NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD, Portsmouth, Va. –
In an effort to better inform employees about the importance of the Naval Sustainment System—Shipyards (NSS-SY) effort, Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) began holding workforce meetings across its various departments Jan. 24.
These meetings provide a presentation detailing why NSS-SY is different from previous initiatives to improve shipyard performance, including a video featuring feedback from employees who are seeing the transformation firsthand.
Since NSS-SY began a year ago, the Navy’s four public shipyards are revolutionizing how they support the personnel who conduct maintenance on submarines and aircraft carriers to improve on-time delivery back to the Fleet. NSS-SY uses successful concepts that benefitted naval aviation, with Naval Sustainment Systems overseeing an 80 percent mission capability improvement for F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers.
With a focus on action and a sense of urgency, NSS-SY aims to ensure the production workforce has the tools, equipment, material, and information needed to execute jobs in the most efficient manner possible while identifying and removing barriers that delay work. At NNSY, NSS-SY was first implemented on USS Pasadena (SSN 752) and has since been implemented on USS Toledo (SSN 769) USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), and inside production shops supporting these availabilities.
To gauge progress on NSS-SY efforts and awareness, a “Ready-Willing-Able” survey was deployed to all shipyards in late 2021, with feedback expressing concerns about the shipyards’ ability to change, a lack of urgency and uncertainty about leadership support.
“This feedback is helping to drive the discussions we’re having today and into the future,” said Shipyard Commander Captain Dianna Wolfson in a Jan. 21 workforce message. “And why is it different this time, you might be asking? With tremendous support of the most senior Navy leadership, we will see that this is different from previous efforts. Our own employees involved in NSS-SY have seen the changes, and are embracing them. Last week we released an America’s Shipyard video where our Hydraulics Shop team members talk about how NSS-SY initiatives are bringing helpful change like they have never seen. We’ll be sharing more employee perspectives like that with you. Because I don’t want you to take my word for it; listen to our own teammates about how this is helping us reach the goal line.”
Denver Alvis, a Code 930 Marine Machinery Mechanic who worked on Pasadena, said the project establishing an Operations Control Center (OCC) served as a hub for fixing or elevating any issues preventing job completion. “The OCC helped streamline problem solving for the mechanic, so you can go straight to the OCC, tell them exactly what you have going on, discuss solutions and return to work with minimal down time. I feel that’s what really made the OCC work perfectly for the project.”
Additionally, NNSY’s shops have implemented Production Control Centers (PCC) to facilitate communications and resolve problems for jobs supporting availabilities. “The PCC is a great way to bring together folks that may be across organizational boundaries into the same spot to discuss any issues, taking us away from what we can’t do and turning it into what we can do,” said Eric Chops Clarke, Code 930 Inside Machine Shop Manager.
To effectively drive the transformation, Wolfson encouraged the workforce to “engage in some self-reflection through the lens of readiness, willingness, and ability. When you’re ready, you understand the change, how it affects you and why it’s important for our organization. When you’re willing, you believe the change will be beneficial to our organization and want to make a meaningful contribution. And when you’re able, you have the tools, skills and support necessary to personally bring change.”
She added, “We know change can be difficult, especially in a process-driven and requirement-based business. And I’ve learned that it’s completely okay to be uncomfortable at times, because that is when our biggest learning and growth happens. Given the threats we’re facing now with adversaries such as Russia and China, combined with the amount of time our ships are spending in the shipyards, we also know maintaining status quo is a losing proposition. So when asked to do something different, we must be poised and ready for change and give it our best effort.”
In a filmed message for the NNSY workforce about the importance of the NSS-SY initiative, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Bill Lescher said, “Our carriers and submarines are the Navy’s most lethal and survivable assets. Our warfighters are counting on each of us to return these ships to sea in the proper condition and on-time so that they can defend the Nation and our way of life, in this new military competition. Our shipyards today are without question the most consequential driver of Navy readiness and lethality. The Navy is only as strong as our shipyards and the personal commitment of every one of us to improve, to think, act and operate differently, and to learn. Thank you to your personal dedication to keeping our Navy, our Sailors and our Nation the best in the world.”