It also helps us forecast the workload per port or
per type of ship. If we have to be specific enough to
get under contract in the firm, fixed-price area, we
certainly need to know how much work is there and
how many hours are involved. It certainly is a contractual tool that allows us to do that — be more definitive on what we’re contracting for, putting industry
more in control of their destiny on that execution. It
helps us on the “on-time, on-budget” side both in the
constraints in the contract and forecasting how much
work we have.
What progress has been made in improving
intermediate maintenance capabilities?
DOWNEY: The more you improve on intermediate [I-level] maintenance, the less you will have in
unplanned work, whether it is equipment breaking
down or items that we find as we go through the open-and-inspect process in the availability.
On the workforce side, my predecessors have done
a great job in right-sizing the organization for what we
need overall in that workforce. The RMCs have grown
to a total of 6,000 to 7,000 people — about half of that
military, many of them heavily involved in the I-level
We’ve spent a significant amount of time over the
last five-plus years on improving the training for those
Sailors in the RMCs: how to take care of the equipment,
how to operate in the technical area, but more so how
to maintain it in a manner where they get qualified and
then they have the ability to teach the ship’s crew how
to maintain their equipment. The program has grown
by about 400 percent since the 2008-2009 time frame.
The program also helps them keep up with the latest
technologies that are coming into the fleet. The more
we improve on I-level, the more the ship is able to take
care of itself as well as project what work they need
from us when they’re coming into an availability. It
plays a major part in helping us help the ship achieve
its planned service.
Are any changes under way to improve the
RMCs’ capability to provide fleet technical
DOWNEY: As I said, we’ve grown the RMCs quite a
bit. We’ve aligned the technical trades and ratings and
capabilities in the homeports to the ships based there.
We have growth yet to do in the forward-deployed areas.
We have a very stable and reactive workforce out at
Naples [Italy] as well as Rota [Spain]. We’re at about
60 percent of where we plan to be in Bahrain. We have
more billets to fill out in that area directly related to the
ships that deploy to that region. In addition, we have
focused heavily on direct communications with the
ships while they are underway and how we can help
them troubleshoot if it is a ship we can’t fly out to or
We’ve also added an operations center type of capa-
bility specifically in our larger areas such as Norfolk.
There is a manned operation center that allows my
commanders to see the status of the fleet requests, of
the operations of the ship from a technical perspective,
and to respond as quickly as possible. We’ve also mir-
rored that so the watch here at NAVSEA headquarters
can inform me on any issues in the fleet via watch
officer, in addition to the commanding officer of the
RMC directly calling me. We’ve tried to increase the
situational awareness of our larger RMCs, which then
become the places that can flex to support the smaller
regional areas where needed.
We’ve also increased some of the tools they have
at the forward-deployed locations to give them better quick repair capability. We are looking at some
other common functions such as forward-deployed
diving capability in the Mediterranean and toward
the Bahrain area where we’re seeing trends on repeat
need for work.