To achieve a more responsive and more readily deployable fleet of surface combatants, the Navy adopted the Fleet Response Plan (FRP) in 2003 to replace its traditional two-year ship maintenance cycle. The authors of this report look at the effects the FRP has had thus far and determine whether maintenance resources are meeting maintenance demands and whether related industry resources have been coordinated effectively.
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Impacts of the Fleet Response Plan on Surface Combatant Maintenance
By Roland J. Yardley Raj Raman Jessie Riposo James Chiesa John F. Schank
Rand CorporationCopyright © 2006 RAND Corporation
All right reserved.
Problem, Objective, and Approach
In recent decades, the Navy has maintained a continuous or near-continuous forward deployed presence in three major overseas operation areas: the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf region, and the Western Pacific. The Navy's primary means of maintaining this presence has been through standard six-month rotational deployments, in which surface combatants (cruisers, destroyers, and frigates) as part of either a Carrier Strike Group (CSG) or other operational group would transit from home port to a forward area, operate in that area for a period of months, be relieved by the next CSG sent to that area, and finally return to home port.
When ships are not deployed, the ship and crew are employed in training and/or maintenance. The entire cycle of training, formerly referred to as the Inter-Deployment Training Cycle (IDTC), includes a post-deployment stand-down period (for crew leave); a maintenance period; basic, intermediate, and advanced training; and a six-month deployment. This cycle has traditionally run 24 months and was established to meet the requirements of the Global Naval Force Presence Policy (GNFPP) and personnel recruiting and retention goals.
The IDTC satisfied the many personnel, presence, maintenance, andmission requirements of the Cold War era, but recently, new global threats have challenged traditional methods of operation. Under the six-month rotation approach, a large number of ships are either in training or in maintenance and are not easily or quickly deployable. Under traditional deployments in the Navy, approximately 35 percent of ships and 10 percent of active-duty personnel are deployed at any given time.
When Operation Iraqi Freedom began, a large Amphibious Task Force and six CSGs were sent to the Persian Gulf, and another aircraft carrier was sent to Japan to fill the role vacated by the USS Kitty Hawk. The IDTC was greatly disrupted because of the speed and number of assets deployed-that is, some carriers were deployed sooner than expected, while others were deployed for longer than the traditional six months. As a result, maintenance schedules were disrupted, funding was transferred to other assets or locations where more maintenance was required (and where funding was surrendered and maintenance was deferred), and training was accelerated or missed. Because of the difficulties encountered, the Navy intensified efforts that began in the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) to increase the availability of the fleet and to develop an IDTC that would support this increase.
In May 2003, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) released a message to the Navy that instructed the Commander, Fleet Forces Command (CFFC) to make the necessary adjustments to the IDTC to achieve the capability to deploy ready assets on short notice. As a result, the Inter-Deployment Readiness Cycle (IDRC) was institutionalized to meet this objective. The IDRC provides for more-flexible maintenance scheduling while mandating earlier surge readiness.
The IDRC is a key element of the Fleet Response Plan (FRP). The FRP, undertaken to achieve a more responsive and more readily deployable fleet, institutionalizes a new readiness approach intended to allow the Navy to deploy many assets quickly. Under the FRP, non-deployed units are required to achieve and maintain a high level of readiness so that they can deploy on short notice. The goal of the FRP is to achieve a readiness level that will allow six CSGs to deploy within 30 days and two more within 90 days. One of the primary challenges in implementing the FRP is the establishment of processes and procedures, as well as a ready industrial base, to facilitate maintenance planning and execution to meet FRP surge requirements and maintenance demands, whose timing is no longer as predictable.
To help meet this challenge, the RAND National Defense Research Institute (NDRI) undertook to characterize the implications of the FRP for maintenance needs and to identify the range of maintenance resources that could be brought to bear. The NDRI research team also undertook to quantitatively measure the impact of FRP on maintenance provision.
To limit the scope of the analysis, we concentrated throughout on the DDG-51 class of destroyers. We chose the DDG-51 class for two principal reasons:
It is the largest single class of surface combatants and will probably remain so for the next two decades.
To date, there has been little modernization to commissioned ships of this class that could skew (or contaminate) maintenance data.
The DDG-51 class, like the majority of nonnuclear naval ships, has its depot maintenance provided primarily by private shipyards. Limiting our analysis to this class may not fully identify the challenges faced by the public shipyards.
As part of our study, we interviewed fleet maintenance and scheduling authorities at the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) 04 and NAVSEA 04RM in Washington, D.C.; CFFC N43, Commander, Naval Surface Forces Atlantic (CNSL) N3 and N43, and the Regional Maintenance Center (RMC) in Norfolk, Virginia; and the Commander, Naval Surface Forces Pacific (CNSP) N3/5, N43, and N6, and RMC in San Diego, California. Additionally, we met with Maintenance Resource System (MRS) officials who develop maintenance budgets for surface combatants, and we evaluated readiness and cost data to aid us in determining the impact of the FRP on maintenance.
We present our principal findings in Chapter Three, which focuses on the implications of the FRP for maintenance. It provides a qualitative discussion of the maintenance challenges and how they are being addressed. This discussion is preceded in Chapter Two by background information in the form of questions and answers on the different aspects of maintenance for surface combatants, with a focus on DDG-51 class ships. In Chapter Four, we describe our attempt to analyze DDG-51 class readiness and cost data to assess the effects of the FRP's implementation. In Chapter Five, we present our conclusions.
Before proceeding further, it is important to understand that the FRP has been implemented in the midst of changes in the demands for and maintenance of ships as well as the methods in which maintenance is being supplied to surface combatants. Ideally, we would assess the impact of the FRP on prevailing maintenance patterns in an environment in which the FRP was the only important change under way. Because that is not the case, the most valuable findings we can reach are qualitative in nature. We did perform a broad look at maintenance patterns, for both pre- and post-FRP, by evaluating dollars allotted to depot-level maintenance. We also included a review of equipment casualty reports (CASREPs), the average age of the DDG-51 class ships, and steaming hours to evaluate changes before and after the implementation of the FRP. The discussion of ongoing changes in maintenance supply and demand is an integral part of our analysis, one that we address in Chapter Three. Here, we briefly discuss two other ongoing activities that influence the interactions between the FRP and maintenance supply and demand.
Post-9/11 Deployments, Including Operation Iraqi Freedom
Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S. military has continuously operated on a wartime footing, a condition that will likely persist into the foreseeable future. The Navy, like its sister services, has conducted operations at a tempo that has greatly exceeded those tempos experienced prior to 9/11. Operation Iraqi Freedom featured the largest naval deployment in recent history, with more than 70 percent of U.S. surface ships and 50 percent of U.S. submarines underway, including seven CSGs, three amphibious readiness groups, two amphibious task forces, and more than 77,000 sailors participating. Some ships, such as the USS Abraham Lincoln, were deployed for ten months-the longest deployments since the Vietnam War.
With such a large proportion of the force deployed, the need for operationally available ships, and hence the readiness rates required, has increased dramatically. This increase has presumably altered the demand for ship maintenance. Compared with peacetime operations, wartime deployments could reduce the performance of maintenance on the ships involved while having the potential to increase demands when they return home.
Sea Swap Experiments
The U.S. Navy is engaged in an experimental program that changes the way in which officers and crews are deployed aboard combatants. The traditional method is one in which a ship and its crew depart from home port, make port visits en route to the operational area, stay on station in the operational area, depart the operational area when relieved by another unit, and make port visits en route in the return to home port. In the Sea Swap program, the Navy is experimenting with keeping ships on station and rotating crews to the ships that are forward deployed. Such an experiment has been ongoing since August 2002 on destroyers.
While Sea Swap maximizes the operational availability of ships, it also affects the timing of maintenance and potentially the amount required over the long run (as in the case of longer deployments for combat). This may alter prioritizations in the planning, scheduling, and execution of maintenance activities conducted on these ships before deployment, while on station, and after returning to home port.
The Sea Swap program can be viewed as an enabler for the Fleet Modernization Program (FMP). While some ships are being maintained on station for greater periods through Sea Swap, those ships left behind can be modernized and maintained on more flexible schedules.
Chapter TwoUnderstanding the Different Aspects of Maintenance
This chapter provides background information on the different aspects of maintenance related to surface combatants, with a focus on DDG-51 class ships. More specifically, it addresses the following questions:
What are the different types of maintenance?
What is the Navy's approach to maintenance?
By whom is maintenance performed?
How is maintenance accomplished during deployment?
How are maintenance plans developed?
What are depot-level maintenance availabilities?
How is the surface maintenance budget developed?
What Are the Different Types of Maintenance?
There are three basic types of actions performed during industrial availabilities: preventive or planned/scheduled maintenance, corrective or unscheduled maintenance, and modernization. Preventive maintenance attempts to prevent failure; corrective maintenance restores a system after failure; and modernization improves system capability, reliability, or safety.
Preventive maintenance is performed periodically based on the run time of a system or its components as envisioned by the designer. These are planned or scheduled activities with the goal of minimizing system and component degradation, thereby sustaining or extending the useful life of the equipment. Such a practice is meant to increase the reliability of a ship's components and equipment and is more economically attractive than corrective maintenance, which is reactive in nature. Examples of preventive maintenance include changing oil and the filters of a circulation system after a specified run time and taking corrosion control measures (e.g., periodically applying corrosion resistant paint on a ship's hull to prevent rust formation).
Corrective maintenance is performed on systems and equipment that are inoperative or operating in a degraded condition. These corrective measures are generally unanticipated and therefore unscheduled. The decision to take a corrective maintenance action depends primarily on whether the degraded equipment is critical to performing the current mission or future missions. When an equipment casualty affecting a ship's primary mission area exceeds the ship's repair capability, a CASREP is submitted, which alerts the appropriate shore facilities that parts or technical assistance is needed.
The FMP is a CNO-managed program that develops, plans, funds, and accomplishes ship alterations, machinery alterations, ordnance alterations, and electronic field changes (Naval Sea Systems Command, 2002). The FMP mission is to provide operational and technical modifications to "keep the war-fighting edge, fix systemic and safety problems, improve Battle-Force Interoperability, improve platform reliability and maintainability, or reduce the burden on the sailor." There are two types of ship improvements:
A military improvement that results in a change of operational or military characteristics, qualities, or features, and increases the ability of the ship to perform its required operational capacities.
A technical improvement that results in a change to improve the safety of personnel and equipment and/or provides increased reliability, maintainability, and efficiency of installed equipment.
These modernization actions are scheduled, planned, and normally accomplished during a scheduled CNO availability and must be completed within three years. Midlife upgrades for the DDG-51 class may take 30 to 40 weeks. This may be challenging to allocate across CNO availabilities, which are normally nine weeks in duration, without affecting FRP readiness requirements.
What Is the Navy's Approach to Maintenance?
Reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) and condition-based maintenance (CBM) are the two overarching concepts adopted by the surface navy. RCM is a systematic analysis approach in which the system design is evaluated for possible failures, the consequences of these failures, and the recommended maintenance actions that should be implemented. Under the RCM method, an investigation is performed on a ship's systems and equipment to determine the service and testing necessary to maintain them in a condition that allows them to operate within established performance standards. The investigation process identifies maintenance requirements and periodicities and may identify at what level they should be accomplished. Preventive maintenance requirements such as those that are time or age based are determined using these concepts.
The CBM concept requires maintenance to be done only when there is objective evidence of the need through continuous sensing/monitoring technologies, visual inspection, and so on. For example, a sensor may be used to monitor the chemistry of the oil in a piece of equipment's circulation system, wherein the oil degrades with equipment run time, thereby changing its chemistry. Once the chemistry changes beyond a certain threshold, the equipment is due for an oil change. The approach is referred to as CBM, since the decision to change the oil is based on the actual "condition" of its chemistry.
By Whom Is Maintenance Performed?
Ships undergo some form of maintenance at all times during their life cycle, whether or not they are deployed. Fleet maintenance is performed at organizational, intermediate, and depot levels.
At the organizational level, a ship's force performs planned or corrective maintenance that is within its capability. A ship's force maintenance takes advantage of the crew's maintenance and repair capabilities in order to maintain the self-sufficiency and mission readiness of the ship.
Intermediate maintenance activities also include preventive and corrective maintenance. Currently, intermediate-level maintenance may be performed by surface combatants' Fleet Maintenance Activities (FMAs), including the RMCs' production departments, and Battle Force Intermediate Maintenance Activities (BFIMAs, or the maintenance elements of deployed units beyond the organizational level). Maintenance performed by FMAs requires specialized skills, processes, technical proficiency, or equipment or instruments that are not available to the ship's force. Commercial industrial services perform maintenance that is similar to that performed by fleet maintenance activities, but which are beyond the capacity of the FMA.
Excerpted from Impacts of the Fleet Response Plan on Surface Combatant Maintenance by Roland J. Yardley Raj Raman Jessie Riposo James Chiesa John F. Schank Copyright © 2006 by RAND Corporation. Excerpted by permission.
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