SNA NEWS: Navy Trying to Reverse Chronic Ship Maintenance Delays

By Yasmin Tadjdeh
The aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush sits in dry dock at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Virginia, in April.

Photo: Navy

The Navy is working on new ways to move ships out of scheduled maintenance faster and on time, said the sea service's assistant secretary for research, development and acquisition Jan. 15.

When James Geurts took the helm of naval acquisition, the service was not looking at maintenance as an integrated set of programs, he said during remarks at the Surface Navy Association’s annual conference in Arlington, Virginia. Instead, “we were looking at them as individual availabilities.”

The situation was akin to, “'I have 50 apartments — I need to get them all painted, but I'm not going to call the painter until the Friday before I need them on Monday, and I'm not going to tell them how much paint to bring until he gets there. And then I'm going to be shocked that we're going to not maybe get the right painters delivered at the right time,” he added.

Geurts said he and Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Robert Burke had recently met with ship repair industry CEOs to discuss vessel maintenance and how to make the process faster. The ship maintenance and repair business is a $10 billion a year enterprise, he noted. The service — which has long grappled with late or delayed maintenance availabilities — is examining the entire system and looking to make improvements.

While much attention is paid to big budget construction projects for new platforms, maintenance is just as important, Geurts said. A commander’s “warfighting capability tonight depends on that [maintenance] enterprise, not the new construction work,” he said.

However, the Navy has not historically applied all the necessary acquisition tools needed for effective maintenance, he noted.

“We hadn't put data into play,” Geurts said. “There was a lot of opinions, [but] there wasn't a lot of data.”

However, maintenance has been on an upward trajectory, he added. When Geurts started two years ago, the sea service was getting around 20 percent of its availabilities done on time. Last year, that was around 40 percent. This year, it is looking at 68 percent on time availability.

“Now we've got to do it in full and continue to figure out ... how do we take costs out?” he added.

Meanwhile, Geurts noted that the Navy had a busy acquisition year in 2019. The service facilitated more than $120 billion worth of contracts last year, he said.

“Curiously, we did 10 percent more in contracts with 10 percent less effort in one year,” he said. Anybody in business knows that's not a bad transformation in one year.”

The service worked with 20,000 different industry partners and more than 40 percent of its contracts were competed in full and open competitions, he said. Additionally, more than $16 billion went to small businesses. “Eighteen percent of every dollar in the Navy spent when directly to small business,” he said.

Topics: Logistics and Maintenance

Comments (2)

Re: SNA NEWS: Navy Trying to Reverse Chronic Ship Maintenance Delays

Until people start losing their obs and pensions wen reasonable 9funded) standards are not met, don't expect any improvement. Remember there is a big ceremony when a ship keel is laid, or a hull is launched, or a new ship series is announced. Be sure to sign some autoraphs next time a standard overhaul is performed on time, and on budget.

Brian Reilly at 12:41 PM
Re: SNA NEWS: Navy Trying to Reverse Chronic Ship Maintenance Delays

How about the Navy buying the repair parts required to fix the submarines in drydock. There is no material available to repair the ships. Can't fix broken valves if there is no replacement material.

Daniel Tidwell at 8:42 AM
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