WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 24 SEAPOWER / MAY 2016
No doubt Building 325, the Navy’s newest addition at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, Calif., was designed with readiness
and efficiency in mind.
Created specifically to fix and overhaul the H- 60
Seahawk, the 100,000-square-foot helicopter maintenance facility combines large working bays and consolidated office spaces for the H- 60 Vertical Lift Integrated
Product Team (IPT). The hangar-like building replaces
three smaller, 1930s-era buildings that officials say
were outdated, cramped and inefficient at getting the
necessary work done to support the fleet.
With the Navy’s tilt toward putting more ships and
aircraft in the Pacific region, it came just in time.
The Navy plans to base about 240 MH-60S and
MH-60R helicopters on the West Coast. But its depot
maintenance facilities at Fleet Readiness Center (FRC)
Southwest have lagged behind in repair and overhaul
work for the busy, multimission helicopters amid a continued high operational tempo and steady wear and tear.
In 2014, the H- 60 maintenance
hub repaired, inspected or modernized 53 Seahawks — which is short
of the 80 needed to go through
the regular maintenance cycle or
planned maintenance intervals
(PMI) every three years to maintain
But a fleet of 240 helicopters
means the depot must handle the
“ 80 aircraft a year the Navy needs
to keep all their aircraft [readi-
ness] up,” said Travis Cooper, the
Vertical Lift IPT production man-
ager. “If we can only do 45 to 50
right now, that means they are put-
ting them into preservation.”
Squadrons might not be able to
fly those helicopters waiting for
rework or repair, and that has a
ripple effect: Fewer helicopters available for training
and the operational fleet, in turn, puts more flight
hours and wear-and-tear on each available aircraft and
can further degrade readiness.
But relief is here. After three years of construction,
the first H- 60 Seahawk was towed into Building 325 in
early February. It was not long before workers got their
hands on another dozen for rework and repair, and
FRC Southwest officials expect to quickly reach a good
turnaround pace to meet the fleet’s 80-a-year target.
At the Jan. 21 ribbon-cutting ceremony, Capt. Timothy Pfannenstein, FRC Southwest commander, called
Building 325 a “generational leap forward in supporting
our aviation fleet” and said the $49 million cost is “an
investment” in the future fleet.
“Reducing wait generates readiness,” Pfannenstein
told the crowd, noting that “more helicopters out
means more readiness to the fleet.”
The North Island depot handles nearly all H- 60
repairs, along with a smaller facility at Kaneohe Bay
Boosting Fleet Support
Efficiency is at the core of consolidated H- 60 depot maintenance
By GIDGET FUENTES, Special Correspondent
Central Repair Hub
Intent on reducing a significant maintenance backlog and improving readiness, the Navy has centralized depot-level repair services
for its H- 60 fleet in a modern hangar at Naval Air Station North
Island in Coronado, Calif.
n Officials say Fleet Readiness Center Southwest’s “model”
integrated maintenance plan will cut turnaround time significantly,
saving time and money.
n The design of the massive hangar — built with energy efficiency in mind — allows a smoother flow and quicker movement
of helicopters at various stages of repair and rework. Features
include tow-in/tow-out capability and multidirectional cranes.
n Officials expect to see planned maintenance events jump from
45 a year to 80.