MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. -- The Marine Corps Open Water Safety Craft is getting an overhaul this year, thanks to the Enterprise Life Cycle Maintenance Program. This is the first round of major maintenance for the OWSC, which has been in service since 2006, and is used as an emergency vessel during waterborne training operations.
ELMP is essential for equipment like the OWSC and will help extend the service life of the vessel, said Darin Simmons, an assistant product manager for logistics in MCSC’s Infantry Weapons Systems. There are only 28 safety boats in the Marine Corps inventory, and Marines do not have the resident expertise needed to conduct depot-level maintenance, he said.
The OWSC provides a safety platform to support small craft, dive and parachute training on or near water. The craft is a nontactical asset Marines use to transport casualties back to shore or to designated helicopter pads in case of a medical emergency in the water. It has communication and navigation systems to give its crew situational awareness, and the ability to respond to and aid disabled craft and personnel. After more than 10 years in operation, many of the vessels were in need of maintenance, and in some cases, a complete overhaul, Simmons said.
Marine Corps Systems Command works hand in hand with Marine Corps Logistics Command to conduct ELMP. MCSC personnel provide technical expertise and recommend which vessels should be repaired first, while LOGCOM provides the funding and works with the National Marine Center, or NMC, in St. Augustine, Florida, to complete the work.
“LOGCOM’s job is to determine long-term requirements align depot maintenance requirements with Marine Corps operational priorities, synchronize production schedules directly with Marine units and the overall execution of Operation and Maintenance funds,” said Walt Harris, Weapons System Support manager at Marine Corps Logistics Command.
“ELMP is a big win for the fleet, because Marines have struggled to maintain the boat on their own,” Harris added. “Having a depot-level maintenance strategy and giving them like-new assets back is only going to have a positive impact on operational readiness.”
A large part of ELMP is fixing things that are broken, such as the engine or power steering; however, there are many electronic items like the GPS and radars that require replacement. NMC takes care of those items as well.
“NMC is a government facility run by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, but the contractors there are very familiar with our boat,” said Jake Feeney, engineer for Small Craft and Dive Programs in IWS. “They’re a one-stop shop—they service the engines, the trailer and all the boat’s subsystems. They have electronics [technicians] and mechanics on staff; everything you can think of [to maintain] this boat.”
With this first round of overhauls, Marines can expect a few changes to the OWSC. Enhanced power steering capability will make the boat easier to drive and reduce the load on the engine; and a replacement navigation system will use state-of-the-art touchscreen technology instead of buttons and knobs, Feeney said.
Additionally, feedback from Marines indicated they did not use the air conditioner onboard, so that and the generator used to run it are being removed. Removing the AC and generator will result in a cost avoidance of more than $8,000 per vessel for replacement and/or maintenance, not including the costs associated with operating the units, Feeney said.
Prior to LOGCOM entering into a contract with NMC, MCSC funded a proof of concept to determine the cost and time it would take the organization to overhaul a single OWSC. MCSC sent the “worst case” boat to NMC to be refurbished, and it was completed within three months at a significant savings compared to the previous process of sending the boats to local marinas for repairs, Simmons said.
The command is using a phased approach for ELMP, timing the process so that boats in need of repair are sent to NMC at the same rate as refurbished boats are completed. Conducting ELMP in this manner helps minimize the impact on training.
“MCSC has sustainment responsibility [for the OWSC] from cradle to grave,” Simmons said. “We are expecting these boats to last us until 2036, and the ELMP is going to make sure we get there.”