NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center San Diego Logistics Support Team Provides Distance Support for Zumwalt Class

BY LT. JOHN WAURIO, Plans and Policy Officer Logistics Support Team, NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center San Diego

Sailors man the rails aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship pulls into Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
–photo by MC1 Holly L. Herline

The NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) San Diego Logistics Support Team (LST) pioneered the concept of distance support tailored to the littoral combat ship (LCS) platform. The distance support concept was developed to reduce the workload burdens bestowed on minimally manned crews of the LCS. In turn, a significant portion of supply management and food service functions traditionally performed by shipboard supply departments on legacy ships were moved ashore and are now performed by the FLC LSTs.

Zumwalt-class destroyers are designed to perform a wide array of mission types while requiring about half the crew size of a legacy destroyer. Given the extensive responsibilities of the ship’s supply department, the NAVSUP FLC San Diego LST was tapped to augment the aboard crew through distance support. However, distance support proved not to be a one-size-fits-all concept for different ship classes. It quickly became evident that the distance support model developed for the LCS would not work on the Zumwalt-class vessels.

The Navy’s newest destroyers are equipped with the same information technology infrastructure as legacy ships, not automated work notification, which helps to make LCS distance support possible. On Zumwalt ships – much like legacy ships – servers are located aboard, prohibiting the LST from remotely accessing the ship’s relational supply (RSUPPLY) database. To rectify this, the LST ran a three-month pilot program aboard USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) to observe and assess logistics management shortfalls.  The pilot program allowed the LST to tailor the distance support model to meet the unique needs of the Zumwalt class. From the pilot program, the LST determined that food service, government commercial purchase card, and fuel operations could mirror the support provided to the LCS ships. The need to differentiate support was mostly in stock control, due to the LST’s inability to remotely access RSUPPLY.

USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) set sail for San Diego on Nov. 9, 2018, with five scheduled port calls slated before her arrival on Dec. 7, 2018. Its maiden voyage provided the LST with its first opportunity to test the post-pilot distance support program to a Zumwalt-class ship at sea. The LST, in collaboration with PMS 500 and the ship’s crew, proactively planned logistics requirements for each port call during the sail around, to include port visit services, fuel requirements, and subsistence orders. With RSUPPLY installed on Michael Monsoor in early November 2018, the LST began the initial stages of providing the same distance support currently executed for USS Zumwalt.

Zumwalt had a chance to test its distance support capabilities during a recent extended underway period, during which the destroyer visited Ketchikan, Alaska; Esquimalt, British Columbia; and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. During the extended underway, the LST managed the mail routing instruction and fleet freight routing messages, ensuring Zumwalt received critical parts and mail at the right place and time. In fluid and extremely lethal environments, the ship will not always be able to convey its requirements to its shore-side support entity. The LST will be required to use nontraditional methods of communication to ensure the right parts are delivered to the right location.

As the records keepers for Zumwalt, effective communications were crucial to ensure the NAVSUP FLC San Diego LST complied with all P-486 requirements and that the ship was properly loaded with 60 days worth of provisions to sustain the crew at sea. The LST coordinated food requisitions for both Ketchikan and Pearl Harbor, ensuring that fresh fruit and vegetables, milk, and proteins were available to the ship’s crew.

Given the volatile environments in which the Navy operates, the support model for our newest class of ship will likely rapidly evolve. As it does, the NAVSUP FLC San Diego LST will continue to fine-tune its support to the Navy’s most technologically advanced vessels and remains poised to flex its logistics capabilities for the modern warfighter in today’s dynamic operational world. Agility in logistics will remain paramount to the Navy’s future success, and the NAVSUP FLC San Diego team is looking forward to playing a pivotal role in equipping America’s warfighting team with everything they need to accomplish critical missions around the globe.