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NEWS | Dec. 22, 2021

NSS-SY pillar construct demonstrates multi-agency commitment to transformation

By Anna Taylor, PSNS & IMF Public Affairs

The Naval Sea Systems Command Transformation Office confirmed last month the final pillar construct for Naval Sustainment System – Shipyards, the Navy’s major initiative to improve work execution and shorten availability durations at the public shipyards.

NSS-SY began in 2019 as a pilot program designed to remove barriers to productivity and in September 2020, expanded to all four public shipyards with a focus on integrating industry and government best practices with the rigorous requirements tied to planning and executing submarine and aircraft carrier maintenance.

According to Matt VanRavenhorst, NSS-SY champion at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility, the goal of NSS-SY is not just to improve the way the shipyards currently do things, but to fundamentally transform them.

“Over time, concepts that pay off will be retained and adapted, while the ones that don’t help improve on-time delivery will be discarded,” said VanRavenhorst. “The most important takeaway is that the system is bigger than the individual shipyards. If we don't fix the system, none of the efficiencies we gain will result in sustainable wins.”

This philosophy led to the development of the NSS-SY pillar construct, a visual representation of the alignment methodology that enables interagency cooperation, ownership and accountability across business streams. VanRavenhorst calls it a big win for the maintenance community when it comes to Navy-wide alignment and collaboration on corporate strategies and priorities.

Each pillar represents one of nine key areas of responsibility where systemic barriers tend to inhibit productivity: Engineering, Planning, Materials, Inside Shops, Waterfront, Shipyard Resourcing, Fleet Operations, Infrastructure, and IT.

Of the nine pillars, PSNS & IMF has taken corporate lead on two: the Waterfront Pillar, led by Elaine Priest, submarine program manager; and the Inside Shop Pillar, led by Mike Irby, production resources manager. Priest and Irby report directly to Rear Adm. Howard Markle, deputy commander, Logistics, Maintenance and Industrial Operations for NAVSEA, on the design, implementation and change management strategy for their respective pillars.

The other seven pillars also have PSNS & IMF leads who are responsible for designing corporate NSS-SY strategies and initiatives, and championing the local efforts within their AORs to drive change and prioritize resources.

“We talk a lot about making improvements that impact the production workforce, but NSS-SY is really about leadership’s commitment to removing obstacles outside the employee’s control,” said Capt. Jip Mosman, commander, PSNS & IMF. “It’s about understanding all the things our employees are already doing right, all the innovations they’re already making, and scaling those ideas to other shops, codes and shipyards. It’s about getting them the resources they need so they can unleash their full potential, unrestrained by work stoppages and inefficiencies.”

The success of the Navy and its ability to support a strong national defense strategy rest on the level of readiness the shipyards provide. To that end, the Navy is fully engaged in the NSS-SY transformation effort.

“We have support from all sectors of NAVSEA, the Program Executive Offices for both aircraft carriers and submarines, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Naval Supply Command, Defense Logistics Agency, the Chief of Naval Operations, and more,” explained VanRavenhorst. “We are in routine conversation with these and other senior leaders from the Pentagon.”

These external entities are responsible for executing NSS-SY initiatives and providing key information and support from their respective organizations.

“If we don’t deliver on our commitment to finish availabilities on time, every time, we may lose our credibility as global industry leaders, and our naval shipyards may be unable to execute required future nuclear vessel maintenance,” said Mosman. “It’s why we must align behind our common goal, our shared mission, in support of NSS-SY. Our Navy needs its ships, and those ships need our workforce.”

“We all have a role to play and the engagement of every single employee is what we need for this transformation to be successful,” added VanRavenhorst. “The amount of time a ship is in the shipyard matters. Every extra day spent in maintenance is one less day a ship is available to deploy in support of our national security.”