NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD, Portsmouth, Va. —
Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) held a Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP) Kickoff Oct. 1, beginning the next steps to help modernize one of the Navy’s oldest assets in the United States. SIOP is a 20-year, $21 billion program dedicated to completely refurbishing the nation’s four public shipyards by modernizing equipment, improving workflow and upgrading dry docks and facilities. The Navy's four public shipyards -- NNSY, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY), Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS&IMF), and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PHNSY&IMF) -- perform a vital role in national defense by executing maintenance on submarines and aircraft carriers in order to provide combat-ready ships to the fleet. Originally designed and built in the 19th and 20th centuries to build sail- and conventionally-powered ships, the Navy's public shipyards are not efficiently configured to maintain and modernize nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines. With the Navy's needed focus on operations, the aging shipyards have been unable to adequately sustain and optimize their facilities, utilities, dry docks, equipment and information technology infrastructure. These inefficiencies and aging facilities result in higher maintenance costs, schedule risks and reliability issues.
“Our public shipyards are some of the most vital assets our nation has to offer – they are also some of the oldest locations that were set up for a time where our focus was building the fleet from the ground up,” said SIOP Program Manager Steve Lagana. “We in the Department of Defense (DoD) used to be frontrunners in our industry and the cutting edge in developing and maintaining our fleet. However, as our facilities continue to age and become obsolete as we move into the future – we continue to fall behind.”
Lagana continued, “When I first joined the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA 04) team, I was asked to take a hard look at the shipyards and come up with a solution for how we could address the modernization issues as a whole. Performances at the shipyards were not ideal and we needed to figure out a way forward. Contributing factors to poor performances included equipment, facilities, and workforce size – all things we needed to take a turn on to address. Trying something that had never been done before in our Navy, I took a look at the shipyards as a whole instead of their individual areas in need of attention. We’ve never set out to make a cohesive, integrated strategy or overall plan for how to bring our assets into the future. This was a chance for us to take a look at the bigger picture and take those next steps.”
SIOP began in 2018 and NNSY has been hard at work gathering data and developing strategies for how to successfully optimize its layout and performance capability. Following a successful campaign at PHNSY&IMF to create a digital twin of their facilities, NNSY has kicked off its efforts in developing a model for its facilities as well. This digital twin would fully capture the facilities, equipment, and dry docks at America’s Shipyard, providing a digital tool used in planning and simulation to determine what’s needed to ensure a cohesive layout for optimal performance.
“With these digital models, we can set the stage for NNSY and the other public shipyards to become a smarter and more predictive shipyard,” said Lagana. “We can track the flow of the shipyard and see where we need to make adjustments, especially on the waterfront where the workforce works each and every day to maintain our nation’s assets. For example, at Pearl Harbor we tracked a valve going from shop to shop for repair. At its current layout, the valve bounced around from place to place and it was overall not set up for success. With this digital model, we can simulate new ways to layout our shipyards to help save mandays and decrease duration – and overall make our shipyards more efficient and modernized.”
As part of this next step, NNSY will begin surveying its employees to gather data in an effort to build a better tomorrow for its facilities and for its workforce. “The SIOP initiative is a tremendous effort to ensure our facilities best support our workforce, our Fleet and our Navy,” said NNSY Commanding Officer RDML Howard Markle. “At Norfolk Naval Shipyard, we aim to optimize, innovate, and modernize our facilities to more efficiently and effectively maintain the Navy’s warships as wells as recruit and retain the best and the brightest at America’s Shipyard.” To learn more about SIOP, visit https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Home/Shipyards/SIOP/.