Underway on Nuclear Power

March 5, 2013 | By scnewsltr

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VIRIN: 130305-N-ZZ219-0248
Capt. Mark Dibble, Code 87 Director, (forth from left) and Tom Wiechelt, Code 87 Deputy Director (far right) pose for a group picture with Code 87 Mechanicsburg employees.

“Underway on nuclear power.”

 Those were the famous words broadcast by USS Nautilus (SSN 571) as she set sail for the first time on January 17, 1955, the first naval vessel in history to operate under nuclear propulsion. 

 With more than 150 million nautical miles safely steamed on nuclear power since then, naval nuclear propulsion has become a key instrument in our national security strategy. 

 When a world crisis develops, it is said that the first question posed by the President is, “Where are the carriers?”  Today, nuclear powered hulls constitute about 44 percent of our Navy’s combatant ships, with a composition of 10 aircraft carriers, 54 attack submarines, and 18 strategic ballistic missile submarines … four that were converted to guided missile submarines. 

 The ability to achieve forward deployed presence, bolstered by unprecedented reliability, survivability and sustainability, nuclear power is the driving force behind our nation’s most critical missions.  This program is well known for its stringent design, rigorous training programs, and recruitment of our nation’s greatest talents.  This is evident by the program’s unparalleled record of safety.  The Nuclear Reactors Supply Chain Management Directorate (Code 87) of NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support (WSS) plays a key role in the success of this critical program. 

 End to End Support …

 Adm. Hyman Rickover wrote, “Unless you can point your finger at the man who is responsible when something goes wrong, then you have never had anyone really responsible.” 

 This ethos led to the formation of the Special Equipment Division of the Ships Parts Control Center in 1957.  More than half a century later, the Nuclear Reactors Supply Chain Management Directorate (Code 87) of NAVSUP WSS exists as the separate, vertical organization which is solely responsible for program management, repair part provisioning, allowance list maintenance, cataloging, packaging, inventory management, item identification, procurement, and procurement quality assurance in support of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program equipment and components.

 In a true testament to the statement, “you get what you measure,” the directorate’s stringent performance based metrics are not goals, but requirements.  Three of Code 87’s more prominent requirements are the maintenance of a minimum supply material availability of 95 percent; the maintenance of a minimum of six months’ supply of all reactor chemicals; and 100 percent Nuclear Reactor Propulsion Plant (“Q”) Coordinated Shipboard Allowance List (COSAL) outfitting for nuclear powered ships and submarines undergoing new construction and overhauls.  Led by Director, Capt. Mark Dibble, and Deputy Director, Tom Wiechelt, the Directorate comprises 177 employees located across the globe.  Sales for fiscal year 2012 totaled $94.8 million. 

 Focused Alignment …

 Perhaps the most impressive fact about Code 87 is that the responsibility for the life cycle support of NAVSUP WSS managed nuclear reactor plant material resides within the walls of a single building in Mechanicsburg, Pa. 

 Code 87 epitomizes the concept of total supply chain management from its assignment of National Stock Numbers (NSNs), and cataloging functions, to its cultivation of a vendor base that can facilitate the rigorous requirements of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.  The core of Code 87’s business is the stock control of nearly 70,000 line items of Naval Reactors equipment and components.  Items are managed on a commodity basis, with consumables constituting 96 percent of the Code’s business profile.  The Directorate enjoys a dedicated contracting department that applies an innovative, team-based approach to procurement.  Teams include personnel who focus on fast moving items, a team that works large buys, and specific contractor/customer focused teams. 

 The Directorate also engages other key players in the supply chain by maintaining a Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Interaction Team.  The team executes and oversees the NAVSUP WSS – DLA Land and Maritime Performance Based Agreement that establishes stringent standards for the supply support of DLA managed nuclear reactor plant material and advocates for the Fleet customer. 

 From the Fleet’s perspective, Code 87 is most visible through its responsibility for the support, budgeting and distribution of “Q” COSAL Automated Shore Interfaces (ASIs), which provide the most up to date configuration and piece part data.  The Directorate maintains Waterfront Representatives at the homeports of all nuclear powered hulls, and private new construction shipyards, to implement “Q” COSAL ASIs, and provide on-site customer interaction and assistance. 

 For submarines and submarine tenders undergoing Integrated Logistics Overhauls, and for aircraft carriers undergoing refueling maintenance availabilities, Code 87 must coordinate with all internal and external stakeholders and the ship to attain 100 percent onboard of all “Q” COSAL repair parts (OBRP) prior to the ship’s fast cruise date.  This is a tremendous accomplishment when one considers the introduction of new repair parts into the supply system and lead times required to procure and produce material. 

 Code 87 supports all four Naval Shipyards -- Portsmouth, Norfolk, Puget Sound and Pearl Harbor -- maintaining employees at each Naval Shipyard who hold the responsibility of leveraging Navy wholesale stock to fulfill shipyard nuclear shop store requirements.  Additionally, Code 87 has dedicated personnel at the two private shipyards, who are responsible for the outfitting of new construction submarines and aircraft carriers. 

 With PCU Gerald Ford (CVN 78), the lead ship of her class and a newly designed reactor plant just a few years from commissioning, Code 87 is hard at work assigning the stock numbers, determining the requirements, and procuring the material to get her 100 percent “Q” COSAL OBRP support.  

By Lt. Jacob Whiteley, SC, USN

Fleet Support Officer, NAVSUP WSS 87


Lt. Jacob Whiteley was commissioned via the Navy ROTC program at the University of California, Berkeley.  He previously served as Supply Officer and Ships Diving Officer on the Trident submarine, USS Kentucky (SSBN 737) (GOLD).   He has served in the Nuclear Reactors Supply Chain Management Directorate since June 2010.