NEWS | June 8, 2021

Commands terminate NSS-SY sprint that wasn’t working as hoped

By Max Maxfield, PSNS & IMF Public Affairs Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility

Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility, along with the other three public shipyards, stopped exploring one of the efforts they were focused on as part of the Naval Sustainment System – Shipyard process transformation effort after data indicated it wasn’t creating the time savings they’d hoped it would.

In April, NSS-SY champions and project leaders from the Naval Shipyards, decided to move forward with three efforts – which they have termed “sprints” – focused on the production system used to carry out day-to-day operations on projects. The three sprints the commands decided to explore were Operations Control Centers, Start-of-Shift Communications, and Timekeeping. At PSNS & IMF, the sprints were implemented on the USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) project.

The timekeeping sprint brought in personnel support from outside the project to help first-line supervisors tackle administrative tasks such as timekeeping, training and employee qualifications that take supervisors' focus away from the project.

According to Matt VanRavenhorst, NSS-SY champion for PSNS & IMF, the fact that PSNS & IMF was able to embrace the NSS-SY model and quit something that isn’t working is a huge win, as it signals a true transformation in thinking for a slow-to-change organization as big and established as PSNS & IMF.

“This is a true victory because that has not always been our culture,” VanRavenhorst explained. “We sometimes keep things way too long, and we have lots of instructions that prove that. When something doesn’t seem to be working, we say, ‘we didn’t work long enough on it, so let’s keep going.’ Or, ‘we didn’t work hard enough on this and we have to double down our efforts and make it successful.’”

VanRavenhorst said pursuing things that aren’t working is the opposite of how NSS-SY is designed to work.

“The great thing about this whole program is that it is fast enough and nimble enough to explore our hypothesis and make decisions,” he said. “It gives us the ability to get real-time, quick responses to say either we’re onto something and we want to adjust and keep going, or this isn’t resulting in the thing we expected and it’s time to stop and go after something else.”

The four public shipyards will continue looking at how the Operations Control Center and Start-of-Shift sprints are working on the four “pilot” vessels determined by Naval Sea Systems Command.

NSS-SY concepts are being tried out on four pilot vessels, all of which are submarines. They are USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) at PSNS & IMF; USS Virginia (SSN 774) at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine; USS Mississippi (SSN 782) at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii; and USS Pasadena (SSN 752) at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, in Virginia.

As NAVSEA ramps up NSS-SY efforts across the shipyards, NAVSEA Commander Vice Adm. William Galinis and Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. William Lescher wanted to ensure the shipyards are getting an “apples-to-apples” comparison, said VanRavenhorst. That is why the pilot vessels are all submarines, versus trying NSS-SY sprints across a variety of vessels.

“Admiral Galinis wants to understand how all of our efforts are actually working in concert, and if it is making a difference to the throughput of those four ships,” VanRavenhorst said. “Standardization and consistency are something that he and the VCNO have been talking heavily about. They really want to have a consistent pilot program on consistent hulls so that we can have conversations about what is actually happening from one command to the other. That is one really big piece of this.”

NSS-SY champions and process transformation experts from the shipyards are going to Pearl Harbor Naval shipyard later this month to look at how information flows across a project throughout the day.

“We will look at how that information is flowing,” VanRavenhorst said. “Are the priorities getting from the managers to the supervisors? Is it getting to the ships? At the end of the day, are we having the feedback loop so that we understand what we did or did not get done so that swing shift can understand where they need to start and what they need to get done?”

Like the Portsmouth meeting in April, the shipyards will likely have some new sprints to try out after the meeting at Pearl Harbor. VanRavenhorst said that we are actively looking for what is standing in the way of the workforce, choosing solutions that have the highest likelihood of making a difference, and giving those a fair shot.

To learn more about what an NSS-SY sprint is and what three sprints were being pursued, read the previous NSS-SY article at https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Media/News/Article/2626318/.