Senior Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division (NSWC PHD) representatives recently returned from an overseas trip to Singapore, Japan, and Bahrain where they met directly with America’s surface fleet, seeking feedback to determine if the provided weapons system support and their respective maintenance models remain effective.
Customer input is sought with the intention of improving fleet readiness response for in-service maintenance, training, and product support processes serving a wide range of naval groups and functions, including ballistic missile defense, carrier strike groups, amphibious readiness groups, expeditionary strike groups, Chief of Naval Operations availability support, and forward deployed material.
“We as a command and business organization,” said Coralyn Akers, NSWC PHD fleet advocate, “are invested in providing the utmost care to our customers who happen to be the men and women serving this nation. It’s important to us that they receive the right support in order for them to be successful at all times. This tour is a great way for us to determine whether those needs are being met, and if they aren’t, identify how to ensure that they are.”
NSWC PHD first began conducting tours in 2008 with a single trip to Manama, Bahrain, followed in 2010 by a more robust survey that encompassed the current areas of responsibility. Since then, a tour has been conducted yearly to Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Fleets, yielding constructive feedback imperative to improving not only the command’s overall support to the Navy, but also the support provided from across the 10 Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) warfare centers.
Participants conducting the tours vary from year to year, depending on the area being visited and the needs of those areas. For the most recent trip, subject matter experts representing NSWC PHD traveled to Fifth and Seventh Fleets where they met with 21 different commands, participated in the Seventh Fleet Maintenance Summit, and met with the Fifth Fleet Science Advisor. Their efforts explored critical focus areas, including—but not limited to—the concept of mobile logistics and the ability to conduct independent equipment maintenance; planning for upcoming operational and maintenance needs for LCS deployments; and overall organizational and cultural changes being made as a result of recent ship collisions.
For NSWC PHD’s Chief Engineer, Capt. Michael Ladner, the more than fortnight journey marked his first customer-oriented trip since assuming his position on station. Although it proved to be somewhat lengthy, he found the time spent with the fleet to be priceless.
“The return on investment was huge to have met with all those people and get face-to-face time to hear issues directly in context with the situations they are experiencing rather than hear about them through email,” he said.
In addition, Ladner noted the importance of being able to ensure the constantly rotating cadre of military and civilian personnel overseas was armed with essential information to ensure their success.
“We provided reach-back support for combat systems, management systems and their elements, and then met with several ships to get their direct feedback on how well we are supporting them. We also asked if they were familiar with our support products and if they knew how to contact us, use our 24/7 chat support, knew about our cyber incident response team, the technical assists, expediting logistics—all those kinds of things.”
With each trip, significant items are unearthed, reinforcing the reason for continuing to conduct meetings. For example, the NSWC PHD team discovered one of the Navy’s amphibious transport ships was using a labor-intensive chain hoist to raise and lower the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) from deck to deck.
“After meeting with the crew and discovering the manually intensive process they were enduring with the RAM,” said Ladner, “we quickly fed that information back to the program office and they are already looking at replacing the physical hoist with an alternate one.”
Each visit comes with a string of success stories and action items that are not only communicated throughout NSWC PHD, but also across the NAVSEA enterprise. Heading into the New Year, Ladner and the rest of the team plan to once again journey outside the country to visit Sixth Fleet, continuing to engage the force, ensuring America’s Navy remains combat ready and effective.
NSWC PHD is a field activity of NAVSEA and provides the global United States Navy fleet with integration, test and evaluation, life-cycle logistics, and in-service engineering for today’s and future warfare systems. Located at Naval Base Ventura County, Calif., NSWC PHD employs more than 2,500 personnel.