Naval Station Norfolk, VA —
Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center’s (MARMC) Engineering Department is rounding out 2018 with a renewed emphasis on their integration into the maintenance availability teams. For years now, MARMC’s Project Support Engineers (PSE) have served as technical subject matter experts (SME) for ships going through Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) avails. As their presence grows on the avail teams, the concept of the Engineering Service Desk (ESD) has begun to take shape.
Using processes that have been developed over the last 15 years, the Engineering Department has begun to refine and bolster their approach and influence on CNO avails with the expectation of meeting the command Strategic Business Plan priorities.
“Our PSEs have a vast wealth of experience and knowledge,” said MARMC Availability Support Division Director Norm Schimming. “Some of them have been in this role so long, they can anticipate the Condition Found Reports (CFR) before we receive them. That intimate knowledge of the job will be the driving force behind the ESD.”
MARMC’s ESD consists of a PSE that is tied in with every availability maintenance team and will be supplemented with back-up team members in four specialty areas that have been identified in past avails as needing additional support. These include, diesel engines, structural, shafting and underwater hull preservation.
“Managing an availability is a very cumbersome process since it involves so many moving pieces, all of which need to be done to precise specifications. In the last couple of years, the Navy has moved to fixed-price contracting and it has created more pressure for contractors and the oversight teams to make the right decisions in a timely manner,” said Schimming.
This is where the ESD will get a chance to shine. Team members will flex and surge at the particular times a ship’s maintenance requires them to be on deck. Typically, when an engineering issue arises, a ship’s contractor team (the team that is carrying out the repair and maintenance work at any of the regions private shipyards) will submit a CFR to MARMC’s maintenance team. In the past, if the PSE assigned to the maintenance team couldn’t answer the call they would then submit an Engineering Service Request (ESR) to have the issue adjudicated by a MARMC SME. Through the ESD, there will now be the option of cutting that step out when and where possible.
“At that point if the PSE themselves or if one of their SMEs, such as myself, can answer the question we will resolve it right then through the Naval Maintenance Database (NMD), which tracks all of the work being performed on the ship,” said Dean Newcomb, who serves as a structural assessor from MARMC’s Architectural Branch. “This helps streamline the process tremendously. The ESR process is very involved and time consuming. Being able to get the answers to the maintenance team on the fly helps cut down our response time and keeps maintenance moving forward.”
“We want to minimize any delay if we can because the date that was set for the end of the avail is the target we want to hit,” said MARMC PSE Steve Bedell, who is currently working with the USS Nitze (DDG 94) Maintenance Team. “The longer it takes us to get an engineering question answered, the further back you are pushing critical work.”
To even further this effort, MARMC’s PSEs have begun working closer with the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM). Having access to these individuals gives an extra layer of assurance when resolving a technical issue.
“Some of these systems may have manuals that are 400 pages or more,” said MARMC PSE John Williams. “It is a huge benefit to be able to discuss very technical aspects of these repairs with the OEM, which again helps keep the work moving. That technical oversight is extremely important especially once these ships are returned to the fleet. It is our responsibility to ensure they are mission ready.”
With the addition of these key members to the maintenance teams, MARMC will continue to look into other areas their specialized engineering awareness can provide additional support throughout the life of an avail.
“There is such a vast wealth of knowledge here at MARMC. We have a robust group of guys who have backgrounds in nearly every specialized area of expertise on a naval vessel. Just among our PSEs we all bring something to the table and we talk to one another. We know who to go to with certain questions to get the answer and correct documentation as fast as we can,” said Bedell.
“The great things about this ESD process is it reaches into every shipyard on the waterfront. So not only are we giving this support to the big deck ships, but I assist with Landing Craft Units and even some of the barges. Anywhere we can lend our expertise – we will assist,” added Newcomb.
Having such a vast network of engineers and technicians to rely on gives the ESD multiple entry points for technically competent resolutions to be administered during any given avail.
“At the beginning of all avails that MARMC has oversight of, we are going to have the right people in place,” said Schimming. “Whether that is the PSE, a diesel engine inspector or we enhance support with one of our preservation engineers, our goal is to provide that ship with the resources they need from the first day until they are steaming toward their next mission. That’s the impact we want the ESD to have on the Atlantic Fleet.”