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NEWS | March 9, 2020

PSNS & IMF Partners with DLA Disposition Services to streamline submarine component recycling and disposal

By PSNS & IMF Public Affairs

Stewardship and responsible handling of Department of Defense assets is a long-standing priority for Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility. Disposition and recycling of materials has evolved significantly in the shipyard’s 129-year history.

Most recently, through collaborative efforts between PSNS & IMF and Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services, submarine recycling and shipyard disposal efforts made a measurable leap forward through the establishment of a Demilitarization as a Condition of Sale contracting program.

The program establishes an equipment disposal contract for services to downsize, load and transport large industrial plant equipment to DLA Disposition for the purpose of reutilization, transfer, donation or sales using barges to transport equipment from the shipyard to recycling and salvage vendors. The synergy between DLA and PSNS & IMF has helped to significantly reduce existing backlogs and provide solutions going forward.

“With a shipyard as old as ours, it is crucial to have a fully-capable disposition team that can meet the challenges needed to ensure we dispose of the government’s property correctly,” said Ty Olson, trade supervisor, Production Engineering and Facilities, Code 980. “This allows us to prevent environmental and classified spills, and ensure demilitarization and radiological requirements are followed.”

Submarine recycling is a complex evolution, in which the entire submarine is reduced from an operational vessel to salvageable pieces, many weighing up to 400 tons.

It is a labor-intensive process, involving the use of heavy tools and equipment to break down internal and external components. Demilitarization as a Condition of Sale allows for the disposal of large pieces of a vessel in accordance with DoD and U.S. Department of Commerce regulations.

 “The cost to downsize submarines and structures manually without using the DCoS program would entail a level of effort cost of at least $3.3 million and higher per barge, when considering the number of man-hours utilized, crane and rigging costs, hourly salary and average barge load size.” said Capt. Mark Harris, supply and logistics department head, Code 500, PSNS & IMF.

“Downsizing with a DCoS program contract reduces the level of effort cost to a minimum of $1.5 million, yielding the government a benefit in the amount of at least $1.7 million. Across six barges, that is a labor savings to the government of around $10 million dollars. Therefore, the larger the pieces of material that are loaded on a barge, the larger the savings to PSNS & IMF, and there is a benefit of increased employee health and welfare.”

Prior to the implementation of the program, the shipyard identified opportunities for improvement. Some areas identified were methods for lifting and transporting large materials, segregation of scrap metal, caisson disposal, managing electronic waste, ensuring the safety of personnel and hazardous waste handling.

“It’s significant for the ‘win-win’ benefits it affords to PSNS & IMF, DLA DS and the vendors that participate,” said Harris. “Success serves as a springboard for further engagement in view of our future the increasing recycling and disposal requirement.”

Immediate benefits include reductions in man-days to complete work, decreased repetitive-use injuries and worker fatigue, and the ability to reallocate valuable resources to work other mission-critical projects. In the long term, these efficiencies translate into increased workforce agility, allowing time for training and allocation to higher priority projects.

“It’s really about being smart on how we manage scrap materials,” said Michael O. Cannon, director, DLA Disposition Services. “This has never been done before, PSNS & IMF is the first command to do anything like this and we are really excited about increasing efficiency and the future applications for this program, ultimately resulting in a benefit to the warfighter and our shipyards.”

To continue the momentum of the program, PSNS & IMF and DLA Disposition headquarters hold weekly phone meetings to discuss operations and keep the critical lines of communication open to continually improve the methods in which the Navy disposes of its excess property.