How does one approach an 18-month project with a budget in the $200 million-range that is split among military, civilian leadership, Sailors, and contractors from various companies—all with a deadline that is nearly carved in stone? Such is the case with the recent completion of a dry-dock period for USS Essex
(LHD 2), currently in the midst of a $200 million Depot Planned Maintenance Availability (DPMA), the largest ever for the non-carrier surface Navy. Essex’s
Supply Department, charged with managing scarce resources, looked for a solution to maximize the available assets.
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Essex Supply Department under the ship shortly before departing dry dock
“Partnership was my first thought,” says Cmdr. Jerome White, the ship’s supply officer. “We’re doing a lot of things logistically in the yard period, but it’s these partnerships that have helped us get this far.” White explained that DPMA required so many logistical aspects: money, equipment, workforce, and supplies. How were we going to find it all? Leveraging available resources, he and his team began reaching out for assistance in order to better meet the ship’s goals, commitments, and deadlines.
NAVSEA Habitability ... Mattress Refurbishment
When a material need dictated an alternate solution to a common material support requirement, and the dark clouds of sequestration lurked, the Supply Department set sail through unchartered waters to provide for the welfare and comfort of its crew. Lt. Brock Walaska, Essex
stock control officer, engaged Toni Batisti of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) 05 to obtain approval for mattress refurbishment support (a service currently unavailable to San Diego based ships). With a 50 percent cost savings in comparison to the procurement cost for a new item, it seemed like the most logical avenue of approach for the problem at hand. However, while the potential cost savings made it a logical course of action, the technical challenges stood as barriers to mission accomplishment. However, the power of teamwork prevailed; the barriers were removed and approval was granted for a company to refurbish shipboard mattresses.
The teamwork involved Lt. Brock Walaska of Essex
, Toni Battisti of NAVSEA 05, Steve Marksbury of Commander Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet N43, Tom Gough, a senior readiness manager, and Usman Sorathia from Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division. The collaboration revisited technical specifications and reviewed fire testing procedures and process at a Navy lab in Dallas, Texas. In the end, collaboration and team work yielded a major supply support capability with significant potential cost savings for Essex
, as well as other San Diego-based ships.
NAVSUP WSS ... Care of Supplies in Storage (COSIS)
Marlon Carter, NAVSUP, Lt. Rey Cruz, Essex’s
aviation support officer, and LS2 Mark Calilong, also with aviation support, partnered with Gene Auerbach and Jeremy Wilson to leverage the value of the “Care of Supplies in Storage Program.” During the partnership, the team screened and processed 5006 depot level repairables (DLRs) and field level repairables (FLRs), repackaged 3,197 individual parts, found 17 misidentified items, identified 32 items for material condition downgrades and crated 89 DLRs and FLRs. The result was significant improvements in logistics support capabilities and, ultimately, operational readiness on board Essex
A primary role of a leader is creating and communicating a vision. Even more important is resourcing a plan to make the vision a reality. When Essex
commenced its 18-month availability with ambitions of improving logistics and service support capabilities, operational logistics readiness, as well as crew comfort and quality of life, the Supply Department was confronted with a common challenge faced by many organizations –not enough resources (personnel, money, and time). To address the lack of personnel resources, Essex
turned to a common team of operational enablers, the Reserves. Specifically, Essex
partnered with Navy Reserves NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Yokosuka, and its commanding officer, Capt. Bruce J. Weidner, as well as Commander Pacific Fleet, Logistics Readiness Support Detachment Bravo and its commanding officer, Cmdr. Michael Reiners, to leverage their logistics capabilities and capacity.
Cmdr. Reiners stated, “During the Essex
DPMA cycle, the Navy Reserve was able to cover some manning shortages and ensure the crew of the Essex
completed its critical work during this planned maintenance availability. The ability to augment Fleet units, such as the Essex
, reaffirms the immediate utility of the Reserves to act as a force multiplier both INCONUS and when deployed in theater to Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Additionally, while supporting Essex
, the Reserve members received valuable experience and training which, in turn, will help them better support the Fleet in the future. This has been a real cost effective win for everyone involved.”
The result was additional logistics expertise to meet the challenges associated with of an 18 month Dry-docking Phased Maintenance Availability. In the end, Essex
was able to gain analysis and execution of its annual financial management plan and warehouse and inventory support. This collaboration proved beneficial for both the Reserves, who gained valuable shipboard experience, and Essex
, which gained much needed manpower.
NAVSEA Inactive Ship’s Program (NISP)
When confronted with a material resource challenge, logistics specialist Chief (AW/SW) Joseph Deguzman engaged Steve Copeland of NISP and embarked on an uncommon solution for a common problem—significant material demands and a lack of resources to meet all of the requirements.
Leveraging the opportunities afforded by NISP, Essex
was able to meet some of the material demands by capitalizing on free-issue material found onboard ships of the Navy’s inactive Fleet. As a result, Essex
was able to obtain over $120,000 of material. This was a major feat that produced significant cost avoidances. The support of Copeland and NISP was key to improving material conditions onboard Essex
DLA Land and Marine and NAVSUP WSS Backorder Reviews
When common issues of a diminishing and shrinking defense industry impact the health of the Navy’s supply chain, the effects can be felt in the storerooms on board ships. It is no different for Essex
. However, the intensity of the pain was reduced with the support of a team of professionals from DLA Land and Maritime, Cmdr. Johnetta Thomas and Karen Blevins, as well as Maj. Joseph McNulty of NAVSUP WSS. During the yard period and in conjunction with the Integrated Logistics Overhaul/Program Management Review (ILO/PMR) team, these logistics and supply chain customer-oriented professionals set aside a dedicated block of time each month to help Essex
with some of the supply chain challenges such as aged backorders and a lack of material support for many of the maintenance requirements on board.
Lt. Rey Cruz and LSC Andy Zhang of Essex
aviation support leadership; and Walaska, LSCS Vernon Basa and LSC Trenda Fletcher of Essex
stock control leadership partnered with both DLA Land and Maritime and NAVSUP WSS teams to reduce aged backorders and obtain a number of material support requirements. Some of the toughest challenges were addressed and alleviated, leaving the tougher supply chain issues on the table for continuous review. The partnership provided for a dialogue that yielded improved material and logistics support capabilities, as well as a countless reduction in Essex
material backorders. The investment in a supply chain management partnership among Essex
, DLA Land and Maritime, and NAVSUP WSS paid major dividends for logistics and operational readiness on board Essex
DLA Troop Support Galley ... Equipment Procurement
During the restricted window of opportunity afforded a ship to upgrade laundry and galley equipment during an availability, all the stars must align to take advantage of the limited opportunity to improve supply and service support capabilities. A key enabler to maximizing the opportunity to order and receive as many pieces of laundry and galley equipment on board during availability, is the team of professionals of DLA Troop Support—Slotnic and Cmdr. Rick Wilson.
Working with this team, Essex
was able to significantly improve laundry and galley support services on board Essex
via close communication and frequent collaboration in support of the procurement and delivery of 105 pieces of equipment valued at more than $580,000. The impact of this partnership could never be quantified in terms of a measured result. However, the smile and high levels of morale realized onboard as Sailors enjoy basic crew comforts and quality-of-life services are immeasurable.
NAVSUP FLC San Diego ... Contracting Support
A successful yard period requires keen attention to details, close coordination among many maintenance stakeholders, and support from a great contracting team. Through a great working relationship with the contracting team from NAVSUP FLC San Diego, Essex
did not fall short of receiving the top-notch contracting customer care and support. NAVSUP FLC San Diego’s contracting team often times worked miracles while going above and beyond to deliver contractual support for 71 contracts valued at more than $8.6 million. Regardless of a major undertaking or a short fused requirement, Mr. Pat Walsh, and Primerose under the leadership of Cmdr. Brian Maxwell, delivered. They are key factors in Essex’s
major overhaul of numerous berthing, messing and other quality-of-life spaces, as well as enablers, with significant impacts on logistics rediness, crew comfort and operational readiness. Their impact is unseen but felt daily.
Overseeing the overhaul is not an easy job, and one that must be carefully coordinated and deftly managed. Integrating a crew of nearly 1,000 Sailors alongside an army of contractors to rebuild a ship the size of a small city is a job requiring partnerships, Joint management, and relationships among various organizations. Each has its own goals to achieve. However, working together for a common purpose; one of these goals is making sure a ship is rebuilt, refurbished, and returned to the fighting readiness state it occupies in America’s Navy.
By Lt. Richard Moore, SC, USN; Supply Department, USS
Essex (LHD 2)