U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., addresses the Sea-Air-Space
Exposition’s Congressional Breakfast April 18. Behind him is
U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn. Wittman and Courtney are
co-chairmen of the Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus.
Gardner, an engineer, describes the problem in
mathematical terms: “We have a bimodal distribution”
in the mix of workers at the yards in Maine, Virginia,
Washington and Hawaii.
Translation: “We have a lot of young people and we
have a lot of old people,” but not many in between.
As a result, the shipyards, which mainly repair
nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers, are
rapidly losing their most experienced employees and
must rely more heavily on junior workers.
“We have to promote people faster,” Gardner said.
Navy Works to Rein in Energy Costs
“Mechanics become supervisors after they’ve been in
the shipyard four to five years.”
The loss of experienced shipyard workers and rapid
promotions caused a drop in productivity and a decline in
work quality that the yards are still working to overcome,
Gardner said. The shipyards have launched several efforts
to increase worker efficiency and, in many instances, it is
the workers themselves who came up with the ideas for
increasing efficiency and reducing mistakes, he said.
Faced with fuel-thirsty new platforms like the Littoral
Combat Ship, F- 35 Lightning II and the planned P- 8
Poseidon aircraft — plus incentives driven by both
mandate and practicality — the Navy is embarking on
plans to rein in energy use and costs.
Speaking April 17, John Quinn, acting director of Energy and Environmental Readiness, outlined the service-wide approach the Navy is taking to achieve better energy
efficiency. It will take a reshaping of the culture and
rethinking the acquisitions process, he said.
Improved energy efficiency would produce real
improvements in combat capability by increasing
range endurance and payloads, and offset the higher
costs associated with operating the present generation
of ships and aircraft.
On the shore side, the Navy must reduce energy
consumption or face untenable fuel bills, Quinn said.
Energy consumption cost $17 billion per year in 2009;
it is projected to rise to $27 billion by 2030.
“That’s unacceptable,” he said.
Shore facilities will save money by using more natural lighting, conserving water and employing better
construction procedures, Quinn said. Renewable
resources, such as wind, solar, electric and geothermal
power, also will play major roles.
The Navy hopes to be running on 50 percent alternative fuels by 2020, in operational and shore commands, Quinn said.
Naval Aviation Focuses on Payloads
The naval aviation community is shifting its focus from
platforms to payloads as it looks to future programs and
maximizing the capabilities of its existing platforms.
Speaking at the Naval Air Systems Command Pavilion
April 17, Rear Adm. William F. Moran, acting director of
air warfare in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations,
said, “we tend to think in terms of platforms, but we are
shifting that focus over time.”
Moran discussed five enablers that will receive at-
tention as the future of naval aviation is considered:
open architecture, emerging technology, commonality,
capability integration and affordability.
Propulsion, which he considers “the long pole in the
tent,” is one technology that will be looked at to expand
capabilities such as range, endurance and payload, especially for the follow on to the F/A-18E/F, the F/A-XX.
Moran said he “had a lot of hope for commonality,
but a great amount of concern,” noting it has to be tied
to a strong business case.
For the future, the naval aviation planners are looking
at flexible payloads; sensors and weapons for the rotary
wing platforms, and the concepts for platforms such as the
F/A-XX; the next-generation naval helicopter, MH-XX;
and the replacement for the C-2A carrier onboard delivery
aircraft. Moran said the Navy is looking at the art of the
possible, including optionally manned aircraft, which can
fly one day manned and the next day unmanned. ■
Seapower Managing Editor Richard R. Burgess, Assistant Editor
John C. Marcario and Special Correspondents Nick Adde, William
Matthews, Daisy R. Khalifa, Otto Kreisher and John M. Doyle
contributed to this report.
For complete coverage of the seminars, speakers and events
from the 2012 Sea-Air-Space Exposition, including additional
photographs, video and audio samples, see Seapower Expo
Online at www.seapowermagazine.org/sas/index.html