NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD, Portsmouth, Va. –
Effectively managing the volume of work. Ensuring accountability with the project plan. Fixing or elevating any issues to support nonstop execution of work.
These are among the advantages of the Naval Sustainment Systems—Shipyard (NSS-SY) program, a partnership of on-site contractors specializing in business processes, and dedicated shipyard personnel, collaborating to bring innovation to the deckplates and remove any obstacles in work execution. USS Toledo (SSN 769) is now the next submarine overhaul at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) to implement NSS-SY improvements. Toledo has been undergoing an extensive Engineered Overhaul since arriving at NNSY in Jan. 2021. Leveraging NSS-SY initiatives comes at an important time as the project team shifted to the more extensive maintenance once the boat entered dry dock in May.
“Here at NNSY, we initiated NSS-SY on USS PASADENA (SSN 752),” said Shipyard Commander Captain Dianna Wolfson. “But NSS-SY isn’t limited to one project, or even one shipyard. It’s being leveraged across all our public shipyards to transform how we conduct maintenance and modernization on our aircraft carriers and submarines. NSS-SY improves work execution by streamlining processes, enhancing coordination between work groups and dismantling barriers. It directly supports our shipyard vision to deliver on time, every time, everywhere to protect America.”
Coordinating with NSS-SY representatives, Toledo project leadership has been establishing a facility to drive communications and issue resolution. Known as Operations Control Centers, these have been implemented on all NSS-SY pilot projects across the four shipyards. “When a problem occurs on the deckplate that can’t be quickly resolved, mechanics, supervisors and zone managers have a place to take their issues such that a team can get to work on it for them, ranging from material, paper, process, etc.,” said Wolfson. “This allows them to focus on their next assignment for that non-stop execution of work on the deckplates.”
The Toledo team has also been working to provide weekly forecasts of execution work, helping to work through any scheduling conflicts as they arise. Toledo has dedicated zone managers handling scheduling, while using another zone manager group for work execution on the deckplate. The two groups work in tandem, first with the schedulers establishing the plan, and the deckplate detail driving the jobs to completion. “The key is to set an executable schedule that will drive effectiveness of the whole production system,” said Toledo Project Superintendent Doug Poynter.
Key to effective scheduling is coordinating production shop support for the project. Improvements being worked in this area include a structured process to integrate welding into lead shop work, such as Outside Machine (Shop 38) or Pipefitter (Shop 56), with welding requests submitted 72 hours prior to execution. Production shops are also using crew boards to track jobs for Toledo. With clearly marked information such as job descriptions, locations, responsible persons and start and completion dates, these boards sequence significant shop jobs, ensuring ownership and visibility on any issues preventing timely accomplishment.
For NSS-SY to be successful, and NNSY to reach its vision of delivering on time, every time, Gulledge said it’s key to ensure a mindset across the shipyards that every shift, every job, every hour matters to enable boats like Toledo to meet their completion date commitments. “We have the plan, now how do we make it happen?” she said. “We must fix or elevate any issues as they arise. Is work progressing to plan, if not what’s needed to get there? It’s about owning and knowing what’s coming down the road, looking out for barriers and potential roadblocks, and removing them to support non-stop execution.”