Supply Corps N41 Improves Navy Readiness at Fleet Readiness Center Southwest

BY CMDR. CHRIS ROESNER, Supply Corps Officer, Fleet Readiness Center South West, Weapon Systems Support

FRCSW maintains Navy and Marine Corps aircraft such as the F/A-18 Hornet, E-2C/D Hawkeye, CH-53 Super Stallion and the C-2 Greyhound. –photo by Scott Janes

In March, the Supply Corps placed me at Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) to standup the new N41 position there. This job encompasses end-to-end materiel management for aircraft and component lines. I manage 233 civilians and work closely with the NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support (WSS) Integrated Weapons Support Teams (IWST) to improve component throughput at the depot. There are plans to place Supply Corps commanders at Fleet Readiness Center East (FRC E) and Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRC SE) in the near future.  FRCSW is the largest aviation industrial facility in the Navy. FRCSW was established in 1919 on Naval Air Station (NAS) North Island, California, and is the first aviation maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) facility established in the Department of Defense (DoD), making the command the birthplace of naval aviation maintenance. FRCSW is the primary organic repair source for F-18 E/F components, and is a pivotal part of meeting and sustaining the secretary of defense’s goal of 341 mission capable Super Hornets. FRCSW also provides world-class support to Navy and Marine Corps tactical, logistical, and rotary wing aircraft and their components, by using state-of-the-art management systems.

In order to provide maintenance excellence where it’s most needed, FRCSW maintains field sites at Naval Base Ventura County – Point Mugu; Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton; Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar; NAS Fallon, Nevada; NAS Lemoore, California; NAS China Lake, California; MCAS Yuma, Arizona; MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii; NAS Whidbey Island, Washington; as well as Okinawa and Iwakuni, Japan. The command is home to a diverse work force of more than 4,900 personnel, including 866 active-duty military.

NAS North Island can be homeport to as many as three aircraft carriers at a time.

FRCSW aircraft programs have proven their value to the warfighter by returning 139 aircraft and major systems to the fleet in 2018. Those aircraft included 29 F/A-18 Hornet fighter-attack jets, four AV-8B Harrier attack jets, eight E-2 Hawkeye early warning aircraft, eight C-2 Greyhound logistical support aircraft, 60 H-60 Seahawk helicopters, 13 AH-l/HH-l/ UH-l helicopters, five CH-53 Super Stallion helicopters, two MQ-8B Fire Scout, six MV-22B Osprey and three CV-22B Osprey.

The component program has repair capability for more than 11,000 unique components used on Navy and Marine frontline aircraft. During fiscal year 2018 (FY18), the command produced over 33,000 components in support of fleet requirements. These included common avionics, hydraulics, control surfaces, and support equipment. FRCSW is the sole organic repair center for the LM2500 turbine engine that powers the Burke, Aegis, and Perry class surface ships.  During FY18, FRCSW rebuilt and returned seven LM2500 engines to the fleet.  This command that never had a supply officer (SUPPO) is embracing the newly created SUPPO (N41) position. The MRO process is closely comparable to supply chain management, and the N41 adds tremendous value by contributing to increased throughput, which leads to more parts and aircraft available to the fleet, and ultimately increased lethality through readiness. The Naval Aviation Enterprise development of an FRC SUPPO for end-to-end supply chain management addresses issues such as:

  • Materiel delays at the FRC inhibiting long-term, sustainable improvement of depot level performance,
  • Lack of 9B bit and piece parts that resulted in 20% of all repairs at FRCSW being delayed an average of 84 days, and
  • Gross demand inaccuracy resulting in inadequate stock posture contributing to 52% of current shortages in a highly variable system.

The new FRC N41 has taken ownership of three critical functions to increase production throughput:

  • Improving demand forecasting and stock posture by managing the throughput schedule, component bill of materiel, and ensuring an accurate replacement factor.
  • Developing a kitting process that treats the “artisan as a surgeon.” The kitting process provides the artisan with a kit for each component with all parts that are replaced at least 10% of the time. This process eliminates 14 plus days of repair turnaround time for all parts, and 100 plus days delay for parts awaiting sub-routes.  The goal is to pre-build six month’s worth of kits to ensure an adequate stock posture and a buffer that eliminates lead time by ensuring materiel is on hand prior to demand.
  • Expediting is a force multiplier for any Supply Corps officer, and taking over the function of expediting addresses the long-pole shortages by managing all available solutions.

Immediate corrective actions included changes to demand forecasting (e.g.  forecast update rate), kitting rollout, and placing shop-level expeditors to attack highest priority parts. Structural changes included management of materiel, longterm execution of activities, and setting the playbook for rollout of N41 and associated activities across all D-level FRCs.

Future initiatives include:

  • Developing a comprehensive end-to-end materiel support infrastructure for test benches and equipment,
  • Partnering with contracting activities to improve requirements development and streamline path to acquisition for critical requirements, and
  • Information technology system changes to improve materiel traceability, reduce repair turnaround time, and provide enhanced transparency on all factors affecting component throughput. 

I look forward to seeing the N41 position mature and become adopted across the other FRCs, enabling enhanced levels of materiel availability. This initiative is a critical Supply Corps contribution to aviation readiness. The skillsets we learn as SUPPOs are a natural fit for the industrial supply chain and add value through end-to-end logistics support.

I am thankful for my opportunity to have served in this capacity. I found my tour to be very rewarding and would encourage any SUPPO, passionate about component repair and materiel availability, to seek out this challenge.

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest is the Navy’s premier maintenance repair and overhaul center. Here the quarterdeck alights with the promise of a new day and the Coronado Bridge beaming in the background.
– photo by Mike Furlano