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OPEN FOR BUSINESS: NSWC Panama City’s CSTRS Depot rapidly delivers fleet solutions despite COVID-19

By Katherine Mapp | NSWC PCD Public Affairs | June 11, 2020

PANAMA CITY, Fla. —

Despite challenges associated with the COVID-19 environment, the Carriage, Stream, Tow, and Recovery System (CSTRS) Depot team at Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) is continuing to rapidly deliver solutions while meeting emerging fleet needs.

CSTRS provides a capability to helicopters to conduct Airborne Mine Countermeasures by locating mines, classifying mines, and detonating them.

According to Torger Reppen, CSTRS Project Manager, the system is maintained and repaired locally by a depot of subject matter experts after fleet usage.

“When the fleet uses CSTRS, it is exposed to harsh conditions such as saltwater spray, hot weather on ship decks, and many, many modes of transportation. The sailors conduct certain periodic maintenance after every use,” said Reppen.  “However, over time, the system needs a full depot level overhaul. The fleet sends the equipment to us for maintenance and we service it before returning it to the fleet.” 

The purpose of the overhaul is to extend the life of system. To properly care for the system, the Depot personnel routinely replace seals and wear surfaces, replace nuts and bolts, overhaul the paint job, make repairs, and incorporate upgrades. Reppen said CSTRS units look quite new when they leave the Depot en route to the fleet users.

The CSTRS Depot team consists of nine personnel, ranging from mechanical, electrical, and fiber optic technicians, to engineers, inventory specialists, and safety. Almost as many support personnel physically work apart from the Depot, while supporting the mission, such as financial analysts, logisticians, project managers, and engineers.

Reppen said the CSTRS Depot Team delivers an asset, which allows the warfighter to keep out of harm’s way in the complex nature of mine warfare mission sets.

“Traditional ways of searching and destroying mines include minesweepers and divers. While those options are very necessary, increasingly technology is enabling us to keep the warfighter out of the minefield,” said Reppen. “It saves our shipmates lives.  Most of our Depot personnel have served in the military. They know daily the importance of getting a quality product to the fleet.”

Resiliency is not new to the Depot team. After Hurricane Michael in 2018, no fewer than eight team members were displaced, but continued to deliver support to the fleet.

Reppen expressed the CSTRS Depot personnel’s resiliency through delivering products and capabilities, making repairs, and keeping up with emerging fleet needs under the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With the COVID-19 situation, the Depot order personal protective equipment in early February and began in earnest to prepare for max teleworking – long before the terms max-telework and social distancing were ever uttered.  The contractors set up their connection capabilities, the government personnel got their telework agreements in place.  The Depot manager set up a watch bill that would reduce the number of personnel at the Depot by alternating days,” said Reppen. “This was all in preparation to ensure we meet mission requirements.”

Reppen added that the CSTRS Depot’s commitment and determination to ensure warfighting dominance is motivational.

“A team like the CSTRS Depot is motivating – perpetually motivating one might say,” said Reppen. “This team motivates each other to do a great job by staying professional, by caring about the warfighter, and by caring about one another.”