An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : Media : News : Saved News Module
NEWS | June 23, 2021

Team Louisiana leads the way for NSS-SY efforts

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

Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility and the other three U.S. Navy shipyards are trying out Naval Sustainment System – Shipyard concepts on four pilot vessels, all of which are submarines.

According to Matt VanRavenhorst, NSS-SY champion for PSNS & IMF, the commander of Naval Sea Systems Command 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.

PSNS & IMF chose the USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) project to test NSS-SY sprints on. A sprint is a fast and focused effort to look at one process or part of a process to see where barriers can be removed or systems put in place to streamline the overall process.

According to Ken Rogers, project superintendent for the USS Louisiana Fiscal Year 2019 Engineered Refueling Overhaul, his project and team were up for the challenge of implementing NSS-SY concepts mid-project.

“Team Louisiana was selected to participate in the NSS-SY efforts 12 months into the ERO due to their tenacity, problem-solving approach and ERO experience,” Rogers said. “However, the first sprint started in January 2021, 16 months into the ERO."

Rogers said the project team and NSS-SY partners from around the command ramped up their efforts carefully to ensure integrating NSS-SY didn’t slow the project down.

“Initially, it was incumbent on the Louisiana project team to implement the sprints with a small NSS-SY team to monitor, measure, and communicate with NSS-SY teams working elsewhere throughout NAVSEA,” Rogers said. “With our most recent sprints, we have had a ton of support from our Code 900 teammates including many General Foremen. We also added a Deputy Project Superintendent to manage the Operations Control Center.”

Rogers’ team has been partnering with teammates at PSNS & IMF, as well as with the NSS-SY pilot project teams at the other public shipyards. These include the USS Virginia (SSN 774) Project Team at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine; the USS Mississippi (SSN 782) Project Team at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii; and the USS Pasadena (SSN 752) Project Team at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia.

Rogers and VanRavenhorst said NSS-SY Sprints use an accelerated Plan-Do-Check-Act process that process improvement professionals at PSNS &IMF are already familiar with.

“A sprint starts with a hypothesis on how to fix a problem or improve a process,” Rogers said. “A possible solution is determined and the project team quickly implements it on a small scale. We gather lessons learned—both positive and negative—and they either adjust and re-run, scale up, or cancel the sprint based on what the data tell them. This is done on a scale of days or weeks, instead of months or years.”

Even though the Louisiana Project Team has only been trying NSS-SY sprints for around six months, Rogers said some are demonstrating significant and quantifiable benefits to the project, while one other was terminated.

In April, NSS-SY champions and project leaders from the naval shipyards, decided to explore sprints related to Operations Control Centers, Start-of-Shift Communications, and Timekeeping.

According to VanRavenhorst, the timekeeping sprint brought in administrative support from outside the project to help first-line supervisors tackle admin tasks such as timekeeping, training and employee qualifications that take supervisors' focus away from the project. The Timekeeping sprint was terminated after data indicated it wasn’t creating the time savings they’d hoped it would.

However, other sprints have been successful. Rogers said an early sprint called a Test Sprint has worked out well.

“Early in our availability, Steve Brown, the Louisiana non-nuclear chief test engineer, gathered hull, mechanical and electrical testing lessons learned from other projects,” Rogers said. “Steve identified the need to identify work driving tests and suggested the project team make this a priority. We instituted weekly Test Daily Priority Lists to identify roadblocks to completing work supporting the HME Test Program.”

Rogers said one of the biggest lessons learned that has stayed true across all the NSS-SY testing efforts is that employee engagement and buy-in is crucial for NSS-SY to make a positive impact.

“We owe it to our teams to explain the ‘why’ before implementing any initiative,” Rogers said. “As we progress through the ‘do’ stage, we need to solicit honest and open feedback from the people implementing the initiative and really listen to what they are saying. When our workforce is engaged and willing to raise issues, they become world-class problem solvers. With them, we can accomplish anything.”