NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY NAPLES, Italy (August 3, 2022) - Forward Deployed Regional Maintenance Center (FDRMC) and its mission partners conducted mid-deployment voyage repairs (MDVRs) throughout the U.S. Naval Forces Europe (NAVEUR) area of operations for ships in the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG). In a demonstration of combined logistics and maintenance capability in theater, FDRMC, U.S. Sixth Fleet, Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center Sigonella (NAVSUP FLCSI) and partners conducted comprehensive maintenance periods in Copenhagen, Denmark, Rijeka, Croatia and Brest, France in July 2022.
To remain fully mission capable throughout a deployment, ships such as Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) and San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24) require regular maintenance. Much of that maintenance can be accomplished at sea or when ships conduct a brief port visit. However, some maintenance must be completed pierside over a longer period of time due to job-specific requirements or parts. MDVRs are planned maintenance periods that allow U.S. ships to complete corrective and preventative maintenance that cannot be accomplished at sea.
“Taking time to conduct MDVRs to maintain and repair safety and mission-essential equipment aboard the ARG ships was crucial to ensure a successful continuation of the ARG’s deployment throughout Sixth Fleet,” Capt. Paige Sherman, U.S. Sixth Fleet’s Director Logistics (N41), said. “The deliberate maintenance and logistics efforts in these locations were challenging, but across the board, the pursuit to continuously work and develop relationships with our partners expands the readiness posture of our ships and strengthens interoperability with our Allies.”
The MDVRs’ locations forward from the maintenance community’s typical sites such as Rota, Spain and Souda Bay, Greece were unique. Gunston Hall’s MDVR in Copenhagen, Denmark marked a welcome expansion of maintenance efforts in the Baltic region. Arlington’s MDVR in Rijeka, Croatia was the first time FDRMC and its partners worked with Viktor Lenac shipyard to execute an MDVR for a commissioned warship, though the shipyard has long serviced Military Sealift Command ships such as Lewis B. Puller-class Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB 4) and U.S. Sixth Fleet flagship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20).
“We are intentionally focused on conducting maintenance forward and re-expanding our repair capability in ports throughout Sixth Fleet,” Capt. Brian Karosich, FDRMC commanding officer, said. “The Fleet Commander needs options to conduct repairs whenever and wherever needed, so executing MDVRs in new locations is a natural way for us to expand our efforts and build relationships with our Allies as well as industry partners.”
As a ship undergoes high-tempo operations, it requires regular maintenance to reduce the possibility of equipment failures that may impact its mission. To conduct a successful MDVR, FDRMC works alongside the ship’s crew and its port engineer to identify key maintenance items needed for the ship to remain operational as it continues its deployment. Those items are then developed into a contract solicitation, which is executed by NAVSUP FLCSI.
After a bid period, work is awarded to an industry partner to conduct the maintenance availability. An FDRMC maintenance team comprised of a shipbuilding specialist (SBS), project support engineer and a quality assurance specialist travel to the ship to oversee the execution of the work. Additionally, the FDRMC maintenance team may also coordinate efforts with Command Task Force 63, Bahrain-based FDRMC divers and other elements to support the contractor’s work or other maintenance conducted by ship’s force.
“Conducting maintenance overseas is challenging; conducting it forward of our regular locations, across the theater from Norway to South Africa adds additional variables,” Mr. Simon Godbout, FDRMC SBS for the Arlington MDVR, said. “It is extremely rewarding to work with all our partners to overcome those challenges and get the ship the maintenance it needs to remain successful for the remainder of the deployment.”
Though not a traditional MDVR, the flagship of the Kearsarge ARG-MEU, Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), underwent a maintenance period in Brest, France. The logistics and maintenance support provided to Kearsarge by FDRMC, FLCSI, and U.S. Sixth Fleet further demonstrated the power of partnership and the ability to foster relationships with Allies while executing maintenance.
While the ships are in port for planned, in-depth maintenance such as MDVRs, short-fused support requests also occur. In addition to planned maintenance, FDRMC supports emergent maintenance requests through Fleet Technical Assistance.
For the ARG ships, FDRMC technicians conducted On Board Technical Assistance (OBTA) aboard Kearsarge, Arlington and Gunston Hall. OBTAs allow a ship to receive additional maintenance assistance not previously planned for an MDVR period from FDRMC’s subject matter experts. The technicians also provide valuable training and mentorship for the Sailors aboard who operate and maintain the ship’s critical systems throughout the deployment.
Through planned and emergent maintenance support alongside ship’s force, the Fleet, NAVSUP FLCSI, CTF-63 and industry partners, FDRMC takes pride in conducting maintenance forward throughout U.S. Sixth Fleet whenever and wherever needed, keeping forward-deployed ships operational and ready to meet whatever tasking awaits.
FDRMC provides emergent, intermediate and depot-level maintenance and modernization for transient and Forward Deployed Naval Forces in U.S. Fifth and Sixth Fleets through fleet technical assistance, voyage repair, contract management oversight, assessments, and diving and salvage. For more information, visit https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Home/RMC/FDRMC/.