Home » Budget Industry » NAVSEA: New Pentagon Strategy Putting Pressure on Private, Public Maintenance Yards to Deliver Ships on Time

NAVSEA: New Pentagon Strategy Putting Pressure on Private, Public Maintenance Yards to Deliver Ships on Time

Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command Vice Adm. Tom Moore answers questions during a town hall meeting with Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City. US Navy Photo

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The Pentagon’s new focus on high-end warfare with sophisticated adversaries will put increased emphasis and pressure on Navy readiness, and the service’s maintenance infrastructure needs to better in fixing ships on time, the head of Naval Sea Systems Command said on Tuesday.

Taking cues from Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ new National Defense Strategy, all the services are focused on dialing up readiness to meet a higher-level threat, Vice Adm. Tom Moore said during a keynote speech at the American Society of Naval Engineers (ASNE) Fleet Maintenance and Modernization Symposium.

“The last year has had the biggest focus on readiness that I have seen in the 37 years I’ve been in the Navy, and that’s on all levels. Navy leadership is talking about readiness every single day, from the [chief of naval operations] on down,” Moore said.
“Right now we’re not delivering on everything we need delivered, and going forth we really need to deliver, and the pace of change is only going to get faster.”

According to Moore, the Navy’s public yards are delivering ships on-time about 45 to 50 percent of the time, while private shipyards are getting ships out on time about 35 percent of the time.

“It’s important to keep in mind that I have 55 ships coming into maintenance availabilities in the private sector in 2019, and in 2018 only 35 percent ships I have in availabilities are expected to move on time,” he said.
“Thirty-five percent is just not going to be good enough moving forward to meet the demands that fleet has today.”

He indicated that the four public shipyards are improving.

“We’re starting to see some results. Last year we delivered all four carriers all on time. We stubbed our toe a little bit on Ike,” Moore said referring to the maintenance availability of carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) that has almost doubled in length. Work on nuclear submarines has also lagged in public yards, he said.
“All I have to do is look at Ike, Rhode Island and Ohio and Seawolf and some of the ships that are in the yard today to know that’s still a challenge for us.”

Hull Maintenance Technician Fireman Keriyate Lewis welds a metal brace aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) on Aug. 14, 2018. US Navy Photo

NAVSEA has a plan on the books to retool and refresh its four public yards over the next 20 years and has now turned its attention to the private yards: it needs to contract in a way that promotes more efficient work, and it needs more capacity through more drydocks.

“There are people who argue with me that whether we have a capacity challenge or not, but all I do is look that only 35 percent of the ships are delivered on time, and the conclusion I draw is there are not enough people working on ships,” he said.
“If we’re going to be successful, we have to be able to provide a stable and predictable workload for industry, and we’re going to have to be competitive.”

NAVSEA is taking yet another look at how it contracts with private shipyards for maintenance, with a plan to modify the Multiple Award Contract/Multi-Order (MAC-MO) contract strategy that was meant to optimize cost for the Navy.

“The consensus was, after two years of running with MAC-MO, I think we agree that strategy isn’t delivering the results that we need,” Moore said.

To improve the process, NAVSEA is working a pilot program that would bundle availabilities on each coast that would allow companies a more predictable set of work.

“We’ll get bids from industry and we’ll be able to lay [our] chips on the table. We’ll be able to look at the bids. We’ll be able to look at who has capacity and who doesn’t. We’ll be able to look at, hey, it’s important to keep an industrial base, and we’ll be able to make decisions that are not solely based on price that will allow us to deliver our ships on time and give you a little more stable and predictive work,” Moore said.
“My goal is eventually that we will eventually – on each coast – bundle availabilities six months at a time… so you can know at least what work you can have in the next six months and beyond.”

The Navy is set to test the scheme with a three-ship pilot program for repairs of guided-missile destroyers USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) and USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) and amphibious warship USS Gunston Hall (LSD-44).

With the increase in predictability for bundled MAC-MO contracts, the Navy hopes private industry will invest in infrastructure to handle the planned 355-ship Navy.

“The acquisition strategy we have today doesn’t incentivize industry to hire and make investments that I think they need to make,” Moore said.
“I think that acquisition strategy is the root cause of what I would say was a lack of capacity in the private sector today.”

In another bid to expand capacity, the NAVSEA is looking to certify drydocks to Navy standards. Moore said NAVSEA has been in touch with 12 shipyards who mostly don’t do work on warships that are interested in having their drydocks certified for use for repair work.

Moore said he’s also looking to increase private industries ability to work on nuclear submarines. Currently, there are four submarines in repairs at public yards.

Overall, Moore stressed the need to improve maintenance is growing as the Pentagon strives to be more dynamic and the service grows.

“We’re putting strain on the ships, we’re putting strain on the men and women out there wearing the uniform that are out there at the tip of the spear, and it’s up to us to figure out how to generate the readiness for the force that we have: 287,” he said.
“As we go up to 355, if we can’t generate the readiness with 287 in terms of delivering ships on time – as you know there’s a lot of skepticism that we can do that as we head to 355.”

  • vetww2

    HA,HA,HA,HA,HA,HA,HA,HA, THANKS for the laugh!

  • Marc Apter

    Private yards can repair the non-nucs, but we will be paying extra to get it done. The actual costs of the repairs/overhaul at the specific yards aren’t that pad, what it costs the Navy after the 3 or 4 Corporations that own all the private repair yards add in their Corporate overhead, we can’t afford the work. I saw it in the late 70’s with old Beth Steel Boston Yard, and I’m sure it is even worse now. Oh, don’t forget the work going to yards owned by Corporations with senior politicians in their pocket, that ensure the Navy can’t question their financial games, no matter what proof is found. Again the late 70’s, and does anyone think it is better now?

  • Doug


    • Marc Apter

      The only issue with Unions is who can do which work, and there is no flexibility on that. The rest of your comment is BS.

      • Doug

        In a message dated 9/20/2018 9:49:35 AM Eastern Standard Time, [email protected] writes:

        “The only issue with Unions is who can do which work, and there is no flexibility on that. The rest of your comment is BS.” Disqus  Settings    A new comment was posted on USNI NewsMarc ApterThe only issue with Unions is who can do which work, and there is no flexibility on that. The rest of your comment is BS. 9:49 a.m., Thursday Sept. 20 | Other comments by Marc Apter
        Reply to Marc Apter
        Marc Apter’s comment is in reply to Doug : ONLY IF THE UNION’S LET THEM WORK. NO WEEKEND WRK ,OVERTIME, HOLIDAY. THEY RUN THE DOCKS. MONEY TALKS. GOVERNMENT WALKS. NO CHOICE THERE. UNION … Read more  You’re receiving this message because you’re signed up to receive notifications about replies to douggladden. You can unsubscribe from emails about replies to douggladden by replying to this email with “unsubscribe” or reduce the rate with which these emails are sent by adjusting your notification settings.Disqus

      • An_A_C

        This was true in public shipyards in the 1980’s when I worked in a couple and it doesn’t surprise me that it’s still true. The strict lines and rules about who could pick up what, or who could turn which wrench on what machine added up to about 25% wasted time and money. I don’t know as much about how private yards were on this problem, but they had their own problems. They commonly bid lower than a public yard would estimate for the same overhaul, but by the end of the overhaul the cost had risen in private yards by 25 to 35 percent, while in a public yard, the cost may rise by 5 to 10 percent. Private yard overhauls often ended up costing the Navy more by the time they were over. Sounds like it’s still about the same.

  • Ed L

    My Brother has been working 6 Days a week at Newport News yard for months. They are being encouraged to work overtime

  • Crab

    There is plenty of capacity, but the Navy’s process and requirements are significantly more than a repair being done for the same type of work on a commercial ship. The ship repairer are going for the work that is easier to do and there is plenty of it to keep them busy.

  • omegatalon

    Fines and penalties needs to be accessed on the maintenance yards; although there could be waivers like if the facility needed to close due to severe weather like a hurricane or if the company puts in writing 60-90 days ahead of a potential delay.

  • Del_Varner

    We need to build an education infrastructure that will train to a high degree welders, electricians, etc. to handle these kinds of jobs.

    • Herbert Hoover

      Thirty years’ worth of public denigration of the trades has left us about where you’d expect. Young men (mostly, still) aren’t drawn to the difficult work, short-term jobs, lots of time on the road, and low pay. If you want more welders, you’ll have to make it worth their while.

      • Mooseflstc

        We should have never taken shop classes out of high school. Decommissioning the tenders and closing SIMAs didn’t help either.

  • Forgive me for sounding like a tech idiot, but I was unaware that we still used stick welders instead of MIG or TIG for ship work.

    • Herbert Hoover

      MIG and TIG require flooding the arc area with gasses. They don’t work well outdoors. Stick doesn’t have that limitation.