Navy Ship Delays Reduced, Plans Submitted


According to reports, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Navy ship days delayed by maintenance were reduced by 80% in fiscal 2020.

Additionally, just last week, the Navy released its Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans, which include project background and anticipated issues for Congress.

Delay Reduction

During a webinar of the Virtual Fleet Maintenance & Modernization Symposium of the American Society of Naval Engineers on Sept. 15, Rear Adm. Eric Ver Hage, commander, Regional Maintenance Center, said, “The needle is really moving, and moving in a good direction,” in regard to the Navy’s 2020 delay reduction.

“It’s not just about on time, it’s also getting the required work complete. In our 2020 DDG [guided-missile destroyer] availabilities, we are tracking to complete 99% of all of our mandatory technical requirements, the things required to keep a ship operating to its full expected life cycle. That also is an improvement over last year.”

Ver Hage added that fiscal 2020 has been a much busier year compared to previous endeavors, with 50 chief of naval operations availabilities and another 100 in planning; roughly 700 emergent availabilities; 157 ship readiness assessments; 20,000 intermediate-level tasks; and 25,000 technical assists.

According to Ver Hage, the accomplishments were the result of “a great team effort,” while noting that “there has been steadily improving collaboration between industry and the government.”

In May of this year, the government entity reported that it had begun exploring the use of a new digital software to help combat shipboard repairs and maintenance services.

Called a “digital twin,” the technology is reportedly comprised of IT networks where maintenance engineers located at surface warfare centers can identify damage, corrosion and alignment issues more quickly. The practice aids crews in being more proactive about the vessel’s maintenance prior to docking at the port.

To create a digital twin, Aerial Alchemy—an unmanned aerial systems company that the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Port Hueneme, California, signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with in June 2018—first worked to define the appropriate amount of remote-sensing technologies that would be needed to design a purpose-built unmanned aerial system. According to reports, Aerial used LiDAR and hyperspectral imaging, which is able to analyze information collected from across an electromagnetic spectrum.

The technology can also detect corrosion, as paint reflects radiation differently if there is underlying rust.

Scans from drones and onboard photogrammetry were used as well, to create a time-based, geotagged, metadata-dense models of the Independence. The Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer reports that these models are much more actionable datasets which can lead to a reduction in maintenance costs and human error because engineers are now able to make decisions prior to failure by degradation.

Once collected, the information is collected for operation in a commercial cloud environment where maintenance engineers (both on and offshore) can develop solutions.

Submitted Shipbuilding Plans

On Thursday (Sept. 24), the Navy submitted its “Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress” document, proposing its fiscal year 2021 budget requests and plans for maintaining a fleet of 355 ships of certain types and numbers. (The maintenance plan was released in December 2016 and was made U.S. policy by Section 1025 of the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2810/P.L. 115-91 of Dec. 12, 2017.)

In the document, the Navy has requested a total of roughly $19.9 billion for its shipbuilding account to for the procurement of seven new ships in FY2021, and 42 new ships over the course of the five-year shipbuilding plan. While previously the Navy proposed FY2021 budget requests the procurement of eight new ships in 2021 and 44 through 2025, the LPD-31—an LPD-17 Flight II amphibious ship that Congress procured in FY2020—and an LHA amphibious assault ship has since been excluded.

However, the new ships are reported to include one Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), one Virginia-class attack submarine (SSN), two DDG-51 destroyers, one FFG(X) frigate, and two TATS towing, salvage, and various rescue ships.

Overall, the requested budget is reported to be about $3.9 billion (16.3%) less than the Navy requested for the account for FY2020, about $4.1 billion (17.0%) less than Congress provided for the account for FY2020, and about $3.6 billion (15.3%) less than the $23.5 billion that the Navy projected under its FY2020 budget submission that it would request for the account for FY2021. The updated ship numbers are recorded to be 13 less than the 55 that were included in the FY2020 (FY2020-FY2024) five-year plan and 12 less than the 54 that were projected for the period FY2021-FY2025 under the Navy’s FY2020 30-year shipbuilding plan.

A full report on the plans can be viewed here.


Tagged categories: Government; Government contracts; Maintenance programs; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Rehabilitation/Repair; Ships and vessels; U.S. Navy; Upcoming projects

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