The ability of the Navy’s four shipyards to complete aircraft carrier and submarine maintenance on time directly affects military readiness because maintenance delays reduce the amount of time aircraft carriers and submarines are available to perform their missions and protect our national security. The Navy’s four shipyards have continued to face chronic and substantial delays in over half of aircraft carrier and more than three-quarters of submarine maintenance periods, and the Navy has experienced substantial growth in idle time for submarines awaiting the start of maintenance periods.
Shipyard Performance to Plan initiative may help NAVSEA and shipyard leadership better understand factors contributing to maintenance delays and inform decisions to address them. However, NAVSEA has not developed over half of its metrics for measuring the impact of the unplanned work and workforce factors or implemented related goals, action plans, milestones, and a monitoring process to improve the timely completion of maintenance.
Set of metrics would help the Navy better address the main causes of maintenance delays, metrics on their own would not resolve those issues. Unless NAVSEA uses the key elements of a results-oriented management approach to address factors contributing to maintenance delays such as unplanned work and workforce issues at the Navy shipyards, delays in maintenance periods and idle time are likely to persist. Completing these actions as soon as possible could increase the overall availability of aircraft carriers and submarines to perform needed training and operations in support of their various missions and improve readiness.
“Shipyard Performance to Plan initiative to address both unplanned work and workforce factors to better understand maintenance challenges and future capacity needs”
“Performance to Plan” initiative includes the proposed development of analytically based metrics to measure various aspects of shipyard maintenance that could support the development of potential solutions to address them. Specifically, the initiative includes 25 metrics being developed to improve the Navy’s understanding of the causes of maintenance delays. Nearly all potential metrics—are intended to measure various aspects specific to the unplanned work and workforce factors we found to be the main causes of maintenance delays for aircraft carriers and submarines at the Navy’s four shipyards.
According to Navy officials and plans, this effort is intended to help the Navy improve full and timely completion of maintenance, including for aviation, surface ships, and submarines. For example, the effort for surface ship maintenance currently involves a pilot program looking at how to better plan and execute maintenance periods for DDG 51-class destroyers, including examining how to improve the accuracy of forecasted maintenance requirements and duration and better adhere to planning milestones, among other outcomes.
Metrics to measure the unplanned work factor: As of February 2020, 10 of the 25 metrics being developed in the initiative focused on addressing various aspects of the unplanned work factor. For example, a forecast and planning efficiency metric is being developed to measure the accuracy of 3-year planning ship maintenance forecasts as compared with actual results. In addition, metrics are being developed to quantify the main causes of ship maintenance planning inaccuracy, such as new work, which have led to schedule delays and cost increases at the shipyards.
Metrics to measure the workforce factor: As of February 2020, 12 of the 25 metrics being developed in the initiative focused on addressing various aspects of the workforce factor. For example, a metric is being developed to measure task duration while another is to measure work throughput. In addition, metrics are being developed to identify whether tasks were started on time, among other things.
NAVSEA’s Shipyard Performance to Plan initiative has been underway since the fall of 2018. However, as of February 2020, more than half—13 of 25—of the proposed metrics remained undeveloped. Specifically, each proposed metric included six categories of information: definition of the metric, data owner, data source, status of the data (complete/incomplete), way ahead (next steps), and correlation (to maintenance delays).
Twelve of the proposed metrics appear to be fully developed because they include information in each category. For example, for schedule execution efficiency, a definition of the metric, the data owner, and data source were identified and the status of the data, the way ahead, and the correlation to maintenance delays were all described. However, we found that 13 of the 25 proposed metrics were not fully developed. For example, as of February 2020:
Two proposed metrics related to unplanned work intended to measure both discoverable and undiscoverable new work included the identification of a data owner, but the metrics have not been defined, and the data source, status of the data, way ahead, and correlation to delays categories are characterized as “to be determined.”
The proposed metrics for both planned and actual manning included definitions, data owners, data sources, and way ahead, but the status of correlation to maintenance delays is identified as “to be determined.”
The proposed metrics, “start tasks on time” and “workforce experience,” had planned completion dates of October 2019 and these dates were not updated in two subsequent briefings
Visual dashboard depots are developing is intended to enable officials to drill down from strategic metrics—such as P2P—to operational or tactical metrics, as needed, to help them better pinpoint the causes of poor performance and therefore to develop solutions. For example, if the P2P metric shows a particular depot as not meeting its goal, then officials will be able to review a related operational metric, such as one called “First Pass Yield,” which identifies whether the depot is experiencing high rates of rework. If needed, officials could obtain more detailed information about the depot’s performance by drilling down further to another operational metric, such as one called “Route Accuracy,”
Depot stakeholders reported that they did not know how the depots could incorporate the input that they provided at a workshop intended to discuss data sources of the metrics. Specifically, according to these depot stakeholders, they learned at this workshop that the metrics initiative may result in metrics that are not beneficial for the depots, but they did not know whether officials understood this or would address their concerns.
These depot stakeholders stated that to populate the metrics dashboard the depot may use a set of data that are different from those used by the depots to conduct daily maintenance work. Once metrics dashboard is launched, senior leaders may not fully understand the data and may reach out to the depots with questions about them. If metrics are based on a different set of data from those used by the depots, then the depots may have to devote additional resources to understanding the metrics data and answering related questions
“Navy Must Explain to Congress What it Needs to Keep Ship Repair Yards Able and Optimized to Maintain Modern Warships”
Congress mandated naval shipyard optimization plan is due with a companion plan regarding private shipyard investments also in the works by the service. Plan for the four public naval shipyards would include a “fairly significant investment over the course of about 20 years, $10 billion-plus” that includes upgrades to the drydocks, a redesign of the yards’ layouts to optimize the flow of people and material, and new equipment to maintain and modernize 21st Century warships.
Among the Navy’s challenges is that the oldest yard, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, originally designed for ship construction; though the Navy has made piecemeal improvements over the decades, there hasn’t been a strategic, concerted effort to overhaul these public shipyards to meet the Navy’s current needs.
Some of these upgrades are needed as newer ships come into the fleet – the Virginia-class attack submarine with the Virginia Payload Module will not fit in all the naval shipyards’ drydocks, for example – and if the Navy hopes to sustain a 355-ship fleet it needs to begin making investments to improve the yards’ output now.
Though not required by Congress, a hard look at the private repair yards is also necessary to support a 355-ship fleet, which can only be achieved in the near-term through service life extension programs (SLEPs) for many surface ships – work that would likely be done exclusively at private yards.
Additionally, as more even-variant Littoral Combat Ships come into the fleet and begin operations out of San Diego, drydocks on the West Coast will be even more in-demand, as those Independence-variant LCSs require a drydock for nearly all their maintenance availabilities.
“If you’re going to talk about a meaningful SLEP program we also have to turn our attention to the private sector and say, what does the private sector equivalent look like to this naval shipyard optimization plan? What does the private sector need in terms of drydocks and capacity and productivity improvements to manage the work we would demand out of them if we were going to go keep these ships longer?”
“So there’s a private sector equivalent which we haven’t done as much work on, so NAVSEA will be holding meetings with industry to inform this private yard plan.
“Over the course of decades and decades, we accumulated risk in our infrastructure,”
“We’re now at the point where we’ve gotten a little bit more sophisticated, we’ve culled the data, and NAVSEA’s maintenance and industry operations division has put together a very credible argument on the need to make decisions now and over the foreseeable future, that if we do not make decisions we start to lose the capability to do a type of ship in a drydock in this year, and it just starts to accumulate. So now is the time to articulate that and present that in terms of risk to senior decision-makers.”
“Following closely behind that … there’s a private sector piece that has to be a companion and integrated together.”
“So there’s going to be two companion products, and it’s a wide-ranging approach from the operator to communicate with senior leadership what the risks are. Both routine maintenance as well as upcoming SLEP efforts would put a “relatively significant demand signal on docks” in major fleet concentration areas like Norfolk and San Diego and also in places like the Pacific Northwest and in Florida
The private shipyard optimization plan will take into account what we’re doing on the public yard side,” but that a clear takeaway already is that “you can quickly go to, we need more docks.”
“Part of that, though, also becomes, what has happened to the docking duration? What’s happened to Navy oversight activity and industry’s activity during the dock duration, and how do we solicit docking-related avails in a more efficient way to allow industry to propose if they could double-dock ships,?
“The private part is different than the public; it doesn’t mean the Navy’s necessarily going to request funds to go buy docks out in the private sector. We might be improving some docks to modify that graving dock to handle a DDG with the sonar dome issues – but we obviously want to get to the incentive and cost-sharing approach that.industry is interested in across the nation.
“To do that, we realize the most important thing is probably predictable, forecasted work.”
1. Unplanned Work
Includes new work, growth work, rework, emergent repairs, testing, and late identification of work and requirements
2. Modernizations and Alterations
Includes adding new equipment and systems, providing improvements and changes that permanently change configuration of ship
3. Parts and Materials
Includes not being able to find or use the right spare parts or material, taking parts from one ship and putting them on another, lacking order history and long lead times
4. Facilities and Equipment
Includes not having enough dry dock capacity, poor conditions and old or broken machines and equipment
5. Condition of Ship at Arrival
Includes the condition of ship at arrival being worse than originally anticipated dues to aging fleet, high tempo of operations and extended deployment without regular maintenance
Includes capacity of having enough people, capability with the right skill sets and prioritization arranging people to address the most important maintenance, experience level, ship’s force, shipyard performance and contractor performance
7. Ships not Arriving as Planned
Includes when ship shows up at a time different than scheduled for maintenance due to operations and may affect other ships’ maintenance schedules
8. Sufficient Technical Data
Includes lacking technical papers for repairs, modernizations, and alterations, not having access due to contractor control of information
9. Effects of Deferred Maintenance
Includes effects of maintenance deferred at different points during a ship’s maintenance cycle
10. Information Technology Infrastructure
Includes computer programs without predictive capabilities, obsolete systems, lack of processing power, inability for systems to communicate with each other, and not being able to have technology in controlled areas