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NAVSEA 21 Producing More Ready Ships

by Vice Admiral Roy Kitchener
25 April 2022
Good afternoon and thank you for inviting me to give my thoughts. As you know we need to deliver every available ship to the fight with the most capable systems, sustain them, and, if necessary, repair them and get them back in the fight. To create UNITY OF EFFORT to support these objectives, we developed the Surface Force’s plan of action titled “The Competitive Edge.” If you were at SNA this past January you heard me speak about it. Competitive Edge is comprised of five Lines of Effort, each with a different lead.
They are:
  1.  Develop the Leader, Warrior, Mariner, and Manager
  2.  Produce More Ready Ships
  3. Achieve Excellence in Fleet Introduction
  4.  Create Clear and Innovative Operational Concepts,     and;
  5. Establish Infrastructure for the Future Force.
NAVSEA 21 is a key partner and fundamental to implementing and achieving our Competitive Edge objectives.

I’d like to specifically focus on LOE 2 and 3 because it’s where we need your unbridled support. They are the biggest drivers helping us achieve our North Star Goal -which you may not be familiar with, but it is now our guiding strategic imperative for the Surface Force Enterprise.
North Star
Our North Star Goal is 75 Mission-Capable (MC) ships by FY 24.

Simply put, we need to have 75 ships that are Basic Phase Tier 1 complete and prepared to be receive additional resources to achieve Full Mission-Capable (or DRSS C-1/C-2) level of readiness to support wartime missions in the event conflict arises. Mission Capable ships fall into the second of three categories we have determined for the Surface Force. The other two categories are Non-Mission Capable (ships that are in a CNO availability, modernization or other maintenance period that limits them from conducting missions at sea),

And Full-Mission Capable (ships that are fully complete with their certification cycles and without any major degradations). These three groups help us better understand the health and readiness of the Surface Force at any given time. Moreover, the North Star objective is methodology to measure and quantify readiness. It is the objective of the Surface Analytics Group (SAG) to take the North Star and apply it.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, the SAG builds upon our existing analytic effort and focuses on two broad readiness goals -generating more ready ships for tasking and improving ship self-sufficiency. These efforts drive overall execution of our Man/Train/Equip missions by leveraging cross-domain data. The SAG is expanding the analytic effort across the Surface Warfare Enterprise and has started using machine-learning (ML) algorithms to analyze massive amounts of data that provide accurate, common situational awareness to drive priorities and decision making.

In other words, we are harnessing AI/ML to assess factors underlying operational readiness. The P2P-Surface effort will also inform and provide alignment to other analytic efforts in the Navy -for example, P2P MyNavyHR; P2P Log; NSS Supply; and NIF Endurance Supply. The cross-domain data we are receiving through the SAG enables a visualization for decision-making.
The SAG and the Mission-Capable ship categorization provide us easily understood and accessible data metrics.

It will allow for better informed decision-making at the Echelon One level to determine best return on investment for readiness. It’s also informing fleet commanders of how many ships are ready available to support their operational tasking. This prompts a follow-on question…what is all this data telling us? Well, it’s telling us that, maybe, we don’t have enough ready ships.
Produce More Ready Ships

We need to put more effort into Producing More Ready ships.

For the 19 CNSF DDG-51 avails with approved end dates in FY 22: two have been completed on time, five were completed late, five were extended, and seven are on plan. For the seven CNSF CG-47 avails, including modernizations: two were completed late, four have been extended, and one is on schedule. For the four CNSF LHA/D avails: one has been completed on time, one was completed late, one has been extended, and one is on schedule. For the four CNSF LCS avails: one was completed late, two have been extended, and one is on schedule. Not a very good box score.

Today, there are 41 maintenance availabilities underway across both TYCOMs and only 14 of those are assessed as GREEN. For FY-22 avails we estimate only 47% will finish on time. Our number one obstacle to getting ships to MC status is material readiness.
Producing more ready ships touches on every aspect of maintenance; from Voyage Repair to our most complex modernization availabilities. The Surface Force’s ability to produce more ready ships,

And achieve our North Star goal is primarily influenced by the number of ships completing CNO Avails on time. If we reduced DoMD to zero we would be able add over 1200 steaming days for the Surface Force, as well as save countless dollars earmarked for avail extensions and rework.
One of the areas where I need your help, and an area that I know would further reduce DoMD is Quality Control. We continue to experience significant problems with industry in work done improperly and with insufficient oversight.

QC programs need work and SEA 21 investment, especially in mid-level oversight would pay dividends. We must shift from a focus on Quality Assurance to Quality Control. There is nothing more deflating than re-work and the ripple effect of extended availabilities can be felt throughout the fleet. We need to shift back to a targeted quality control model that avoids an excessive number of check points. I need your help in refocusing industry around this concept. Reducing DoMD and enforcing a targeted quality control program will help us get to on-time completion.

Another program we’ve established to support our ships material readiness are the Surface Maintenance Operations Centers (SMOCs) at both SURFPAC and SURFLANT. The SMOCs under Surface Team One, and spearheaded by RADM McLane, are designed to manage ship-class/system cost drivers and operational risks throughout ship life cycles to…
  1. Prevent delivery of ships without a funded life cycle sustainment plan.
  2. Identify issues on ships already delivered and take corrective action, and,
  3. Prioritize resources needed to implement corrective actions. 
Each SMOC is working to drive down CASREPs, prioritize repairs and parts and improve our Mission-Capable numbers.  The SMOCs use data-driven, analytically-based information to develop integrated solutions with key stakeholders. They are another tool to ensure decision-making and corrective action take place at the appropriate levels.
Fleet Introduction/Modernization

The degree of complexity of the ships and systems we are adding to the fleet this decade is unprecedented. The number of separate operational, logistical, training, administrative and other support functions that accompany fleet introduction is substantial and must be sustained throughout the life of the class. Doing so for an anticipated seven new platforms and three modernized versions will be a tremendous challenge.
DDG Modernization fits, squarely, in this category. DDG 2.0 modernization provides game changing, new capabilities into the hands of our Sailors to give us an incredible advantage but we must be able to deliver it to them. Modernizations are complex and the proposed durations are unacceptable to a fleet that needs both capability and capacity forward quickly. We must focus on this effort and it must be coupled with programs to empower and educate our deckplate leaders, project managers, and industrial partners on the merits of P2P so that we can all use the aggregate information to streamline our processes and remove barriers.

We need deckplate managers to use these P2P metrics in assessing availability execution and planning. Leveraging these metrics WILL drive execution efficiency.
In doing so we must identify process chokepoints and streamline operations, whether it be driving down contract change cycle times, sequencing work, or bringing systems back online. The ability to initiate SOVTs, especially in regards to the auxiliary support systems
–which compress test windows, induces risk to Combat Systems Lite-Off (CLSO) on-time completion. We cannot continue to take delivery of partially completed ships with a strategy to finish outstanding work items during a PSA or further downstream. A number of recent platform deliveries has shown, this approach doesn’t work. We need to deliver ships to the TYCOM so we quickly train and prepare them for duty forward. We must work together and keep clear lines of communication to reduce variance and align our views.

I need your continued support with improving system restoration processes within availability and modernization timelines. We must ensure SOVTs are conducted on schedule, prior to end of avail. We are leaving too much risk to the end of availabilities. Too often we finish avails with exceptions and a vague plan to accomplish the remaining work at a later date. The result is systems unavailable for use during the Basic Phase and the delay of certifications until the SOVTs are properly completed.

To give you an example, this past month there were 30 open SOVTs within availabilities that had four weeks remaining. That’s not enough time to properly accomplish a large amount of checks, especially when Ship’s Force is focused on LOA or a readiness evaluation. Our team at CNSF is working with NAVWAR and PEO IWS to compile SOVT and system restoration metrics. This data has not yet been fully incorporated into the P2P-Surface process but it’s an area we’ve identified as work and SEA 21 should be involved. I encourage your teams to join the conversation and help us document and reduce these timelines.

Additionally, we need to expand both our capability and capacity to fix ships in the United States and our overseas territories, especially Guam and Hawaii. Expansion of our industrial base to support a 500 ship Navy is an investment in our national security. We need more and better maintenance piers, dry docks, etc. We have piers in Hawaii for example that aren’t capable of handling the weight or ordinary cranes. We have underinvested in our maintenance infrastructure for too long and we must establish the infrastructure we need for the coming fight.

I recently spoke at the National Ship Repair Industry Conference on those areas where we need to improve to ensure availabilities finish on time, including better planning, ensuring all required drawings and long lead time materials are on hand at the right time, getting through open and inspects by the 20% mark, developing and utilizing detailed integrated production schedules, SMRs, and ruthlessly executing with superior quality control. There is still lots of work to do but I remain cautiously optimistic as our DoMD numbers compared to last year are improving.

And you know, I think now’s an appropriate time to talk about additive manufacturing. I recently spoke with the NAVSEA O5T team about our efforts to incorporate 3D printing capabilities into the fleet to reduce the burden on parts procurement and repair.  So far only eight surface ships have been fitted with additive manufacturing capabilities, three with advanced manufacturing labs and five with stand-alone 3D printers. Are we satisfied with this progress? I’ll be honest, I’m not. 3D printing technology has been around for over 10 years now and from where I sit, I’d say that we’re behind.

I don’t mean behind any of our potential adversaries—because I don’t know their capabilities—but behind where we ought to be given the state of technology and the obvious need. Our ships and our Sailors depend on us to provide them the best possible tools available, and in doing so we produce more ready ships.

Finally, I’d like to discuss industrial safety practices and preventing accidents before they occur. It’s been almost two years since the Bonhomme Richard fire and in that time, we’ve completed a Major Fire Review, instituted a new damage control training program (DC-I), and begun no-notice Fire Safety Assessments across our waterfronts –verifying ship compliance with established guidance and reducing variability in enforcement – thx for your support.

Recently, though we called for a suspension of all surface navy work at a major shipyard following a series of safety mishaps. There is No Gray Area – ZERO Tolerance in all facets of safety. We need your help to elevate and drive adherence to the fire safety standard. We’re troubled that it was CNSF HQ who intervened on what was clearly a path to another major mishap. The LMA, RMC, Ship did not stop the work. We need to understand why? There are some great lessons from the stand down which just concluded and we’ll share with the Team and we can provide some wave tops in Q&A.

My team has been working to put together an 8010 playbook. The 8010 instruction as currently written is cumbersome and unwieldly. We need your help to distill the instruction down and craft a playbook that will be accessible and actionable to the fleet. It is our job to ensure adherence to industrial safety standards. I would also like to thank the team at NAVSEA for hiring FME fire safety officers. Investments into fire safety standards are always worthwhile.

So as I finish my remarks, how are we doing? In short, we’re making strides, but we’re at an inflection point. While the fundamentals of ship repair have remained the same our technical requirements and warfighting systems changed significantly. We must help each other, continuously advance our tools, our methodology, and our ingenuity to rebuild our industrial edge. Readiness, Capability, Capacity that is what we must deliver – it is our strategic imperative.

Thanks again for the invitation to speak to you today. I am grateful to you all for your hard work. With that I’ll open things up to any questions you may have.

Commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, 2841 Rendova Rd. San Diego, CA 92155-5490
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Commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, 2841 Rendova Rd. San Diego, CA 92155-5490

This is an official
U.S. Navy website

U.S. Pacific Fleet
2841 Rendova Rd
San Diego, CA

Public Affairs Officer

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