FDNF Logistics… Life in the Fast Lane

     If you are looking for a rewarding tour that will provide you logistics planning and execution experience like no other, then Forward Deployed Naval Force (FDNF) is where you want to serve.

     You are operational 24/7/365, and will juggle many competing priorities, support numerous exercises and engagements often at the same time, your innovation and imagination in providing efficient logistics solutions will be tested time and time again and in the end you will depart with graduate level experience in supporting the Warfare Commander in an extremely challenging environment.

     Take for example USS George Washington’s (CVN 73) most recent return from sea trials in June where we conducted a NASCAR-like pit stop in order to get underway for deployment.  In a 20-hour period, we arrived pier side, offloaded 200 pallets of maintenance related material and retro generated from the underway; on-loaded food, ship store stock and parts; then conducted a full air wing on-load.  We were underway by 0900 the next morning, and conducted flight deck certification that afternoon.

     The precision execution of this herculean effort was amazing to watch, but far more impressive was the planning and coordination that went on behind the scenes to make it happen.  Integrated support was required between numerous departments onboard the ship, Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Yokosuka, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Ship Repair Facility personnel, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) personnel, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Distribution personnel, Commander Logistics Group Western Pacific (COMLOG WESTPAC), and Carrier Air Wing FIVE (CVW 5).

     This was accomplished during a short couple of days while underway, and resulted in simultaneous use of four cranes providing lift operations on two elevators and the flight deck, as well as the efficient flow of Japanese commercial trucks and busses to support the movement of more than 1,200 pallets, 900 tri-walls and 2,200 personnel.  All of this was done on time, professionally and most importantly safely without a single personnel or equipment casualty.

     The above example is just one day in the FDNF life.  For an even more challenging example, take a look at the 2012 deployment.  In a three-week period, we returned to Yokosuka after the summer half of deployment, offloaded the air wing, got underway and conducted a successful Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV), returned for the ship’s change of command, brought the air wing and stores aboard, and left again for deployment.  Many shipboard assignments don’t experience these events in a tour, much less a three-week period.  Logistics is critical to the successful outcome of such complex evolutions and the lead for planning and coordination falls squarely on Supply.

     Even day to day operational support carries additional challenges that must be overcome in FDNF.  The Indo-Asia-Pacific region is huge, and the tyranny of distance looms large.  Combined with 24/7/365 support to CVW 5 and the international engagement priorities of our Seventh Fleet and Commander, Task Force SEVEN ZERO (CTF 70) leadership, the logistics plan developed hand-in-hand with support providers must have the capacity for the vast sustainment requirements of the carrier three to four escort ships, and 70 aircraft.  It must also simultaneously be adaptable and flexible enough to absorb the constant changes that inevitably occur.  While some areas of the Pacific have well established Navy logistics hubs, others have little to no infrastructure at all, and we work closely with NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka and COMLOG WESTPAC to establish temporary support arrangements in these locations.

     Development of the logistics plan is the most interesting part for me, as this is where the team’s skills are truly put to the test.  We work with support providers to establish a network that spans the Pacific.  We also establish relationships with local national shipping companies and customs clearance personnel in order to shave precious hours off of processing and delivery times.  We establish temporary land shipping routes to support material delivery to carrier onboard delivery hubs, and coordinate temporary air routes with the Navy Aviation Logistics Office to air ship bulk materials to locations with no bulk receiving and storage capabilities.  Our planning skills are continuously tested and the results are clearly displayed in the operational readiness numbers enjoyed by CVW 5 and CTF 70 ships.

     As stated in our Chief of Supply Corp’s 2013 Guidance, our purpose is to “Optimize the Naval Support Network to meet the Operational Readiness and Quality-of-Life Requirements of our Maritime Forces.”  In FDNF, this charge must be met daily.  No where will you face more challenges, gain varsity-level experience and have your logistics leadership abilities honed than aboard a FDNF ship.  If you are willing to accept the challenge, the rewards are immeasurable.

By Cmdr. Sean Egge, Supply Officer, USS George Washington (CVN 73)