Home » News & Analysis » Fleet Forces: Maintenance Load In Yokosuka Increasing; Effect on Fleet is Clear, Solution is Not

Fleet Forces: Maintenance Load In Yokosuka Increasing; Effect on Fleet is Clear, Solution is Not

USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) sits in Dry Dock 5 onboard Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka for an Extended Drydock Selected Restricted Availability in June 2016. FLEACT Yokosuka provides, maintains, and operates base facilities and services in support of 7th Fleet’s forward-deployed naval forces, 83 tenant commands, and 24,000 military and civilian personnel. US Navy photo.

ARLINGTON, Va . – An increasingly large workload for the maintainers of the Forward Deployed Naval Force ships in Japan has led to longer availabilities and less time for training, the head of U.S. Fleet Forces Command said, with the Navy still unsure how to go about reducing that burden.

Adm. Phil Davidson gave an overview of the Comprehensive Review of Recent Surface Force Incidents he led in the fall of 2017, telling a crowd at the Surface Navy Association’s annual symposium that the FDNF ships in Yokosuka saw a great increase in operational demands but also an increase in the time spent in maintenance.

“Ships have been added to Yokosuka in the last few years – a cruiser’s been added and two additional destroyers. That has raised the load on the maintenance community there from what was eight ships now to 11. There was another decision along the way: we’re going to do more advanced maintenance out here in 7th Fleet, including Aegis modernization,” Davidson said during his speech.
“Rising pressure to operate, maintenance avails getting a little more crowded, going long in some instances as that organization learned anew how to do new tasking like Aegis modernization, contracting for it, execute those things. When you’ve got your ops pushing from the right-hand side of the force lifecycle of the ship and maintenance pushing in on the left side, we all know what gets squeezed in the middle is training. And that was a factor” in two fatal collisions and two non-fatal incidents in 2017 among FDNF ships out of Yokosuka.

During the SNA event, House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee chairman Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) called for bringing FDNF ships home at least once every seven to 10 years for a deep maintenance and modernization period. Some ships, including destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) that suffered a fatal collision in August, remain in U.S. 7th Fleet for two decades or longer without returning home for repairs or equipment upgrades.

“What’s happened with that is we’ve seen a 50-percent increase in severe material casualties in forward locations. That’s troubling,” Wittman said.
“The question is, how do we address that? We want to make sure those ships get back stateside for deep-dive maintenance that needs to happen. Keeping ships there for 20 years, as good as the work that happens in Yokosuka is, is not enough to make sure we are reestablishing the material readiness of those ships. That actually has to happen to make sure that that rotation is a requirement to say this ship will come back in a seven- to 10-year timeframe.”

Adm. Phillip Davidson on Jan. 14, 2016. US Navy Photo

Davidson told USNI News during a question and answer session that he agreed in principle that the ships ought to rotate in and out of FDNF service to ensure they have the ability to be upgraded and maintained stateside from time to time, but he also noted the burden that that swap puts on the rest of the fleet.

“Let me describe for you, I’m going through this right now (with FDNF ships) in Rota: we sent four destroyers with a certain capability over to Rota with the idea that they were going to be there each about six years and then we were going to replace them with four ships with better capability when that capability was online,” Davidson said.
“I’ve been working on that, as the 6th Fleet commander and now here, almost the whole time. And I can tell you, the four ships I’ve got to send next, I’m already pulling them out of strike groups … to do the modernization they need to go, so they’re coming out of strike groups, I’m going to spend all the time doing that modernization, get them off to basic training, I’m going to send them over there, I’m going to get back four ships that then are going to require docking availabilities, they might require some modernization as well, that might be extended time. Pretty soon that looks like eight ships that are out of the strike group rotation for three years. We’re going to need a bigger navy to have that kind of policy.”

Davidson conceded that perhaps some ships might operate under this kind of rotation between FDNF service and stateside deployments while others would remain forward-stationed indefinitely.

Given the burden on the overall fleet to support swapping four destroyers into Rota and four out, Davidson said he had to consider “the impact it has on our ability to generate the total navy, not just that navy forward.”

  • Real sailor

    Our fleet has been ran hard and put away wet far too long. If war breaks out, only 50% of the entire fleet would be able to sortie and meet the enemy. We need to start building lots and lots of REAL frigates to take a lot of the workload off of the precious cruisers and destroyers, and NO, the LCS “Lame Crappy Ship” is not a real warship and NOT a substitue for a real Frigate with real capabilties. Hint: real warships don’t need to scurry home to port to ‘module’ up on missing capabilities-they have them built-in. (stand by from a broadside from the high priest of LCS, the Fleet admiral hijmself)

    • muzzleloader

      I suspect you know who works for Lockmart, or is a lobbyist.

      • johnbull

        Order us a bunch of Type 26 or a bunch of upgrades NSCs and we’ll be okay. Out of curiosity, is the labor force at the shipyard in Yokosuka primarily American or Japanese?

        • leroy

          I don’t know about the workforce but the O-club there has good cooks –
          great food! : )

        • Bubblehead

          FFGX will not be Type 26 unfortunately even though it will be the most capable frigate in the world. Doesn’t meet US #1 requirement that there already be floating and active hulls in order to drive down costs & to just know what the costs will be. How can UK tell us the cost of a Type 26 or how long to build it if they have not even built one yet? I love that ship though. You put Spy6, SEWIP2, SM6 & ESSM Bk2 on that puppy and you have a frigate that is a true deterrent.

      • Duane

        I’ve never worked a day or derived a penny of income from any defense contractor.

        But it is rather more likely that the anti-LMers are probably Boeing hacks .. or foreigners.

        • Donald Carey

          Pennies are NOT U.S. money. How about Dollars and Cents, hmmm?

    • leroy

      These can be exciting times with a new class of FFG coming online. If they pick the right design – a modern and sleek (some degree of stealth) one whose systems can be constantly expanded, upgraded, modernized. A true multi-mission ship that can take punishment whether its dished out by mother nature or the enemy. Any iteration of the LCS will be a major disappointment and mistake IMO. But something that’s a cross between, say, the UK’s Type 26 and Zumwalt? Proof that a new dawn is coming to the Navy! Or if they don’t choose wisely – just the opposite.

      • Curtis Conway

        The Asian Fleets are typically very capable WARSHIPS at all levels, particularly the Japanese, South Koreans, and the Taiwanese.

        • leroy

          Remember though, a ship is only as good as the crew that mans her. Given poor training and selection of way less than our best available applicants for Officer accession programs (I know from personal experience, position held, and could tell you horror stories), I wonder if our people have the qualities needed to outfight what will be a smart, disciplined enemy.

          • Curtis Conway

            The ‘best and brightest’ choosing Surface Warfare last is not new. However, lack of training, even in the presence of a lot of underway time can manifest itself in a negative way, and that is what we are experiencing. Bridgecrews (OOD/JOOD) given the responsibility, and they are still crawling, not even walking yet, forget running. Bring back Unit REFTRA before COMPTUEX.

          • RDF

            Academy midshipmen now have Lasik treatment available which takes away even more of the best and brightest. Its a real problem for the blackshoe community.

      • Duane

        FFG(X) will almost certainly be a stretch version of either existing LCS. No other ship can be delivered at the price and schedule the Navy requires. LM has already designed and sold such a ship to the Saudis, and it is a virtual clone of the Navy RFP requirements. It will be highly capable, inexpensive, and quick to deliver, with 60-80% systems commonality with the existing base of 32 LCS which will deliver long term life of class savings and efficiencies for the fleet that are not possible with the foreign designs.

      • Nicholas Stuart

        Leroy, I agree the FFG design was good but the concept was built on a dime. Yet it did the job when needed. There was talk to bring some back, not a good idea; learn from them and use one or two hulls to experiment with. New FFG must have duel shafts and a mono hull.

    • D. Jones

      Blaspheming the LCS will summon the wrath of Duane.

      • Curtis Conway

        Yeah, I was thinking more in the Lazarus direction.

      • Old Salt

        The Admiral has been awol. But rumor has it that the Great Fleet Admiral got ‘recalled’ back to Lockmart headquarters, apparently they are questioning his receipts for massive amounts of ‘special’ jelly

        • Duane

          You anti-LCSers persist in disparaging any non-hate of the subject of your pathological hatred of a ship (of all things … SMH!!!) to employment by a defense contractor. When you don’t have the facts or the logic on your side, you resort inevitably to ad hominem and personal attacks. We get it.

          • incredulous1

            pathological? Do we really need something that large for a SEAL insertion tool or drone platform? Beyond that, what good are they? Water skiing?

          • Duane

            They are good for littoral warfare, SuW, ASW, and MCM. That’s what they do.

          • Donald Carey

            Correction: What they are advertised to do….

          • Duane

            It’s what they do, no advertising involved.

          • Donald Carey

            Sure thing, Buckwheat…

    • Duane

      Sorry, you’re losing yet again. The Navy will almost certainly select one of the two LCS builders to design and build the FFG(X), essentially just a “stretch” version of either LCS variant, with about 60-80% systems commonailty with the existing LCS.. There is no way the European builders can begin to build their ships in the USA for anywhere near $950M max average cost, let alone the Navy’s targeted $800M or less average ship cost, and start delivery of the first ship in 2025. The European frigates are all billion plus dollar ships, even when built in their existing yards in Europe – tranplanting a production line across the ocean will add hundreds of millions and multiple years more to delivery cost and schedule.
      Now define “real warship”, and “real capabilities”. Please. In terms of facts and logic and not emotional, pathological hatred for an existing ship type, which is actually quite weird… but seems to be a common affliction with a tiny handful of commenters here at USNI and a few other defense websites who specialize in snark and avoid inconvenient facts, logic, and truth.

      • incredulous1

        I thought we only wanted their design and not a fully licensed build ship… You know like Mitsubishi building F-35s in Nagoya. They had to build all their own tools and only use the US paper with a liaison from Lockheed on the line. Then again, there’s the Donald effect where he is making people supply at lower rates to keep the market share. In the end it seems that a clean sheet of paper may be the way to go even if it does take longer. PS. I’m not “a Boeing hack or foreigner.”

        • Duane

          The Navy is not selecting a paper design … they are buying ships based upon a design that the Navy will select based largely on the builder’s ability to deliver those ships cheaply and quickly. That is why the Navy emphasized that they want “mature designs” based upon actual manufacturing experience, and specifically do not want any clean sheet designs that have never actually been built, and the implication in their language is that they want to know that it is already being built in the yard that will build them … which effectively excludes the European builders and their designs.

  • Curtis Conway

    With Aegis Ashore on the horizon in Japan, and they already have mature operational Aegis Destroyers with more on the way, it makes sense to have Aegis Upgrades in Japan be a normal thing. In my opinion we should license them to build Standard Missiles.

  • thebard3

    Dropping everything for the Fitzgerald and McCain repairs probably didn’t help the workload.

  • OS1 retired

    sheep don’t realize they are sheep, the stupid don’t realize they are stupid, and the Pat Winters don’t realize they are a “Pat Winter”

  • Real sailor

    news flash, “This is Pat Winter, the on the spot reporter for CNN, coming to you live from my basement. It’s been reported, and I frankly believe it, that the lastest cold snap is all Trump’s fault, he was overhead saying, I’m going to ‘grab me some skiis and go skiing on the white stuff” What this quote says is that Trump is a known ‘grabber’ and that he’s racist because he said snow is white, and he’s obviously displaying his ‘privilege’ by going skiing, a traditional rich man sport only practiced by rich white people. Again, this is Pat Winters, the winner in real news, catch me again at eleven for the latest scoop on the spelling bee crisis where Trump had the nerve to say “great job” to the nine year old winner, totally destroying the self-esteems of everyone in the audience who didn’t win.”

    • BlueSky47

      good one LOL

  • Tin-can sailor

    By the looks of his pic, it appears that ol’ Pat has been grabbing a lot of real p u s s y

  • Ctrot

    Well well, there is something we can agree on; that you and your cats are co-equals, in intelligence at the very least.

  • Ctrot

    Something else we can agree on, you are certifiable.

    • Duane-aka Sir Lockmart

      Looks like we have a ‘new’ Fleet Admiral eh? Out with the old Fleet admiral Dunene and in with the new Fleet Admiral Patty Weinter

      • Ctrot

        I certainly don’t agree with Duane’s views of LCS but it’s a bit much to compare him to this not. It’s also childish to create fake profiles imitating Duane. Try to keep the discussion adult and factually based.

  • incredulous1

    There are plenty of shipyards in Japan that would love to take on the workload. Why does the Navy not want to give them the work?

  • incredulous1

    I also hope that the new design has a little more protection and speed and not just stealth like some frigates. Remember the Stark.

  • Ex Navy warrior

    thanks for the clarification, now we know who wares the pants on your so-called family, but don’t go try ‘grabbing’ some, you might be slapped

  • Nicholas Stuart

    There is a solution. A mobile Floating Dry Dock. One in the Pacific, one in the Atlantic. Size big enough to handle the largest assets. Wake Island, Marshall Islands, Gilbert Islands. Designed with full naval capabilities.

  • Nicholas Stuart

    Gentlemen instead of blowing off steam at each other. Consider the problem from the fleet commanders perspective. As someone made a comment on ready capabilities, yes the Navy is in a bit of tight spot, nothing they haven’t faced before and overcome. First let us look at maintenance, if you build a hot rod and your drag racing 24/7 you must have the facilities to maintain and repair even major damage in the ops area. It is senseless to have to “lift” an asset a long haul back to a West Coast base or as demands an East Coast port. A fully combat ready Floating Dry Dock which in essence acts as a Carrier and dry dock repair and manufacturing facility might well be the solution. There are major American island groupings under administration that could accommodate this “beast” while rotating between those island chains.

  • Nicholas Stuart

    716, if cost were the only factor to consider may I suggest to check out some of GAO documents about shipyard cost per vessel and shipyards themselves. The FFGs were no worse then what is currently happening in the ship yards now. Government let contracts are forever over cost no matter the purpose. As to the Navy this is a historic problem may I suggest reading a book by Ian W. Toll ” Six Frigates” which truely shows where it all started. One method in which this could be overcome is by changing the fabrication process. Robotics and composite materials. You change with the times, or. The Navy has forever been cheated in the actual construction process. Why not it’s just the tax payers money😈.

  • George Bisharat

    This problem goes way back when Hunters Point NSY was closed and later Mare Island NSY as well. But no one was willing to see the red flags sounding off. Bean counters strike again.