Maintaining the Forward Deployed Naval Forces

     In one of his national speeches, President Barack Obama said, “As we end today’s wars, I have directed my national security team to make our presence and mission in the Asia-Pacific a top priority.  As a result, reductions in U.S. defense spending will not — I repeat, will not — come at the expense of the Asia-Pacific.”

     This shift in strategy is being coined as the “Pivot to the Pacific.”

     There are several U.S. warships that are permanently forward deployed in both Yokosuka and Sasebo, Japan.  Commonly referred to as our Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF), these ships are usually on a 72-hour tether to be ready to carry out the nation’s bidding.  FDNF ships are under the command and control of Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Commander, Seventh Fleet (C7F).   These ships are underway for majority of the year, operating in their natural environs where they belong … at sea.

     We all know that our warships are the most modern, highly capable complex pieces of machinery; indeed they’re some of the most lethal weapon systems in the U.S. arsenal.  FDNF ships operate in the entire breadth of C7F’s AOR to engage in Theater Security Cooperation (TSC), conduct and participate in multilateral/multinational exercises, missions, training, and/or simply to show the flag to deter any potential adversaries and assure our allies of our commitments to regional security and stability.  The FDNF is not only a potent weapon system but also an excellent tool for diplomacy.

     U.S. warships are robust.  They’re built to last, and can take a lot of “beating” (in wear and tear) — but Naval logisticians, either in uniform or not, including maintainers, engineers, technicians, and the thousands of civilian contractors and skilled private artisans who work on naval ships know that these warships require some occasional tender, loving, care (TLC) to keep them fully capable and mission ready.  To keep their engines ‘purring’ ready to answer bells, to ensure their communication suites transmit and receive ‘loud and clear,” and their defensive and offensive capabilities are fully operational and capable, etc…, require hundreds of skilled artisans,  technicians,  and workers to descend periodically on these ships during maintenance availabilities.

     CUE IN — Ship Repair Facility-Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) and NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Yokosuka.  These two maintenance and logistics organizations team up to tender that TLC to FDNF ships in order to provide the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CPF) and Commander, Seventh Fleet (C7F) with ready, able, mission ready and fully capable warships.

     SRF-JRMC is one of the larger Navy ship repair facilities outside of CONUS.  It provides the organic repair and maintenance capabilities and resources to repair/maintain the FDNF.  It provides the project planning, scheduling, production, materiel support, etc. during scheduled maintenance availabilities.   If required, SRF-JRMC can also provide emergent voyage repair capabilities to transient warships transiting in C7F’s AOR.  However, not unlike any other organization, SRF-JRMC’s resources are also constrained and can be stretched to the limit.

     CUE IN — FLC Yokosuka’s Far East Contracting Department.   FLC Yokosuka’s Far East Contracting Department provides SRF-JRMC the contracting services required to contract out or outsource any ship repair actions and work packages beyond its organic ability to execute.  In Yokosuka, SRF-JRMC usually farms out about 20 percent of the work in schedule maintenance availability; while in Sasebo, it farms out about 80 percent of its actions because of a smaller infrastructure.  SRF-JRMC is the biggest and most prolific customer of the Contracting Department in terms of both number of actions and dollar values.  SRF-JRMC’s ship repair contracts account for about 35 percent of the Department’s total actions, and about 40 percent in terms of dollar values.  For instance, in Fiscal Year (FY) 2012, FLC Yokosuka’s Contracting Department awarded 2,300 ship repair contracts for SRF-JRMC valued more than $83.9 Million, all in support of FDNF ships.  In the current fiscal year, though this past July, FLC Yokosuka Contracting Department awarded more than 1,563 contracts, contract modifications, and task orders valued more than $47.8 Million to private ship repair contractors.

     How does FLC Yokosuka execute all those contract actions?  In accordance with the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) Part 217.71, FLC Yokosuka has Master Ship Repair Agreements (MSRA) and Agreements for Boat Repairs (ABR) with several private ship repair facilities all over the C7F AOR.  These private industry facilities are evaluated, pre-qualified, and certified by a joint maintenance and contracting officer team before the facility can hold either a MSRA or ABR.  The evaluation and certification process ensure that the facility can perform and can meet at least the minimum requirement of ship repairs.  A certified MSRA contractor usually has a more robust facility and more extensive capability than an ABR contractor.  FLC Yokosuka publicizes all ship repair contract requirements on a full and open competition solicitation to all its certified MSRA/ABR holders.   Other ship repair facilities and potential ship repair contractors can and are invited to participate in the MSRA/ABR program so that they can compete and bid on contracts.  To encourage competition, to grow and maintain the industrial base, FLC Yokosuka routinely invites and assists potential contractors through the process of obtaining either an ABR or MSRA certification.

     This year, FLC Yokosuka is actively working on a follow-on ship repair and maintenance contract for the USS George Washington (CVN-73).  It’s called a Single Ship-Multi Option (SSMO) Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract with one base year and five one-year options valued at more than $126 Million.   A critically huge contract to ensure there are no gaps in maintenance coverage for the sole permanently forward deployed aircraft carrier.   Additionally, starting in calendar year 2014, the first of four DDGs will be undergoing a modernization to extend its service life.  This is another huge endeavor for both SRF-JRMC and FLC Yokosuka.

     It takes the combined and sustained effort of both SRF-JRMC and FLC Yokosuka to keep the FDNF well maintained and in good condition, such that the ships are mission ready and fully capable to do the nation’s bidding.

By Cmdr. Mark Ivan Axinto; NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka Far East Contracting Director