JUST IN: The Navy Seeks Better Approaches To Ship Maintenance
The Navy hopes to change the way it takes care of its ships after years of maintenance issues, according to a service official.
Rear Adm. Eric Hage, commander of the Regional Naval Maintenance Center and director of surface vessel maintenance and modernization for Naval Sea Systems Command, said the service takes a “directed maintenance” approach in which it pushes to anticipate potential problems with vessels before they arise.
“It’s almost like the mindset of preventive medicine… versus corrective medicine,” he said on Aug. 25 during a Navy League Association webinar. “The alternative is for things to break down while the ship is running, which is untenable.”
The Government Accountability Office turned its attention to the issue in a report released earlier this month titled “Shipyards: Actions Needed to Address Key Factors Causing Maintenance Delays for Aircraft Carriers and Submarines”. Between fiscal years 2015 and 2019, 75 percent of scheduled maintenance periods for aircraft carriers and submarines were completed late, according to the report.
Hage suggested developing more robust platforms and honing the ability to better predict potential failure areas. This can be done by taking measures such as reducing the number of navigation systems and gears, he said.
“It’s the idea of simplifying or reducing the diversity of systems,” he said. “There is only so much money [available] to maintain, and it makes it worse when you proliferate the amount of things these finite amounts have to be spread over. ”
Additionally, platforms are becoming increasingly software-intensive, Hage noted. The service must ensure that it is able to sufficiently test the products.
“We have to test it from a [hull, mechanical and engineering] perspective, but we also need to test it from a software perspective, ”he said. “We realized that it’s more and more central to the way these things work. … Are we testing them with full redundancy, with the full testing regime that we need? ” He asked.
John Rhatigan, president of the Marine Machinery Association, said it’s also important to consider how much it will cost to maintain a new piece of equipment. Platforms also need to be more robust and able to handle potential cyber risks, he noted.
“We have to find a better way to realize how expensive this equipment is… until its end of life,” he said.
The subjects: Shipbuilding