080318-N-2735T-290Quoted are some of the relevant details of Captain John Cordle’s lessons learned report from the recent INSURV of USS San Jacinto (CG 56), as discussed in the news recently over at Navy Times. A lot of very good information here to learn from, indeed, I think an extended Q&A with Captain Cordle would reveal several inefficiencies that should be looked at for improvement. I read this report as the process a CO went through, including the hurdles, hoops, and much appreciated help to do what was required to “Get it done!” BZ Captain Cordle.

RMKS/1. THE BOARD OF INSPECTION AND SURVEY CONDUCTED A MATERIAL INSPECTION (MI) OF USS SAN JACINTO (CG 56) 3-7 AUG 2009. THE FOLLOWING OBSERVATIONS AND LESSONS LEARNED ARE PROVIDED.

2. OVERVIEW:
A. MINDSET.
THE PURPOSE OF THE MI IS TO DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT THE SHIP IS FIT FOR COMBAT OPERATIONS. WHILE IT IS A NECESSARY PREREQUISITE THAT MATERIAL DISCREPANCIES BE PROPERLY DOCUMENTED AND THE SHIPBOARD CHAIN OF COMMAND IS AWARE OF THEIR MISSION IMPACT, THE KNOWLEDGE THAT THE SHIP COULD ACCURATELY SELF-ASSESS IS NOW MERELY A FOOTNOTE. BOTTOM LINE: EQUIPMENT MUST WORK IN ORDER TO BE FOUND FIT FOR COMBAT OPERATIONS. SJA USED USS PINCKNEY’S EXCELLENT LESSONS LEARNED MESSAGE AS A STARTING POINT. RECOMMEND CLASSRONS USE THE PINCKNEY MESSAGE AS THE FOUNDATION FOR A PERMANENT INSURV BEST PRACTICES FILE.

B. LIAISON.
EARLY LIAISON AT ALL LEVELS WITH INSURV BOARD MEMBERS IS CRUCIAL. WHILE THEIR CHARTER IS TO INSPECT THE QUOTE AS FOUND UNQUOTE CONDITION OF THE SHIP THEY WANT THE SHIP TO SUCCEED. EARLY LIAISON WITH THE SENIOR INSPECTOR AND THE BOARD MEMBERS INSPECTING THE SHIP YIELDED SJA GREAT DIVIDENDS. RECOMMEND HOSTING THE QUOTE HERE WE COME UNQUOTE MEETING ON THE SHIP VICE AT INSURV BUILDING FOLLOWED BY A WALK AROUND THE SHIP. BOARD MEMBERS POINTED OUT NUMEROUS PITFALLS AND PROBLEM AREAS WHICH SJA WAS ABLE TO CORRECT PRIOR TO THE MI. EARLY COORDINATION WITH THE BOARD AND FEEDBACK FROM ISIC AND CGRON ALLOWED SJA TO REFINE THE MI TIMELINE ENSURING ALL INSPECTION CRITERIA WERE MET IN AN ORGANIZED MANNER. DESPITE STARTING WITH PREVIOUS UMI SOE AS A TEMPLATE, THIS WAS A HUGE ENDEAVOR WITH MANY ITERATIONS.

C. RESOURCES.
INSURV MI IS A TREMENDOUS CONSUMER OF MANPOWER, FUNDING, AND TIME. SJA INITIAL ASSESSMENT WAS THAT INSUFFICIENT MANPOWER, FUNDING AND UNDERWAY TIME WERE DEDICATED TO SJA IN ORDER TO SUCCESSFULLY PREPARE FOR THE MI. SPECIFICALLY, A SHORTFALL OF $1.5M, 30 PEOPLE, AND 6 U/W DAYS WAS IDENTIFIED AT D-90.

(1) ADDITIONAL MANPOWER WAS PROVIDED FROM A NUMBER OF SOURCES:
UNIT*******************RESOURCES PROVIDED
CCSG-12****************N4, ENCS, GSMC, BM1 – APPROX 90 DAYS
USS ENTERPRISE*********LT (30 DAYS), 3XBM2 APPROX 90 DAYS
USS LEYTE GULF*********BMC – APPROX 90 DAYS
USS MONTEREY***********GM1 – APPROX 60 DAYS
USS VELLA GULF*********TWO BM’S – APPROX 30 DAYS
USS RAMAGE*************EN3 – APPROX 30 DAYS
USS CARTER HALL********TWO GM’S – APPROX 30 DAYS*
USS NASSAU*************EN2 – APPROX 30 DAYS
USS ROOSEVELT**********EM1 – APPROX 30 DAYS
USS BULKELEY***********DC3 – APPROX 30 DAYS CGRON******************DCCS, GMCS, GSMC – APPROX 30 DAYS DDGRON*****************AVG 10 PERS/DAY + 1 GSMC FOR 90 DAYS
PCU GRAVELY************AVG 10 PERS/DAY FOR 90 DAYS
PCD JASON DUNHAM*******AVG 10 PERS/DAYS FOR TWO WEEKS
TPU NORFOLK************AVG 10 PERS/DAY FOR 90 DAYS
NAVY RESERVE***********26 SAILORS; 511 MAN DAYS

THE SIGNIFICANT LABOR POOL WHICH RALLIED IN SUPPORT OF SJA CONTRIBUTED GREATLY TO PREPARATIONS FOR THE MI. WITHOUT THIS ADDITIONAL MANPOWER SJA WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN READY FOR THE MI. ROUGHLY SPEAKING, A DAILY AVERAGE OF 30 EXTRA PERSONNEL WORKED ON SJA FOR THE LAST THREE MONTHS LEADING UP TO THE MI. (IT IS WORTH NOTING THAT CRUISERS WERE MANNED WITH APPROX 44 MORE SAILORS PRIOR TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF OPTIMAL MANNING.) FOR HER PART, SJA ADDED A 2 HOUR FOCUSED REPAIR PERIOD 1530-1730 AT I-90 AND WENT TO 3 SECTION DUTY AT I-30 IN A PHASED PLAN TO RAMP UP LEVEL OF EFFORT LEADING UP TO THE INSPECTION WITHOUT BREAKING THE CREW. SPECIFIC TRAINING SUCH AS ATFP/VBSS WAS HELD ON SATURDAYS BUT SHIPBOARD TACTICAL TRAINING WAS DEFERRED UNTIL AFTER THE INSURV, RESULTING IN A STEEP RAMP SOON AFTER THE INSPECTION TO C2X.

(2) ADDITIONAL EMRM AND OTHER FUNDING WAS PROVIDED BY CGRON AS REQUESTED. CGRON RESPONDED TO ALL REQUESTS FOR FUNDING AND EXPEDITIOUSLY ASSISTED SJA. LCDR TAMAYO N41, CGRON , DESERVES PRAISE FOR HER WORK IN MEETING THE FINANCIAL REQUIREMENTS. TOTAL ADDITIONAL RESOURCES REQUESTED DURING 90 DAY RUN-UP TO INSURV MI $973,000 EMRM AND $387,680 OTHER.

CM FUNDING WAS PROVIDED AS REQUESTED ALSO, BUT THE PROCESS NEEDS IMPROVEMENT. SHIPS MOVE INTO PRIORITY STATUS FOR CM FUNDING 90 DAYS PRIOR TO MI. THIS PRACTICE HAS RESULTED IN A FORM OF INSTITUTIONALIZED CRISIS MANAGEMENT. AN EXCEPTIONAL AMOUNT OF ENERGY HAD TO BE EXPENDED IN ORDER TO OVERCOME THE INERTIA OF A HUGE MAINTENANCE BACKLOG IN ONLY 90 DAYS SJA AUTHORED 149 INITIAL CASREPS FROM 31 MAR09 TO 05 AUG 09.

SJA ENTERED INSURV WITH 25 ACTIVE DEPARTURES FROM SPEC WITH AN AVERAGE AGE OF 90 DAYS. AVERAGE TIME TO CORRECT A C2 CASREP WAS 60 DAYS. AVERAGE TIME TO CORRECT A C3 CASREP WAS 30 DAYS WITH 6 OUTSTANDING AT MI. IN GENERAL ONLY CASREP’D ITEMS WERE FUNDED AND FIXED. BOTTOM LINE: THE MAINTENANCE COMMUNITY IS NOT CURRENTLY STRUCTURED AND THE BUSINESS PRACTICES DO NOT CURRENTLY SUPPORT THE LARGE VOLUME OF WORK WHICH INEVITABLY MUST TAKE PLACE TO PREPARE A SHIP FOR INSURV. THE CONSTRAINT OF A QUOTE 90 DAY INSURV WINDOW UNQUOTE FOR CM FUNDING REQUIRES ADDRESSING. IN THE END SJA RECEIVED A GREAT DEAL OF THE NECESSARY SUPPORT, BUT THIS REQUIRED CONSTANT ENGAGEMENT AT THE O-6 AND ABOVE LEVEL. SJA CO ATTENDED WEEKLY CRO AND MARMC MEETINGS FOR 90 DAYS PRIOR TO THE MI.

SJA HAD A CMAV DURING THE QUARTER PRIOR TO INSURV, AS WELL AS A C5RA AND SISCAL VISIT. IN ADDITION, NUMEROUS ICMP ASSESSMENTS WERE PULLED FORWARD AT SHIP’S REQUEST. UNFORTUNATELY, FUNDING RESTRICTIONS IN PLACE ALLOWED CM FUNDING TO BE PUT IN PLACE ONLY AT THE I-90 DAY POINT. AS A RESULT, OF THE 135 JOBS SUBMITTED BY THE SHIP FOR THE 9A2 AVAIL, NONE WERE PLANNED OR FUNDED ON DAY ONE OF THE AVAIL. MOST JOBS TOOK BETWEEN 30 AND 60 DAYS TO WORK THROUGH THE MSMO FUNDING AND PLANNING PROCESS. ONLY 35 JOBS WERE STARTED DURING THE AVAIL, THE REST WERE TURNED INTO CASREPS AND WORKED RIGHT UP UNTIL THE DAY BEFORE INSURV.

(3) FOLLOWING A PERSONAL REQUEST BY THE CO TO CRO, FOUR ADDITIONAL UNDERWAY DAYS WERE ALLOTTED TO SJA IN ORDER TO ALLOW SUFFICIENT REHEARSAL OF UNDERWAY DEMONSTRATIONS. THE VALUE OF THIS TIME AT SEA CANNOT BE OVERSTATED. THESE EXTRA DAYS ALLOWED SJA PERSONNEL TO CONDUCT AT SEA CHECKS AND MAKE SURE THAT THEY AND THEIR EQUIPMENT WERE READY. WITHOUT BEING GIVEN THIS ADDITIONAL PRACTICE TIME, SJA WOULD NOT HAVE SUCCESSFULLY PERFORMED THE UNDERWAY PORTION OF THE MI. THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR PERFORMING THE CHECKS AT SEA. ADDITIONAL UNDERWAY DAYS MUST BE BUDGETED FOR SHIPS TO GET UNDERWAY AND CONDUCT INSURV PREPS. SHIPS SHOULD NOT HAVE TO JUSTIFY THE NEED TO GET UNDERWAY TO PRACTICE FOR INSURV, THIS SHOULD BE A RECOGNIZED COST OF PREPARING A SHIP FOR THIS RIGOROUS INSPECTION AND RECEIVE C2F PRIORITY FOR SCHEDULING. UNDERWAY INSURV PREP DAYS SHOULD ALSO BE KEPT CLEAR OF OTHER TASKING (DLQ’S, ETC.) IN ORDER TO ALLOW THE SHIP TO FOCUS ON EXECUTING THE DEMONSTRATIONS.

I am going to use a football analogy. What we have is an example where the playbook was written before the season, but as the season went on, a bunch of players in the starting lineup were injured. The coach continues calling plays from the same playbook, having made no adjustments to the playbook to account for the different roster on the field, but expecting results as if the starting lineup was still in the game.

I see this lessons learned report as a recommendation to examine the playbook, because the playbook is not flexible enough to manage the conditions of a team with a different starting lineup. In general, I believe this analogy can be applied at a much broader level in the Navy, indeed all the military services.

In business, the fastest way to stifle creativity and innovation within an organization is for management to be inflexible when it comes to the playbook of processes that manage the daily routine of the business. Innovations only occur when leaders can write new plays for the playbook, or adapt when it is necessary to throw the playbook out. This involves a certain degree of risk, and creative, innovative businesses accept a certain degree of risk as part of developing talent internally.

As I read this report several questions come to my mind. It looks to me like the CO, officers, and crew of the USS San Jacinto (CG 56) were being asked to give 110% effort to “Get it done” for the MI, but the playbook does not ask the same of everyone else in the process. Read the section that I highlighted above in the report, and ask yourself: How much time was probably wasted by everybody because the playbook was inflexible to the needs and demands of the task at hand?

Whenever I see an inflexible playbook, I see a system that actively discourages innovation and creativity within an organization. The coach who calls the plays from the inflexible playbook is doing so because it is all the coach knows how to do, all the coach is allowed to do, or all the coach is willing to do due to risk factors (protecting ones career path by avoiding risk can be a major risk factor in the military). When any of the three exist an organization will waste time and resources. When all of the three exist, an organization is institutionally preventing creativity and innovation among its people.

On teams with rigid playbooks, the players are asked to give 110% effort, but the coach is just putting checks on the clipboard as the rigid set of plays are called, and this leaves an impression the coach is not giving the 110% they are asking for from the players. The pattern in business when this happens is that the talented employees leave to go work for other companies that do promote creativity and innovation. Organizations that know how to be dynamic and responsible with the playbook at the same time will be innovative and creative, and organizations that follow rigid playbooks stifle creativity and innovation. Sticking with the football analogy, I bet Captain Cordle and the SJA crew would have appreciated it had the coaches called a few audibles along the way during this INSURV, it would have probably saved time and allowed greater efficiency in use of resources. Flexibility typically has that kind of impact in business.




Posted by galrahn in Uncategorized


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  • Spade

    “SJA ENTERED INSURV WITH 25 ACTIVE DEPARTURES FROM SPEC WITH AN AVERAGE AGE OF 90 DAYS. AVERAGE TIME TO CORRECT A C2 CASREP WAS 60 DAYS. AVERAGE TIME TO CORRECT A C3 CASREP WAS 30 DAYS WITH 6 OUTSTANDING AT MI. IN GENERAL ONLY CASREP’D ITEMS WERE FUNDED AND FIXED. BOTTOM LINE:THE MAINTENANCE COMMUNITY IS NOT CURRENTLY STRUCTURED AND THE BUSINESS PRACTICES DO NOT CURRENTLY SUPPORT THE LARGE VOLUME OF WORK WHICH INEVITABLY MUST TAKE PLACE TO PREPARE A SHIP FOR INSURV.”

    Curiosity overwhelms me concering the state of maintenance outside that 90 day window. If there’s a large volume of work and people required to prepare the ship for INSURV, what does that say about capabilities before they started work?

    Granted, I’ve never been involved in such things ever, but when I read all of that (including the guys borrowed from other ships) it reads to me like “we don’t normally have the people or resources to be good to go all the time and only get it when its time for inspection”. Which would seem a lot like “studying just for the test”.

  • Chief Torpedoman

    Boy, does this CO really hit the nail on the head! I was on a Spruance class destroyer from 1986 to 1989 and when we were in port, I can’t tell you how many inspections/tech assists we had to prepare for and tolerate. Hardly a day went buy when some inspection team was not onboard for anything from the radar down to the CHT system.

    And Insurv is very inflexable from the gitgo! My guys found frayed and worn topedo lifting straps during a regular PMS inspection so we ordered and received new ones right before insurv. When we submitted work request to have them weight tested at SIMA it was turned down. Reason: we already had an availability scheduled with SIMA “after” the insurv. So now we take a “misson capable” hit because on another commands “inflexability”.

    Good post on this.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Spade:

    A little background for your interest.

    Insurv comes aboard and asks: Does it work, does it work in all modes, does it work to required specifications, is it safe to operate, is it being maintained so that it will work reliably?

    It then asks: is the ship aware of its own deficiencies, is the state of training such that it can know when a piece of equipment is “good to go”, or not fully mission capable and what the limitations are, or just plain out of commission.

    It does this (ideally) for EVERYTHING, totes up the list and compares what’s wrong with what the ship is required to be able to do (as specified in the Required Operational Capabilities and Projected Operating Environment Instruction). Writes the 8 pound report resulting.

    Since equipment failures are required to be reported to the chain of command via the CASREP (Casualty Report) system, nothing (in theory) should be Casrep’ed for INSURV. Casreps exist so the boss knows that USS Gefiltefish’s under ice sonar suite is broke, so he must send USS Podunk City instead to support ICEEX this year, because the upward looking ping flinger master control module is BB N35 EDD9364 (not in stock as verified by Supply System head shed, and the new one won’t arrive from the repair depot until after the Arctic winter starts). The Big Pork Chop in the Sky also uses them as a work list prioitization tool.

    Some of the ISIC’s (the unenlightened and ambitious ones) don’t like casreps, because a lot of them on all the ships in the squsdron might mean the ships are not being properly maintained.
    Such a thing could bar the road to a starry future. So submission (it is whispered) sometimes is discouraged.

    Higher up the tree, a consistent upward trend in casreps could be interpreted as a sign that closing all the waterfront SIMA’s and tenders, and cutting the manning isn’t working out as well as the manufacturers of dog and pony shows to keep the elephants happy have projected would occur.

    149 stinking “get ready for insurv” casreps damn well proves it, imao. But I digress.

    The really annoying thing about insurv is that like Tommy Lee Jones in “The Fugitive”, once on the case…they don’t care about innocence or guilt. Their boss is SECNAV, nice short chain of command, which makes them notoriously hard to lean on by 06 Commodores. And they have a list of common and repetitive deficiencies by type and class that goes back to DD1 and SS1 and LPH1, etc. They know where to go and what to look for. Hence they are high threat party poopers.

    What’s a ship CO to do? See Gahlran’s post, above. BZ, CO San Jacinto.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    Galrahn,

    I am having a really hard time following your football analogy. Do you think that the “first stingers” that are now injured are analogous to ship’s force manning, maintenance budgets, the TYCOM and CLASSRON personnel charged with the process of dividing up the budget, the shore maintenance infrastructure, all of the above, some of the above, or none of the above.

    It appears to me that the CO of the San Jacinto did in fact throw out the playbook in preparation for this INSURV, but I’m am relatively sure that the flexibility and innovation that his initiative shows is the real path to maintenance nirvana.

    What part of the surface ship maintenance play book do you think needs to be re-evaluated and be the subject of a more innovative approach.

    V/R,

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    It appears to me that the CO of the San Jacinto did in fact throw out the playbook in preparation for this INSURV, but I’m am relatively sure that the flexibility and innovation that his initiative shows is NOT the real path to maintenance nirvana.

    Correct wording in CAPS.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    “he who dares, wins”

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Interesting post and responses. Seems like “right-sizing” was simply a euphemism for cutting to reach a budget goal, and was hardly driven by mission efficiency. Stunning, I know. Another revelation that a complex mechanical system of systems would be labor-intensive even with operator-level maintenance requirements…

    BTW Grandpa, I looked up USS Goldfish. Not on the Navy List. Nor is Podunk City. ;)

  • Bill

    “Seems like “right-sizing” was simply a euphemism for cutting to reach a budget goal, and was hardly driven by mission efficiency.”

    I’m no bluewater guy..and do not claim to be. But having shipped out with the joint USN/USCG crew on Sea Fighter, I observed, first-hand, how quickly the experiment in ‘reduced manning and automation’ degraded quickly in to a very worn out and frustrated crew..and with morale in the toilet. That was supposed to be the training exercise and conops experiment for the future LCS…..nuff said.

    “The now-constant checking, re-checking, manual overrides, troubleshooting, testing, repair, and eyes-on 24/7 observation of our ship’s automated control systems will continue to increase in intensity until morale improves!”

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    URR:

    Tut, tut, my good URR. Merely attempting to avoid rumor mongering among the biggest gossips extant. You know, we few, we happy few, we scurvy band of naval insurrectionists.

    Or…

    If you have to ask, you aren’t allowed to know.

    Take your pick ;-)

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Grandpa,

    Can we coin the term “BLOGSEC”? We have “Burma Shave”, and SWMBO, one more couldn’t hurt.

    BLOGSEC: The practice of using fictitious names for USN vessels and units to avoid tipping America’s enemies as to potentially fatal bouts of stupidity within the USN and DoD.

  • BEYOND CONCERNED

    Yet another example of fleet service to the shore establishment. Or, put another way, think of this analogy: The Army Combat Brigade ensuring the Army civilian (underline civilian) and military establishment is meeting its needs for deployment preparation on a day-to-day basis.

    UNSAT that this Cruiser CO (and wardroom/ship’s company) had to do backflips to ensure success during such a seminal event as INSURV. WHERE IS THE NAVY? WHY ISN’T IT HELPING THE PROCESS? WHY does God have to intervene to make normal $hit work the way it’s supposed to?

    It’s the rare day I leave any trace of viewing a topic in the unofficial Navy blogosphere, but you can’t make this up.

    Combatants are at the tip of the spear (not a cliché in this case) but, as the years go by, are expected to do ever more with ever less. We are reaching–OR HAVE REACHED–a crisis in the Surface Navy. The Etnyre days must die today, and someone has to make that happen…piecemeal isn’t cutting it. When ADM Z turns to ADM X and tells him he’s concerned about the ability of ships to use their Pop-Tarts because they never toast them, that’s a systemic problem…give them more amps and ships will gladly toast Pop-Tarts all day long. CO’s will work their crews to the bone to do the right thing and get it done…even when it’s akin to adjusting the orbit of the moon…been there, got the T-shirt. That’s code, but you get the point…STOP BLAMING THE SHIPS FOR NAVY-WIDE ISSUES!

    And to Spade, who said he’s “never really done this sort of thing before” and it seems like they were “just studying for the test,” unless you’ve lived the dream of surviving through INSURV on a ship of the line–especially today–or have stage 1 colorectal cancer, you will not experience that level of probing EVER. This is a sad state of affairs we are in, and “hope” doesn’t seem to have pranced it’s way to the waterfront on a rainbow of goodness.

  • Ronbo

    BZ to the SJA crew and leadership!

    INSURV is a particularly onerous inspection that dings crews on problem areas that they can’t always correct and in some cases were shipyard issues 20 years previous. The overall decline in material readiness over the past decade directly manifests itself in the INSURV reports that have trickled out over the past few years. Why and how are we failing our blue water team? (1) Increase in underway days which beat our ships up more. (2) Inadequate repair funding. (3) Inadequate manpower. Not just the 40 + bodies mentioned by the CO but the fact that overall waterfront manning falls under 80% during the FRTP cycle. (4) The CO stated the case perfectly in regards to the maintenance community. The fact that only CASREP’s items were funded for repair is a joke. Let’s do what Coach Belichick did when asked whether his team’s injury report was accurate: he put everyone on the following week’s injury report. CASREPs for al1! (5) The lack of responsiveness from boards like INSURV, FEP, etc… to the facts that limited manpower limits capability. In the end, leadership is blamed for not getting more blood out of a stone. Our standards are high but our support for the standard bearers is not.

    It is frustrating from a tax payer perspective that $1.5 million was required to get the SJA up to shape. We burn more money painting the pig than actually trying to raise the pig properly. Imagine if repair work was properly funded 18 months prior?

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Logistics isn’t glam. Just essential. Life and death when “enemy in sight”, because nothing on a warship is unneeded when it goes into battle.

    Cut corners on maintenance, be it PM’s, or repairs, or critical skills manning(having one EM1 for all the electrical systems on the ship comes to mind), or funds for consumables, spares, repair parts, essential tools, or training for techs, and sooner rather than later systems start to fail.

    Intermediate maintenence activities are essential. Their closing is a critical assault on fleet readiness, and technician training and experience.

    Nothing that is not fully operational will get better if left alone. It only gets worse. And more dangerous. Nothing that is used gets better without care.

    Stray from the fundamentals and naval decline results.

    Third time around the wheel in a lifetime. Why do they never catch wise? History doesn’t end, and it doesn’t start fresh.

    Insurv is only slightly about one ship. Mostly it’s about the fleet. That hasn’t changed since the 1880′s.

    This too shall pass. Make it soon. Make it soon.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    Rondo is very close to the truth IMHO. I am not convinced it is entirely a funding problem, but that is certainly a major contributing factor. Higher OPTEMPO is also an important contributer.

    V/R,

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “Higher OPTEMPO is also an important contributor”

    Time to factor in what a Navy of 350-400 vessels might do for that problem, instead of the 283 we currently have.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    To get to a 350 ship Navy in any kind of a reasonable time period requires a new build rate of between 14-16 ships per year. Time to factor in if that is even remotely affordable.

    V/R,

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    It’s affordable, if naval readiness is a priority.

    If social welfare programs are the be all and end all, little else will be affordable.

    You can’t do more with less. You only can do less with less. If you have less, you have to prioritize. Which means you have to decide what is important.

    If the boss can’t convince the big boss that what you do is important, you will never see another nickel. If the big boss doesn’t know what you do, and is biased to be disinterested in the entire idea behind your reason for existence, you will lose budget share.

    So you have to sell it. This very hard to do to politicians on the basis of merit or non immediate (as in more than two days post catastrophic explosion) danger. You have to package it as relectability, or increased money, perks, and power. No one ever went very wrong by overestimating the venality of an ambitious politician.

    The first step is clear enough. Pucker up buttercup.

  • Scott B.

    Bill said : “I’m no bluewater guy..and do not claim to be. But having shipped out with the joint USN/USCG crew on Sea Fighter, I observed, first-hand, how quickly the experiment in ‘reduced manning and automation’ degraded quickly in to a very worn out and frustrated crew..and with morale in the toilet. That was supposed to be the training exercise and conops experiment for the future LCS…..nuff said.”

    Obviously, you didn’t get the COMNABSURFOR 2007 memo with the Cardinal Rules for LCS :

    Cardinal Rule #3 : Do not try to compare LCS to legacy platforms. It cannot be manned, trained, equipped, maintained or tactically employed in the same way. No old think.

  • Scott B.

    Some of the not-so-young bluewater guys might remember the devastating consequences of the *optimal manning* approach adopted when the Sprucans were introduced in the Fleet.

    Those who don’t remember, or are too young to have been there, do that, might want to take a look at the book CAPT Michael C. Potter wrote on the Sprucans, Electronic Greyhounds.

    Since the book has been out of print for some time now (another reprint idea for the USNI folks), allow me to make some brief quotes from the Potter’s book (pp. 108-109) :

    “When the Spruance class entered service in 1975, the predicted crew size, whether based on design-work study or otherwise, quickly proved inadequate. As designed, or more accurately as purchased, a DD-963 destroyer rated a crew of 224 enlisted men and 19 officers.

    (…)

    Crews were worked hard in every job. Stress soon showed. In 1977 a tired gunner’s mate tried a shortcut to fix a 5-inch mount during a firing exercise. This worked, and the cradle instantly swung the next round toward the breech. It caught him and fatally injured him. Later, two sailors got into a savage argument in their berthing compartment. One, a Filipino cook, fatally stabbed the other with a knife from the galley. It was the first murder aboard a Navy ship in years but was kept quiet, probably because of the racial overtones.

    (…)

    By 1980, the enlisted crew allowance had soared to 297, and that did not include the helicopter detachment. All warships designed during that era required larger crews in practice than as designed, but the increase for the Spruance class was the largest, over 30 percent.”

    Old Think ? Nope, simply lessons learned again and again, often the hard way !

  • Scott B.

    This passage from John Cordle’s lessons learned report is very interesting :

    “THE MAINTENANCE COMMUNITY IS NOT CURRENTLY STRUCTURED AND THE BUSINESS PRACTICES DO NOT CURRENTLY SUPPORT THE LARGE VOLUME OF WORK WHICH INEVITABLY MUST TAKE PLACE TO PREPARE A SHIP FOR INSURV.”

    It’s interesting in the context of another cardinal rule for LCS (COMNAVSURFOR 2007 memo) :

    “Cardinal rule #9 : Shipboard logistics and maintenance efforts must be focused on achieving operational agility. Processes that are focused on sustainability should be accomplished either ashore or at the sea base.”

    If the maintenance community can’t cope with the volume of work needed to prepare a ship for INSURV, how will they ever be able to cope with the logistics and maintenance required to ensure sustainability of the LCS ?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Cardinal Rule #9 is perhaps the stupidest thing I ever heard.
    But Cardinal Rule #3 is a close second.

    That “old think” did win us World War II. But we shouldn’t use such a small sample of experience to learn fundamentals….

  • Scott B.

    Walthrop said : “Higher OPTEMPO is also an important contributer.”

    1) Systematic (or systemic in the case of LCS) undermanning and higher OPTEMPO is NOT compatible with extended service life for the ships.

    2) Under the current funding, extended service life is required to maintain the size of the fleet. IOW, without extended service life, the fleet will continue to shrink.

    3) A shrinking fleet will in turn produce higher OPTEMPO (unless commitments are reduced), meaning that both ships and men will wear faster.

    4) Go back to step 1) above and repeat another iteration.

  • Scott B.

    UltimaRatioReg said: “Cardinal Rule #9 is perhaps the stupidest thing I ever heard. But Cardinal Rule #3 is a close second.”

    URR, you will LOVE Cardinal Rule #10 then :

    Cardinal Rule #10 : Attack all LCS issues with the speed of heat. It will be here quickly. Be ready.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Scott B.,

    Super. And fifty-five of these things? Great.

  • Scott B.

    URR said : “And fifty-five of these things? Great.”

    Well, maybe more than 55.

    The author of the lines below is Robert Work, the current Under SECNAV, in this February 2009 report :

    Page XV : “Ramp up production to a maximum of four new Littoral Combat Ships (LCSs) per year and sustain that rate even after reaching the 55-ship TFBN target.”

  • wtdoor

    “That ‘old think’ did win us World War II.”

    Good point. I’ll let the re-enactors know.

  • sid

    1) Systematic (or systemic in the case of LCS) undermanning and higher OPTEMPO is NOT compatible with extended service life for the ships.

    I’m sure all the “lighter and alternative materials” in construction ordained by the useless “Need for Speed”, combined with the inevitable neglect and abuse that is inherent with forward deployment does not bode well either…

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “I’ll let the re-enactors know.”

    True. Just because it was repeatedly proven, common-sense, successful, and fundamentally sound is no reason to adhere to it now….

  • CDR G

    INSURV should be no-notice. What kind of accurate picture of fleet readiness do you get when you can call in hundreds of visiting strap-hangers, etc, to get ready? Is that how you’re going to do it on “The Day?”

    I’ve done more than one of these and they stink, but they are needed. They are needed for real information, however, and not the pretty picture they get under that current method.

  • swogo

    This is another example in a steadily expanding list of a system that is tremendously broken right now. The ‘unnamed cruiser commander’ cited by Navy Times is dead-on. Last year, the ENTIRE MAINTENANCE BUDGET for a CG was 1.2 million; if San Jac needed 1.5 million just to correct CASREPs for INSURV, that tells you a LOT about the processes right now.

    I don’t think it will surprise anyone, but that 1.2 million number has now gone further down. At some point the disparities between requirements, capabilities, and funding has to fall on someone other than the ship….right?

  • SwitchBlade

    A little amplification of Grandpa Bluewater’s post of October 8th, 2009 at 11:45 am.

    INSURV is an inspection mandated by CONGRESS to inform CONGRESS of the state of the fleet. This leads to two things.

    1. The relatively junior officers (Commanding Officers, Squadron Commodores, Group and Fleet Admirals etc.) want to look good – therefore “the ship must “pass.”" Which leads to:

    2. The Supply system, same Group and Fleet Admirals to include Unified Commanders and the CNO, SecNav, SecDef, and CONGRESS have a distorted and inaccurate picture of the true status of the material condition of the fleet. Which leads to:

    Minimum Manning (by any and all iterations of the term), underfunding maintenance, underfunding all logistics -from support units to parts, lack of documentation for testimony that identifies these problems, AND (last but not least) THE LCS.

    As stated in a previous post; an INSURV inspection should be a “NO NOTICE” inspection. This should be done as a walk aboard, Monday morning, prior at the beginning of a week of an underway time that is already in the schedule. Monday underway is postponed to Tuesday. Necessary services should be arranged by the INSURV BOARD staff for an unspecified ship at time and area necessary. Most underway services required for tracking etc. are civilian anyway and therefore would not be easily identified as an INSURV service to give a ship/Command the advance notice. Any notice that would be gleaned would likely be to short to be of any use to preparing for the test.

    This would give a true picture of the status of the fleet. Imagine the shock of Congress and the public after a year of no-notice INSURV inspections! I suspect the public outcry would have the maintenance and logistics money flowing faster than the accountants could designate it to correct a deficiency.

    But, the real mindset is to keep doing more with less and cover up the problems. After all, if the current person in the billet can keep it going just until they transfer – the system might fail on someone else’s watch. How fun is that!

  • pk

    in a meeting many years ago (civilian type) i heard a young fellow put forth the following

    “sir, we are bound by law and duty to follow your orders. if we recieve orders that allow us a certain amount of flexibility to do our work with style and grace we will probably thunder along in our usual fashion expending a lot of energy and sweat in our accomplishments. if we see an opportuntiy to really cover ourselves with glory we can at least try. maybe to succeed maybe not.

    but if we get orders to be stupid then we have no option but to be stupid.”

    sounds like the canoe club is issuiing the latter and not from the guys afloat.

    C

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Switchblade:

    10-4 Good buddy.

    The only grades for an insurv is “fit for further service” or “no longer fit for further service”. The rest is just a list of deficiencies noted in order of importance, subdivided into important (major mission degrading, major safety), worth worrying about (minor ditto, minor ditto) or just needs fixing so put it on the work list (where it already is, but gets moved up).

    A goodly part of the minor deficiency list creeps in with age and obsolecence, normal wear and tear and bush league material mismanagement. A shipalt isn’t funded for installation this shipyard, which would have corrected an inability to deal fully with a new threat, because it’s an older ship (as in over 15 years old in some historic cases)and “not worth the money”.

    In some (historic) cases the shipalt kit sat in a warehouse for 15 years because the repair officer(s), squeezed for bucks by a land war somewhere, doesn’t/don’t have enough funds to cover the man hours for installation, and doesn’t realize the shipalt kit sits ’til the next overhaul and the next and the….

    The work could be done by sailors (custom bracket welding, drilling holes with a template and two 5 wire cable runs of less than 15 feet)… but it’s not called as ship force or IMA (before we did ‘em in) work so it “can’t be done”.

    Then some OCS JG, who spent summers on the farm with his grandfather and doesn’t know that thinking must be done in boxes, gets on the phone, exceeds his authority a bit, gets his hands on the kit by hook or crook and guess what… no insurv deficiency (not that he knows what that is).

    Nowadays the kid will be on the carpet for going out of channels.
    And he will never do that again, no sir, not for the remaining two years, 3 mos and 6 days he’ll be in the Navy, if they kicked him in the butt hard enough, and the grit that kept the farm in the family through the thirties still breeds true.

    Meanwhile an excess of flag officers keeps an excess of staff officers busy on correspondence between flag officers, rather than fully manning ships, and staff officers ARE NOT tasked by flag officers to talk daily to the ship officers about ways to enable the ship officers to take better care of their ships.

    We rode this sort of thing -as a syndrome- down, almost into the dirt, from angels 50, in the 70′s, We might get a big smoking hole in the golf course grass this time. Metaphorically speaking.

    Nothing new under the sun.

    Correctly read (en bloc), insurv’s put Admirals on report, not crews. SINCE the 1880′s!

  • CDR G

    Amen, Switchblade, amen.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Switchblade,

    I am afraid in the current climate the reaction would be “We can’t afford a Navy!” and we would see surface units decommissioned like it was 1946.

    Maybe I am wrong, but I doubt it.

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