Naval shipyard pilot program aims to improve efficiency

Sept. 10 (UPI) — A Naval shipyard has a six-week pilot program to improve efficiency after the Navy testified late last year that there were maintenance backlogs nationwide.

The Pudget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, Washington will host the six-week pilot to help the Naval Sea System Command shipyard become more efficient.

The Naval Sustainment System-Shipyards initiative aims to deliver 100 percent of maintenance projects on time or early by streamlining the process to “improve internal coordination and eliminate barriers between mechanics and their work,” the Naval Sea System Command said in a statement.

It pairs Boston Consulting Group with the command shipyard “to bring commercial best practices into the naval maintenance process,” the statement said.

The consulting firm also recently helped the Navy improve its F-18 airplane maintenance.

Elaine Priest, the shipyard’s product lines director, said that the NNS-S team is analyzing five components overall that could improve efficiency, including shipyard transformation, planning, engineering, material and technology.

The initiative will focus on repair of ball valves in submarines, Priest added.

“We chose this area (the ball valve work center) for several reasons,” Priest said. “Most important, though, is that the work (the ball valve work center) does is vital to on-time completion of submarine availabilities.”

The NNS-S initiative has already established a production control center for ball valve work that has improved the pace of work flow. Once the pilot is completed, PCCs can be established at other shipyard locations to do the same.

The six-week pilot follows the Navy outlining a 30-year plan for ship repair and upgrades to sort out maintenance delays and backlogs late last year at a congressional hearing.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., last November cited a Government Accountability Office report at the hearing, which found 14 submarines had spent a combined 61 months unable to deploy due to shipyard backlogs leading to maintenance delays. Several senators noted that it took 15 months to repair the USS John S. McCain following its collision near Singapore.

“We are always chasing best-ever performance,” Capt. Dianna Wolfson, PSNS and IMF commander, said in the statement. “We are never perfect, but it’s a journey. We are on that journey together.”