NEWS | June 9, 2021

Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s Crew Boards Keep Focus on On-Time Delivery

By Michael Brayshaw, NNSY Deputy Public Affairs Officer Norfolk Naval Shipyard

What could be the benefits in supporting maintenance at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) if production shops had an easy and visible reference to understand the next jobs on deck, who is responsible for them, and when they are due? 

            Answering that question is NNSY’s crew boards, which sequences significant shop jobs, ensures ownership and brings visibility to any issues preventing timely accomplishment. 

            With recent reinstitution of crew boards in the production shops led by NNSY’s Woodcrafter Shop (Shop 64), Shipyard Commander Captain Dianna Wolfson said, “the team has reinvigorated use of crew boards for preparation and installation.  This is a great example of a team coming together, thinking outside the box, and taking ownership to ensure continuous process improvement getting back to the fundamentals of project work.”

            Efforts such as the crew boards support the Naval Sustainment System – Shipyards (NSS-SY) initiative being implemented across all four of the nation’s public shipyards. NSS-SY is modeled on the successful effort at the Navy’s Fleet Readiness Centers (FRCs) to achieve more mission capable F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers through a sense of urgency, willingness to challenge established ways of thinking, and ensuring quick change where possible.  The crew boards also align to the NAVSEA core principle of Reliability, which demands disciplined actions and daily commitment to support the warfighter, while placing trust in fellow teammates to make appropriate decisions and execute the mission. 

During his visit to last month’s NSS-SY workshop at NNSY, NAVSEA Commander Vice Admiral Bill Galinis said consistency and standardization are the most critical attributes to ensuring successful ship maintenance.  “Fundamentally, from yard to yard, project to project, work crew to work crew, we need consistency in being able to manage and execute our scope of work,” he said.   

            In a demonstration to Wolfson, Shop 64 Woodcrafter Dean Vaughn, Jr. pointed out how the crew boards help provide exactly that, ordering shop assignments through clearly marked information such as job descriptions, locations, responsible persons and start and completion dates.  It also shows the project key event that’s associated with any particular job, ensuring accountability in the shipyard drive to achieve its “One Mission” as “One Team.” “It tells you what we have going on as far as the whole boat and what our jobs consist of,” said Vaughan.  “Not only are we planning for one day, we’re planning the whole week, and it gets everybody mentally prepared for what upcoming events we have.”

            When coordinating multiple jobs across a production shop to support extensive and complex availabilities, it’s not a matter of if material, resource and coordination issues will ever come up, but when.   Shop crew boards helpfully highlight any of those issues, the cognizant owner, and what the team is doing to ensure the schedule stays on track.  When discussing crew boards with Wolfson, Preservation (Code 970) Trade Manager Brandon Frye said, “Anytime there’s a hiccup, it gets elevated, and as soon as I know about it, it’s my job to knock those obstacles out of the way.  With the boards we can see what dates are expected and what actions are on each site.  Anytime any new work comes into the window, we discuss it, we know it’s coming up, we make sure all our TGIs [Task Group Instructions] are ready to go, all our material’s here, and we have any special tooling we might need.  With support shops help, I’m not telling them today what I need tomorrow, I’m telling them this week what I’m going to need for next week.”

During one of NNSY’s recent America’s Shipyard videos, a forum where Wolfson highlights teams supporting NAVSEA’s top priority to reliably return ships back to the Fleet, she said, “That is absolutely gold!  It’s really impressive what you’re doing here!  I’m looking forward to taking this to the next level as we implement these crew boards across America’s Shipyard.  We’re all going to work together to drive these behaviors every day.  It’s making such a big difference for us and I see the excellence on the deckplate!”