Navy Times website had an article about fleet maintenance that absolutely infuriated ComNavOps (1). The article begins with a note about the Navy having to switch carrier deployments because one carrier is taking longer than expected to repair. Here’s the relevant quotes.
"The problems that drove the carrier switch — extended maintenance after years of high deployment pace and smaller crews — also plague other carriers and ships. Two attack submarines are more than six months late in their yard work and two guided missile subs are more than a year late, officials said."
"The attack boats are ‘the lowest priority in the shipyard,’ said Vice Adm. William Hilarides, the head of
Systems Command. ‘They are not doing well at all and are significantly late to their schedules.’ " Naval Sea
Hmm … So, the submarines, arguably the most valuable warship in the Navy, have the lowest priority. What’s wrong with this picture?
"The Navy often paints a rosy picture for overhaul schedules. But the fleet needs work, and the Navy’s top shipfixer says its time to ‘deal with the facts’ and set realistic goals for overhauls."
OK, that sounds like someone understands the problem but why is the rest of the Navy painting a rosy picture?
" ‘We started avails that were notionally six months long that we knew in our hearts were going to take nine or 10 months,’ Hilarides said in an Oct. 6 phone interview. He recalled telling fleet bosses that many 2014 overhauls were going to be late. They did not like the news ..."
"Navy officials estimate that 40 percent of preventative maintenance work is not getting done, or is not done right. Not following procedures is also a growing problem, especially in the surface Navy, and has caused more than $50 million in damages this year alone.”
So, the Navy knows what the problems are. I wonder if they know why the problems occurred?
“Hilarides places much of the blame on the failed ‘optimal manning’ initiative, which the Navy moved to reverse by adding back ship billets in 2011 after years of cuts that hollowed crews. Personnel officials still estimate the fleet has 7,000 gapped jobs."
So, the Navy knows why the problems occurred. I wonder if they’ve learned any lessons?
“‘If there is one thing I’ve learned, we shouldn’t take this apart again,’ Hilarides said. ‘We should rebuild it and keep it strong. This is part of the cost of running a world-class Navy.’ "
So, the Navy has learned their lessons.
Well, the entire multi-decade maintenance debacle has been painful and expensive but now we recognize the problems, the reasons, and we’ve learned our lessons. OK, the history of the problem is discouraging but at least the Navy is moving forward with a newfound clarity of thought and understanding of what needs to be done. We won’t see these problems crop up again.
And then, after all that, there’s this,
"Truman will begin a maintenance period at
Naval Shipyard in October to ensure the carrier is prepared for its expedited deployment. The availability will be about one-quarter of the 200,000 man-days originally planned, said Rear Adm. Richard Berkey, who heads fleet maintenance for FFC." Norfolk
The availability will be one-quarter of what’s needed.
One-quarter of what’s needed.
What happened to understanding the problem? What happened to recognizing why the maintenance problems got to be so bad to begin with? What happened to lessons learned?
Are you kidding me? Are you serious? Is Navy leadership really that stupid? This is why I started this blog. I saw a caste of leaders that were devoid of intelligence and integrity and were violating the trust of the sailors under their command and the trust of the American people. This absolutely infuriates me.
CNO Greenert, where are you? You are abdicating your responsibility. Get out of my Navy.
(1)Navy Times, "Flattop flip-flop: Repair problems force schedule change-up",
Oct. 18, 2014,