreign designs that are superior to LCS (of course, thats not setting the bar very high).

            I’d prefer that we get the naval variant of the HII Legend-class National Security Cutter (personally). Its got a hot production line, would have parity with the USCG, is tough, proven, seaworthy, arctic capable, has room for growth, and long legs.

            The only thing LCS has in common with the NSC, is the hot production line.

          • Secundius

            Unfortunately Huntington-Ingalls may have Committed Suicide in the Frigate Design Competition scheduled for 2020!/? The US Justice Department in 15 August 2017 WON a Judgement Law Suit against “HII” for Overcharging the US Government in Shipbuilding Contracts. It cost them ~$9.2-Million USD in Fines and Probably LOST them the Frigate Design Competition. In 2015 “HII” Publically Announced a ~$1.9-Billion USD Revenue Surplus and Announced a ~$2.41-Billion USD Revenue Surplus in 2016. ALL while NOT selling anymore ships, then they did in 2015 and Operating with a Reduced Labor Force. Approximately 20 Management Level Managers Lost their Jobs because of the Law Suit. NO ONE amongst the Board of Directors…

          • Sandra Wyman

            A great argument for going back to building our own and having more public yards. Unfortunately that is not an easy solution.

          • Secundius

            Unfortunately the Philadelphia Shipyards are “Booked Up” for Building “Container Ship’s” for the Foreseeable Future (at least the Next 5-years)…

          • NEC338x

            I’m sure that the comprehensive LCS Modenization program that Cmdr. McNeal speaks of in the article above will address your concerns on up arming and maintenance. TIC

          • PolicyWonk

            Well, to make up-arming worth it, you have to have sufficient room for growth – and LCS doesn’t have enough of it (either class), to do anything significant.

      • DaSaint

        The cheerleaders of the program, it’s genesis and beneficiaries, go all the way to the top of the 1980’s era Navy civilian command. Trace the history.

    • DaSaint

      I think it’s more a problem of volume, as more of this class comes online. After all, there will be 30 of them, and half of them are all-aluminum, while the balance have aluminum superstructures.

      BAE Systems has already done some work on them, and I’m sure that their build yards will participate as well. If one were to exclude the LCS build yards in FFG(X) competition, they should at least recognize that they’ll get lots of refit and support work for the 25-30 year life expectancy of the ships.

      • Curtis Conway

        I hope there are a lot of refits with numerous combat system upgrades. One thing that cannot be refit is the hull, and that is what gives it its sea-keeping capability, for which that hull-form is wholly unsuited in Blue Water in heavy seas.

        • DaSaint

          That may in fact be true, but if anyone knows aluminum hull properties, operational profiles, and lifecycles, it’s Austal. I’m not saying that they’ll last as long as a Tico or a Burke, but they should certainly last their 25 year design-life. In a couple more years, the first ones will be almost half way there.

          IMHO, the FFG(X) (and it’s variants) has an opportunity to replace the early LCS, but knowing how the DOD operates, if it’s a successful design, and there are enough Flight IIA and Flight III Burke DDGs, they may use it to replace early Flight I and Flight II Burkes as well. Just a hunch, as they embrace distributed lethality as their reason for not needing Aegis on every combatant.

          • Secundius

            US Navy uses a 5000 series Aluminum, which has the best overall resistance to corrosion in Seawater conditions. Alloys range from ~2.5% to ~5.0% Magnesium, weight loss to Corrosion is ~0.2-mils/year or ~1/20th to that of Marine Grade Mild Steel. Typical aluminium’s used are 5052, 5083, 5086 and 5454, and 5456. Aluminium is tested by placing at 2-inch square piece of Aluminium in a ASTM G67 Nitric Acid Mass Loss Test, until crack appear and then analyzing the cracks. Unless US Navy specifies a Specific Aluminum series for the Construction, it’s usually an Aluminium Alloy Favored by the Shipbuilder…

          • Curtis Conway

            The Freedom Class has a steel hull with an aluminum superstructure. I think the center hull on the Independence Class is a steel hull, but the rest is aluminum. It was the only way to keep them light enough to meet the speed requirement, of which there is a huge question about that requirement given the requirements the Unified Combatant Commanders have been asking for before the OHPs went away, and are insistent on now that they are gone. Too risky to send an LCS with their current record, but they would take a Legend Class WHEC in a heart beat. It would be a little under-gunned but do a credible job, and be a solution in their region for many problems, instead of a liability that drains resources.

          • Secundius

            Australia-USA, uses two types of Aluminum in the Construction Process. 5083 series and 6082 series Aluminum. The only Steel used are in the Internal Fittings of the Ship Design…

          • DaSaint

            The trimaran hull is completely aluminum, as is the superstructure. Some feel that the outer hills may actually offer some protection to the center hull, but IMO, a missile will probably punch right through.

          • Sandra Wyman

            A missile will punch through 3/8ths inch steel too . . . .

          • Secundius

            So will an M2 AP .30-06 (7.62×63.3mm)…

    • Secundius

      They (the US Navy) should have a Dedicated “Sintering Room” for Laser/Metal 3-D Printing of ALL Repairable and Maintainable Replacement Parts on the SPOT. Where like the Fire Control Party, ALL Ship’s Crew Members should be Trained on it’s usage…

      • Sandra Wyman

        The public yards are starting to experiment with this.

        • Secundius

          US Navy’s is experimenting the using of “Sintering” Replicators for use on Aircraft Carriers. And even 3-D Food Printers to Offset the Limited Food Storage on Submarines…

  • airider

    The best thing coming out of all of this is numbered fleet and type commanders talking about the real issues and bringing the lessons learned from before the 2000’s back into the forefront.

    Shore duty used to “pay it forward” for sea duty. The I-levels would use a workforce already paid for (i.e. the Sailors) and provide support to the same folks and ships they would be going back to sea with. The maintenance gets done for a known price, the sailors become experts in the gear directly (no web-based training!!!) and then go back to the fleet as LPOs and CPOs who know what they were doing and could train the next generation with hands on experience.

    The Navy was getting a twofer with the I-level orgs….the best training and direct fleet maintenance from the same sailor.

    Please, please don’t let this get derailed again chasing some “shiny object” promise made by folks who’ve never been to sea or turned a wrench.

    Invest in the Sailors…it’s their butts on the line when things go sideways!

    • Sandra Wyman

      The reality was it was a three-fer. Those same sailors later retired or got out and went to work in shipyards (public and private) and for other gov’t agencies doing maintenance and contracting work.

  • Western

    Texas will be in need of some future infrastructure and jobs. Build some shipyards.
    Fully support sailors be trained and experienced in maintaining their systems and components. When the missiles start flying, that is all we will have.

  • Scott

    Anyone remember the FFG-7 class when they first came out? How they were going to be minimally manned and when in port SIMA folks were going to swarm aboard and do all the maintenance? I guess not as the same mistakes are being made again.

  • Pete Novick

    As a member in good standing of the American Society of Naval Engineers, a retired surface warfare officer, and one who served 48 months in two Chief Engineer officer billets, one aboard a DDG forward deployed to Yokosuka, I have some observations:

    • Leading with a photo of a CG in SRF Yokosuka is disingenuous. SRF Yokosuka is hands down the finest and lest expensive depot level maintenance facility for the US Navy. The 4,000 Japanese nationals who work at SRF Yokosuka and in Sasebo, are paid for by the Japanese government.

    • Organizational, intermediate and depot level maintenance requirements for Navy ships are deliberately mapped to Navy human resources in complex ways, and are built into the shipboard manning documents. Throwing out an offhand comment that ship’s personnel will need to be responsible for more maintenance, beginning at the intermediate level is at best irresponsible. at worst, a recipe for lower readiness without a years-long effort to make the core changes to those manning documents and to rejigger the schools pipelines to have a reasonable chance at success. Just think about the last equipment based C-4 CASREPs your ship released. How many of those corrective maintenance jobs were within ship’s force capability to correct?

    • The Navy Enlisted Classification system is primarily based on operational capabilities, and not maintenance capabilities. Realistically, how many intermediate level maintenance activities could your ship do effectively – and still do all the other tasks required of sailors?

    • In the other picture of the two IC Electricians, suppose the test in UNSAT and they trace the problem to a faulty thermistor. What’s the fix? Is it to replace the salinity cell before understanding why the thermistor failed?

    The Navy continues to beat up on its surface ships – it was that way when I was commissioned and it was still that way 20 years later when I retired. Don’t expect that to change – ever.

    • BMCDawgg

      The Navy does have maintenance related NECs. The Navy Afloat Maintenance Training Strategy (NAMTS) program is active at all the Regional Maintenance Centers, CVs, LHA/LHDs and the Tenders in Quam. The sailors get hands on, performing actual I-level repairs/maintenance and earn the related NECs. There are 19 areas covered including Interior Communications. The other areas covered are AC&R, Inside/outside Machine, inside/outside electrical, Gas Turbine Electrical and Mechanical, Welder/Brazer, Hydraulic Repair, Pipefitter, Pump Repair, Rigger/Weight Tester, Ship fitter, Shipboard Calibration, Watertight Closure Maintenance, and Valve Repair. There are specific NAMTS billets on all surface ships and more emphasis is being placed on Strike Force IMA for deployed CSGs and ARGs.

  • Bring back the destroyer tenders and if still sea worthy the repair ships. When they were decommissioned the Navy lost a lot of expertise. I wonder, to name a few rates, how many molders, pattern-makers, boiler repairmen, instrument are still in the Navy. Deploy one to Singapore, one to the Med and or Persian Gulf and rotate any others from San Diego, Norfolk, and or Mayport. To save some money you could man them as MSC ships with USN and Civilians. Also a gaggle of contractors could be accommodated to assist in the maintenance and train the Navy.Civilian personnel. In addition any new ship building contract should include training in maintenance for ships company by the builder yard. Another idea – have artificer rates that are not operators but repair orientated on every ship. The RN and the Spanish Navies have that type of setup. The artificers could perform routine Preventive Maintenance (PMS) and any repairs while operators operate and train for causalities. Artificers would also be excellent Damage Control people. MMCS(SW)(SS) USN Ret.

    • NEC338x

      Sadly they’ve been scrapped/sunk in SINKEX. The Shenandoah, last of the Yellowstone’s, had less than 2 decades of time in service when she was turned into razor blades. Brilliant leadership, huh?

  • Eyes open

    I see the bigger problem as not having the yards to perform this work. Why not look to the smaller facilities around the country that can do some of this work that do not build these ships. Let’s face it, a welder is a welder (of course with proper certifications) but you get my point. And this will also help grow the ranks of the working class. Right here is Philly is the Kaverner yard that used to build container ships. They have the qualified personnel to tackle many of these tasks. Or would we step on some congressman’s buddie’s toes?

    • Sandra Wyman

      A welder is a welder up to a certain point, some work can go to smaller yards but as the work gets more complex and requires more engineering they often are not competitive. Some are also not interested in dealing with an irrational customer (which the gov’t often is)

  • Capt Curmudgeon

    Ahhhhh…. Re member SIMAs and Destroyer Tenders? My CG had a great machine shop, shipfitter shop and electrical rewind shop. Didn’t need much outside support. Even did work for the missile guys.

  • John Wertenbach

    The Navy should put some retired chiefs on deck and let them teach these new sailors how to take care of their ship.When leadership fails,so does the mission

    • Secundius

      As I recall, back in 27 April 2017 SEVEN Chief Petty Officers of the Cruiser CG-66, USS Hue City. Were Reprimanded in front of the Captain’s Mast for Failure in Performing THEIR Respective Duties. Including Disorderly Drunkenness while performing those Duties. It seems to be a Systemic Problem by ALL Ranks and Rates, and NOT just an Officer’s Problem…

      • John Wertenbach

        2017 isn’t quite the year of Chief’s I had in mind,I’m talking pre-political correct Chiefs or E-6’s that are mechanics,more interested in repair and preventative maintenance then kissing somebody’s but.Take me,MMCS,and theres not a piece of equipment i cant repair and train the next sailor to do the job.Chiefs like me weren’t wanted in the new Navy and you can see how that worked out…….

        • Secundius

          I don’t think Lack of Training is the Problem!/? I think the Problem is Tours of Duty and Lack of Benefits! Less than 0.04% of the Population ACTUALLY Serve, and those that Do. Are doing Triple and Quadruple Tours of Duty, which are Burning Out Crews. The US Air Force is looking at a ~5,000 Trained Pilot “Short Fall” by 2020. And the US Merchant Marines a 70,000 Cadet “Short Fall”, over the Next TEN Years…

          • wilkinak

            I don’t think lack of benefits is the problem. Military gets plenty of bennies that civilians can only dream of.

            BTW, the MMCS who worked for me in early 2000 was a certifiable POS on the ROAD. He wasn’t all that smart either. Had the gall to write himself up for a Navy Com as an end of tour after he’d been fired for incompetence & offloaded to DAPA. He was the worst thing that could happen to an ensign.

          • Secundius

            Last I heard PX, Commissary Privileges we’re Curtailed and Tricare Payments were increased…

  • James Bowen

    This is just one of may reasons why we should not have closed all those Navy shipyards in the 1990s.

  • Ed L

    Bring back the Tenders, Where can I sign up to work on one. I am only 63, still working on boats, (Sailboats).

  • Michael G Barrett

    Looks like my post didn’t make the abusive language cut or being thoughtful of others. So I’ll try again.
    As a former Cheng twice and a Repair Officer at a SIMA twice, as well as a CO of a Sima; I have a few thoughts.
    Navy Maintenance as most of us remember it, is long gone. Follow on comments submitted by many tell the story. Decommissioned Tenders, closing of the SIMA’s, letting FTSC establishments go away along with most of the SUPSHIP expertise has been devastating.
    We pay outrageous costs to civilian repair organizations with money being the bottom line. And we shovel it their direction. Our present day Sailors don’t have the expertise to do many shipboard repairs and the ships aren’t designed that way. Most significant repairs are beyond the scope of our shipboard personnel. They also involve component parts replacement and the Navy is sorely short on many parts. Many DDG51 class ships have to take parts from other ships to deploy on time because the parts aren’t there. This article is not correct in my opinion. Tools and training are desperately needed. Repair parts are needed. The question begs asking; What exactly will our Sailors be fixing to help out with the Maintenance shortfall? Please be honest with your readers, we are in a fix wrt ship repair and modernization. CDR, USN (Ret)

    • NEC338x

      Is it too much to hope that you’ve been approached by SECNAV Spencer for his tiger team?

    • airider

      No one said it would be easy, but if we don’t lean back in this direction, it will never get fixed.

    • Sandra Wyman

      Sailors may lack tools and training but as a whole they do not lack intelligence or determination. The industrial knowledge exists, tools exist, tech manuals exist, . . .remove the zero defects mentality and allow people to at least try to fix their own gear. I served on an FFG, DDG, and later in a public SY, now I work for NOAA doing similar work . . . the difference between what an EN2 can repair and what my NOAA engineers can repair is not really about tools or training, it is about being allowed to try to fix it, being allowed to figure out the basics of how a thing works even if you don’t have a specific qualification for it and make an attempt at diagnosing the problem. I was never a GSE or a reefer tech but if I can pull a drawing and a tech manual and troubleshoot a machinery control system or a reefer compressor so can most navy sailors.

      • Michael G Barrett

        Agree with your comments Sandra. However most parts are not onboard. Many parts aren’t available in the supply system. Many repairs are just plain IMA or DEPOT level repairs. My intention was not to reflect bad on the Sailors.

  • Kim Chul Soo

    The Services, especially the Navy started neglecting to train their sailors back in the sixties. Now, they are dependent on civilian contractors. I never thought much of this move.