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NEWS | Sept. 29, 2022

NSS-SY Spotlight: Fleet Ops Pillar

By Aime Lykins, PSNS & IMF Public Affairs Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility

Supporting the U.S. Navy’s fleet and uniformed service members is foundational to shipboard work performed at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility. Each morning at precisely 8 a.m., as the national anthem washes across the shipyard, Sailors and shipyard employees stand at attention aboard docked vessels and outside work centers. It is a clear reminder that fleet operations and supporting Sailors is of the utmost importance as they prepare to return to sea and defend the nation. The Naval Sustainment System-Shipyards (NSS-SY) Fleet Operations Pillar was stood up for improved coordination between fleet and shipyard, focused on project and ship’s force integration, specifically during the end game.

The end game is when ship’s force and shipyard integration is most critical to preventing availability delays, shared Brennan Harn, assistant chief test engineer, Code 2340. The end game refers to the period when the driving factor for an availability’s critical path shifts from the ability to execute production work to the ability to execute and sequence tests, restore systems, execute inspections, and certify to operate onboard systems in preparation for sea trials.

“Part of the value of the Fleet Operations Pillar is that it allows the fleet and shipyard to work on issues before they are red hot,” said Capt. Donald Tenney, Submarine Forces Pacific representative to PSNS & IMF. “Before the standup of NSS-SY and the Fleet Ops Pillar, much of the teaming between the fleet and the shipyard occurred in dealing with urgent issues."

One current focal point for the Fleet Ops Pillar is the End Game Assessment. This process is used to assess readiness, identify, evaluate and reduce risk to the end game in a structured and consistent approach across the fleet. It is conducted between two to four months prior to the scheduled undocking to allow for necessary mitigations prior to the end game.

“The partnering, planning and tracking are all in an effort to make the team better prepared to tackle the end game, and identify where acceptable risks are being taken,” said Harn. “The goal is for there to be less churn on the deck plates, less unknowns and more predictability.”

According to Harn, the real impact of the Fleet Ops Pillar efforts will be seen when the overall integrated plan comes together successfully with ships returning to the fleet on time, every time.

Corporate fleet pillar actions have been taken to drive stronger adherence to joint project planning milestones. Strengthened teamwork between the fleet and the shipyard will improve work identification ahead of the availability to better support planning and scheduling critical aspects of the availability.

Additionally, the Fleet Ops Pillar drives financial transparency and collaboration into shipyard availability planning and execution to better understand, in real time, where financial risks are being taken.

Recent wins for the Fleet Ops Pillar include working with ship’s force to complete an aligned takedown strategy one week ahead of schedule for USS Ohio (SSN 726), and coordination with ship and squadron crews to improve manpower capability through early portions of Ohio’s availability. Ohio is in the midst of a 21.5-month major modernization period.

Connecting ship’s force and shipyard personnel to collaboratively complete maintenance evolutions translates into knowledge sharing through high velocity learning, and meeting project milestones on time or ahead of schedule.

“The Fleet Ops Pillar has established a formal venue for coordination on some of the higher-level challenges in a time frame that allows identifying and implementing solutions thoughtfully, without the pressure of already being behind schedule,” said Tenney.