Friday, July 15, 2011

SIMA Returns

VADM McCoy - I again tip my hat to you.
The Navy’s Southeast Regional Maintenance Center (SERMC) formally re-established its Intermediate Maintenance Activity (IMA) at Naval Station Mayport, June 28, providing the fleet with a renewed capability to train Mayport-based surface ship crews to perform shipboard maintenance and repairs.

In the past, IMAs served as a critical component of the training pipeline for fleet Sailors. In recent years, however, funding cuts led to the downsizing of these facilities. Re-establishing the intermediate maintenance activity in Mayport reflects the Navy’s commitment to a “back-to-basics” approach to shipboard material readiness.

“This is not just about a ceremony, but rather we are embarking on an important mission that recognizes the significant revolution that has happened in how the Navy views surface ship maintenance,” said Vice Adm. Kevin McCoy, commander, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA). “In a budget-constrained environment, the fleet has supported adding a total of 50 additional skilled personnel to this activity. By 2012, we will add another 85 military and civilian. We are expanding and bringing back the needed facilities to properly support the needs of the fleet.”
I almost titled this another "XXX goes Salamander" - as things that we have been talking about for years - and being told to shut up about because we "didn't get it" - are now coming to pass.

Read it all - but this from NAMTS News sounds like vindication.
While the changes were well-intended and the immediate results of the reorganization of the maintenance infrastructure and hands-on in-rate training created a short term cost savings for the Navy, the unintended consequences of not training Sailors to maintain or repair their shipboard equipment created a noticeable void in material readiness that degraded with time.

The commanders of the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets, concerned over this decline in readiness, commissioned a Fleet Review Panel in 2009 to look into how Surface Force readiness had changed and to make recommendations for improvements. The Panel report concluded there was no single specific cause or issue driving down Surface Forces readiness, but rather it was the result of many changes in policy and practices over time. The report served as a catalyst to focus senior Navy leadership's attention on the readiness issue and spawned a number of corrective actions.
Ya'll's can put the beer you owe us next to Mr. T's Haircut's seat for when he returns.

I know this resonated with a lot of folks on the front porch active duty, civilian, retired and otherwise as many of you sent this to me.

Let's bask on another data point on the way back to sanity and recovery.

BTW - one reason I am not crowing is that this burden from the fever-addled minds of the Transformationalists was born by - and will be fixed on - the backs of Sailors. They suffered for the theories of lesser men - and they will rebuild and repair the damage done. They will, given time, get us back to square one. From there we can start to improve and make it better.

BZ to those who made it happen. Time to get to work, we have a mess to clean up.

If you need more shore BA/NMP to build it up - just give me the manning documents from OPNAV and CNP - I'll find you the BSC in about 45 minutes as long as you let me re-code as I wish. I'll leave the paygrades - I just want free access to the BSC. Yea, I'll find you the bodies. Heck - I'll even give you 20% for savings.


AW1 Tim said...

 I am very pleased to see that seomeone has the helm and is shifting course.

 There is a pride in ownership that comes with doing your own maintenance on your own ship.  It's more than just keeping her in good trim. It's building confidence in yourself and your shipmates that YOU and THEY can take care of your home, that sense of self-reliance that is a basic part of a free man, and an American.

  Pride in work is not a sin. Being able to point to something and say "I did that!" is good for both the sailor and his ship, and when sailors have that pride of accomplishment, good things happen to morale and combat efficiency. You can't measure it, but you know it when you see it.

Anonymous said...

All those massive personnel cuts and reductions at Fleet Technical Support Center in Norfolk (and West Coast, too) arre now coming back to haunt us.

Need to go back and find some of that expertise that was cut by Surflant and others.   And don't just hire all brand new inexperienced workforce.  Go beat the bushes and hire back some of the old timers, bringing them back out of retirement all over the Hampton Roads area.    I'd be glad to go back to work and help mentor some newbies in proper ship maintenance.   Too bad I'm male with sunburned old white skin.   Oh yea, I'd have to spend the first 3 years taking all those new fangled Defense Acquisition University courses instead of explaining the key parts of Mil-Standards to the newly hired that I was mentoring.   Oh yeah, I forgot.  All those new hires will be spending most of their "free" time in those first 36 months getting qualified as defense acquisition professionals (AP's).    No time to learn the EIMB, NIMB, and other basic bible essentials.

Guest said...

Maybe we can accelerate the retirement of some of the rotten apples at the higher levels, and recoup that money to buy the Sailor Billets that are needed to actually do work.

How many 05s and 06s are there still on Active duty that were found guilty of misconduct but are now lingering all over the navy, still collecting a pay check?   

Discharge them at one lower paygrade at least...and get them off the payrolls.  It's a disgrace to the Navy and irresponsible action of those in charge of public funds.

Boat School Grad said...

Two years to ID the problem and just get STARTED on the solution?!

These Flags will never survive in the private sector.

Stu said...

Unfortunately, yes they will.  They get a new wind in private industry where they work hard at foisting their "good ideas" on the military all while charging for it. 

Squidly said...

Good start.  Now bring back a couple of destroyer tenders and keep rotations to the MED & Gulf and another in Westpac.

Grandpa Bluewater. said...

Good.  Far too little and very, very late...but as the man said, it's a start. One in every navy port in the USA is a bare minimum.   Next, start a MOTU.

Now we have to kill the notion that enlisted people are a cost.  Properly trained and led, they are a force multiplier, not to mention the fact they are the ones who do the work of the Navy.

Simply and at the core, they are the Navy.

e ringer said...

best excuse to leave the basin early.  'i'm going to sima (somewhere in mayport area).'

leesea said...

Reactivating an old tender designed to support ship types and system not still in the fleet might not be cost effective?

On the other hand, the last time I saw the tender numbers, NAVSEA wanted 11 years !! and $900 mil each to bring build a follow on to existing tenders.  I don't think they will be in any SCN budget  when the next go-round of cuts slices thru it?

I need to look thru current budget to pin those down.

sid said...

Gonna have reinstill a culture of crew ownership for the care of their ship...

As for the multiple crew model...How did the boomers maintain that? (I do remember hearing Blue (or Gold) guys bitching about how the other crew left the boat in Charleston).

Anyway if that doesn't happen, I fear all this SIMA stuff won't get far.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Some time in the near future, leesea, we are going to find out that it is not cost effective to lose a battle/war because we were too stupid to have capabilities-based budgets and not budget-based capabilities. 

It was not "cost effective" to SLEP the Spruances.  Or to maintain any of them in mothballs for future needs.  So they are gone, some with 50% service life unused. 

It was not "cost effective" to install VLS in the first five Ticos.  Nor maintain them in mothballs for future needs.  So they are gone, all with about 50% service life unused. 

It isn't "cost effective" to SLEP the FFG-7s.  So they will go away as well.  Without replacement.

It was not "cost effective" to maintain the LPD-4s and LSDs, to keep the 2+ MEB requirement, so out they went.  Lo and behold, we now have about a 1.6 MEB amphib capability.  With eyes again toward the Pacific, where the problems of 2015 look an awful lot like 1940.

Well, all of those WERE cost effective, but the Navy chose not to spend on any of them.  So what is the first thing out of the mouths of senior Navy leadership when discussing the Maritime strategy?  Not enough hulls. 

Pardon me if I am somewhat skeptical of what the Navy thinks is "cost effective".

FCC said...

Next, start a MOTU.

Came here to say this. 

As a young tech/operator, I learned a lot more about how to fix, tweak, maintain, and run a CIWS mount from the MOTO/FTSC guys (whom I just about idolized - and with whom, though they're long since retired, I am still Facebook Friends today) than I did from the ATG bubbas who were clearly just going through the motions and seemed to always have to get back to their Navy College coursework.

FCC said...

Nice!  I also like "I'm gonna go spend some time on TFOM*."

* - not "traning figure of merit," but "that family of mine."

PK said...

one of the first things that needs to be done is to turn a really hard eye to this one hundred thousand dollars per body per year cost. the navy has had a really desearved reputation for using overstated costs to push an agenda and i have seen from actual examination that that reputation is true.

the first place to eyeball is in the human resources world.

also the shore billets.


PK said...

nahhhhh granpa  ut them on something that floats and moves itself (LIKE A SHIP).

tenders forever!!!!!!


Anonymous said...

How did the boomer maintain that?  Three reasons.

1.  How well the two COs liked each other.  This set the tone for the quality of the turnover.

2.  Always turning the hull over to the same set of guys.  If you screwed a Goldie, in 100 days, he was going to screw you.  Part and parcel to this is that each crew has a reactor safeguards examination annually, meaning the hardware (the propulsion system) was inspected two times a year.

3.  A special color money (meaning a different OPN account).  While the rest of the navy was stuck with PRi4 requisitions, boomers had PRI999.  You needed a part for your IC gear, you got it.

It's the way of the wealthy, but the result is 67% op tempo for a 50% pers tempo.

PK said...

leesea: it sounds as though you've been listening to guys that are trying to sell brass rivets for gold.

i am an ex tender sailor. USS Bryce Canyon AD36. it and the sister ships were converted refrigerator ships built on the C7 hull plan. they were finished about 1945 and put in moth balls directly. a couple of years later they were converted.

they had machine shops, a valve shop, sheet metal shops, pattern maker shops, gage shops, optical shops, torpedo shops/magazines, boiler maker shops, weld shops, shipfitter shops, diesel shops, boat shops, dash shops, and an electric furnace foundary.

on the after boom stand there was a very heavy ~50t?? jumbo boom that they used for lifting machine tools aboard (handled a 26 ton bullard quite nicely) that they mostly used to CHANGE PROPELLORS ON DESTROYERS ALONG SIDE WHILE IN THE WATER. 

the forward port side boom had a gaff on it that allowed the electronics shop to change antennas on ships along side.

even with all of this crap installed we had room for 15,000 rounds of 5"38, 15,000 rounds of 5"54, about 100,000 rounds of 40mm, about a gabillion rounds of 20mm...... big enough mess decks to feed two fletcher class crews in additon to ours and a whole bunch of other stuff.

the engine fire room (our boilers were lit off for 50 weeks a year) feeding "shore steam" to vessels along side and 480v 3ph "shore power" so the ships along side could go completely "cold iron" if they had to.

the vast majority of the work was done on pieces of equipment that could be carried through a standard water tight hatch. (remember we were a destroyer tender not a repair ship)

we could manufacture. (placques, placques, placks.) but an awful lot of it was reringing pumps, reringing and machineing firemain valves, new porthole bolts, fire pump shafts calibrating gages, calibrating meters........... 

we seemed to be awfully handy where ever we went. we would tie up and the guys from the other ships would swarm aboard dragging their junk looking for us to fix it.


Squidly said...

Dusting off the cobwebs...methinks it was PRI 1 with an RDD of 999

ASWOJoe said...

Nice of them to finally figure out what the fleet's known for years.  Of course in their haste to turn our maintenance over to contracted employees and deprive our snipes of much needed shore billets and technical training the flags apparently demolished or repurposed the buildings and sent all the tools to DRMO.

Maybe they can get some stimulus funding for new tools.  I understand the Mexican cartels got $10M or so in new guns from that bill, you'd think they could spare some to invest in the fleet.

Squidly said...

Everytime an AD pulled into Yoko it was like Xmas.  Once we hit the jackpot and actually had two inport simultaneously, so we were able to "compete" repair packages.  If one wouldn't agree to fix something the other ship would.  Did great work and the price was right.  Fixed a lot of the stuff that SRF Subic would screw up.  SRF Yoko could do all the same work, but at much higher cost (yeah, I realize deploying a tender has hidden costs too).

Only time we had a bad time was when JASON pulled in...wouldn't take our repair package because she had to repair "simulated battle damage" for other words, she was renovating her mess decks while on a WESTPAC.  But then, she was an AR and not an AD.   

Anonymous said...

its not as simple as it seems.


if you trash can the head guy (no bumping rights or transfers to a lower grade or lateral transfers, or incentives allowed) then that frees up the people under him to go elswhere and do productive work. if his work absoluteley has to be done give it to another office and when the sniveling starts simply tell them to "soldier on". remember these guys have to do things to justify their existance, that costs money and if a salesman happens by it can cost a lot of money, so just remove the opportunity to spend money.

perhaps they might do some primary trials in the "diversity industry".


pk said...

just think how many of these offices exist only to execute form DD XXXX.

perhaps an audit of form requirements and maintainence in light of the modern computerized offices might be in order.


pk said...

guest: one of the things that you got to remember is that an awful lot of work and regulation engaged in the suppression of civilians trying to REALLY rip off the navy.

oh yeah i forgot.

this is also the bunch that got us LCS2 &LCS2.

belay my last.


sid said...

The very best thing that could have happened to the Midway, the Indy...can't say one way or the other about the Sh-ty Kitty...was to have them home ported in Japan.

Added years to those boats' lives. 

Of course, just take a look at how the JSDF maintains their ships (or at least used never-dulling the WTD dog wedges), and its pretty easy to see why.

sid said...

<span> A special color money (meaning a different OPN account).  While the rest of the navy was stuck with PRi4 requisitions, boomers had PRI999.  You needed a part for your IC gear, you got it. </span>

Certainly saw that...

I was always jealous of how the lived and what they got.

Of course I guess its a good investment to keep folks who have control of megatons fairly well satisfied.

pk said...


if you see my rant above:

naturally the twiddgets sent people to schools.

when we got a new ship class to work on it was usuasually some equipment replaced in the electronics shop. the supply types would be busily stuffing some more stuff in the store rooms. really not that much displacement that we saw.

the real value of the tenders from the wardroom point of view was that we could do things over seas without a lot of palaver.

you've shot out the barrel on mount 51? come along side tomorrow morning with the mount presented to the after booms and you can go back shooting the next day.

the big eyes on mount 52 has a broken front lense. get it to us and we'll have it back in 4/5 hours.  

your motor generator for the asroc absolutely has to have the commutator turned. yeah we got a guy that can do that inplace in about 10 hours.

somebody put a 3" round through the dash control stand and the splinters killed a guy in the barber chair in the dash hanger and the barber has the shakes so bad nobody will get near him. we'll patch up the holes, take your dead and send him to the states, we can take the barber and train him how to punchtubes in the fire room quite well. our condolances on the guy in the chair.

during nam the ship fitters did a lot of compartment refinishing. (there was one 5"54 gun mount perched on the 01 level aft on one of the classes that every time they shot the thing a couple of particles of insulation..... would fall to the floor in the compartment beneath it. they shot thouands of rounds through those things and over a period of time the mess cooks [it was the chiefs quarters] would carry all of the insulation, paint, fittings... out the door in a dust pan.)  

yeah we didn't get the big picture, we were to busy getting the firepump rotating assembly for the Sterrett rebuilt and balanced so we could hit the beach. about half the work we did (and we thought we were busy) came in through the sally port with a sad story attached to it and the chief never saw it.

oh and shipboard maintainence: when we went to sea ( about two weeks a year) we scrubbed, chipped, painted.........  and it was "chief this painting is making me seasick. thats ok here's a bucket keep at it.  a few minutes later yaguuuuglh in the bucket. chief says,  i guess he was right, oh well its just time for lunch."

and on, and on , and on.


pk said...

navy has a really big outfit in memphis that is supposed to be rebuilding and storing machine tools just for a need like this.

there also  used to be one on rough and ready island in the sacramento harbor but it think that its' gone.


sid said...

<span>These Flags will never survive in the private sector.</span>

Oh...they do verrry well indeed!

I just wanna know which blue blazer, khaki pants wearin' ex-FOGO is gonna sell the LCS "treatments"...

Every time I think about it, I keep seeing this.

Oh well.

Nuthin' New Under The Sun....

OldCOB said...

Boomers had 3 crews, the Blue Crew, the Gold Crew, and the Other Crew.  Guess which crew got most of the blame.

Aside from the bitchin' they made it work.  It used to be called professionalism.  I think it got replaced by diversity or six sigma or some other flavor of the month.

Byron said...

Our Navy paints them.... Truly, what the Navy does to watertight doors would make most of you cry. I know I damn near made a DCA cry once when he made the mistake of asking me why I was doing a damage assessment (or as we call it, "required visual inspection and operational test") to his watertight doors right outside of his shop. Didn't take kindly to me telling him that no one on this ship not only knew how to adjust a water tight door, they didn't even know how to close one properly.

Aubrey said...

URR, that was a perfect assessment!

"budget based capabilities" nails it - great summation

sid said...

<span>Our Navy paints them....</span>

Wow...They actually do paint something sometimes!?

Anonymous said...

As an afterthought,

Byron said...

Dammint, that sounds just like the Navy I used to know in the way back when! Now, just WHERE THE HELL DID IT GO, DAMMIT!!!!!!!

UltimaRatioRegis said...

<span>Byron, you're so damned old your "way back when" was probably triple expansions and coaling at Manila Bay!  </span> 8-) <span>      
But one of those tender thingies does sound damned handy for a fleet that has to come and stay, dunnit?  We ought to get us a couple.</span>

CDR Salamander said...

You silly coot - it "transformed."  How's that working  for 'ya?

Anonymous said...

A tender is a mobile base for a squadron of generally similar ships (plus wandering strangers). Once it drops the hook within boating distance of a pier and an airport it provides an IMA+, a supply warehouse and expediting center, a magazine and armory, quarters and offices for the squadron staff, port services, POL, shore power, fresh water, pure water, compressed air, crane and wt test, rigging services not to mention medical, dental, pass and ID, travel arrancgements and mail, and chaplains, and etc.

MOTU is the pros from Dover, the men with the magic touch for electronics, who work with and on the tender.

Grandpa Bluewater said...

"Guest ce moi". Oops.

Grandpa Bluewater said...

Fulton lasted damn near 50 years and I think one of the AR's actually made it.  Fulton worked on everything from O boats to 688's.  Among other things the interior of the Tender morphs over the years to meet the need as the state of the art on the ships tended shifts.

It wasn't cost effectiveness or mission accomplishment that killed 'em, it was bad press, pregnant sailors and foolin' around in fan rooms, and the lust for the services of the sailors not in the repair dept. by force maintenence types and ED's who wouldn't understand contingency dispersal sites and notional numbers if you sent them to a war college.

Grandpa Bluewater said...

Damn tootin'!

Byron said...

Brings back memories of the old Yo Yo...I had a job to repair a holed deck in a female berthing head. Since we had to use ships force firewatches the relatively simple job took freakin' forever. This one MA1 who's berth was in the space tried to jack me up one day about why it was taking so long to get the job done, to which she got the whole 210pds of seriously pissed off shipfitter right back at her. She told me she was getting really tired of waiting for me to get done so she could have her regular nooner with one or more of her berthing-mates. I guess she though she could shock me. I told her right back, you make sure I get firewatches at 0730 ready to stand fast and to stay with me all day long I'll be out of here in three days and you can do the horizontal mambo with anyone you want as often as you want, and I could give a sh!t. Otherwise, get out of my face.

I got firewatches and the one that skated off got stood so tall by her I thought the boy would pee his trou.

Believe it or not, after 4 months of hard work, the Navy stopped the contract dead in it's tracks and announced that Yosemite would not go to the Med (since we all doubted she'd get that far) and that she would be decom'd in Philly. 3 million down the hole, just like that.

Byron said...

"You silly coot - it "transformed."  How's that working  for 'ya?"

Yeah, transformed from real sailors into twidget girly girls who don't know jack about being sailors.

MR T's Haircut said...

Holy Beers!  I just found a bunch of Coors Light next to me seat!  Thanks Big Navy!

MR T's Haircut said...

Marshall did this on the eve of WW2.  He spent most of the late 30's noting in his little black book (seriously, he used a little black book) who had the skills to lead in combat, and when the time came to expand the Army, he sent MANY Colonels and Generals home early... without delay.

time to do it again.. problem is, the Navy sorely lacks a Marshall... closest is Stavrides... and he is gonna go home

MR T's Haircut said...

We have the enemy and he is us...

Skippy-san said...

Someone should tell this to CNAF who really did dirt to the overseas AIMD's as a part of Airspeed. Part of any drop in deployed readiness can be attributed to that- and the other part can be attributed to the USAF and AMC.

Wonder if that means they can go back to building Hornet engines in Atsugi?

Skippy-san said...

As a confirmed liberty hound my hat is off to submariners- a 100 days at sea sucks.

Skippy-san said...

I'm told the early series TICO's were ridden pretty hard during their service lives. They would however make an ideal BMD platform anchored in the Black Sea- assuming you could put a VLS and new antennas and Aegis software on them. Couldn't cost any more than we are already spending on Aegis Ashore.

pk said...

thank you byron, thank you thank you thank you.


pk said...

that ship was considered to be a SMALL tender.


UltimaRatioRegis said...

Yep.  Wouldn't MDA have loved five additional BMD platforms?

Or, failing that, replacing the fore and aft 5"/62 and Mk 26 with three Mk 71 mounts, what a hell of a NGFS platform we just made, for relatively cheap.   The CG-47 hulls were designed for the 8", by the way, fore and aft. 

pk said...

about when was that?

in the sixties the small tenders did 90% of their own work. (it was called being along side the tender). we rebabbited and rebored our own spring bearing on one occasion.

oh and i did see a triple expansion engines in Kaosuing china, it was an oil burner though. on one of those boats that had funny electronics  and a whole bunch of civilians carrying  thompson machine guns with drum mags.  come to mind every body carried some kind of piece and they all looked well worn.

AW1 Tim said...

Saw that earlier. Sigh.

Skippy-san said...

If you want to really get sad- go to Philly Naval yard. There they sit where the big gun cruisers used to be.

pk said...

back in the sixties we had an advantage that the current navy does not now and never will have.

you know how tradition molds the fleet? well we had a whole bunch of mustangs, superchiefs, LDO's and warrents that got their start in the big one.

and we stood watches with them.

and they would talk about "how it was".

there was the chief torpedoman who served aboard a wooden mine sweeper that leaked, and leaked, and leaked. he was wet for six years.

there was the senior chief machinery repairman who was a diver on the battle ship salvage work in pearl harbor.

there was the Lt. Commander who when he was a first class machinists mate, floated a fifty foot work boat off of a torpedoed APA, picked up 30 survivors as it sunk, and the whole works navigated to a port about 780 miles away.

there was the warrent shipfitter who said very little but when the cooks would burn the meat (which that bunch could do in a steam kettle) he could be found topsides staring over the side, hands on the life rail. bending it into a considerable kink.

we were well aware that we were "standing on the shoulders of giants" and some of those giants were right beside us.

ensigns and jg's might rant and rave but when one of them said "turn to sailor" it was always "Aye, Aye Sir." and move immediately.



Skippy-san said...

Kitty Hawk did OK- but the optempo ratcheted up considerably starting when Darth Vader took over C7F . And BMD came along. CTF-70 ships are averaging 240 days out of home port a year.

pk said...

i did work on norton sound in the mid 80's. of course it was a weapons test ship at the time.


pk said...

if they're gonna do sima's and tenders they have to remember something.

centralized parts and materials storage is the death of those people.

for example,  back in the day one of the ships would "burn up a boiler" every tube in the superheater and most of the ones in the generating banks.  and in order for the tender to retube the beast (something that they could and did do every once in awhile) they had to get the tubes. in the old days the chengs and repair officers would scrounge tubes, 500 on the tender, fifty on a cruiser over at peir xx a hundred from the bird farm over at cubi point, 300 from the SRF in Yokusaka.....

all on a promise to pay. and so the job would be done in about a month. (with maybe some of that at sea).

now with everything in pennsylvania an order for 2600 tubes would go in to SPCC , that would kick the system into a reorder because it exceeded the yearly expected usage rate and they would order say 15,000 to cover refit, repair and overhaul needs for the next .... years. only one or two tube mills would bid on the offoring (of course that was 90 days for bidding, 30 days for reading bids and awarding. the mills schedule window is 18 months out.......). gotta save a nickle on economics of scale you know.

the upshot is that we have a "gunship" that can normally do 36 but can only get 24-28kts.......... without that 4th boiler. the guys with the stiff sleeves don't like that but they don't like that nearly as much as the crew (and speaks of quite loudly about when there are 8" shell splashes back in the roostertail).

i was doing a cby in the 70's and comcrudespac in san diego told me that an adams class was running $29,000 a day not counting fuel, water and ammunition.

of course someone is going to jump on "economics of scale" and "we don't have boilers now".  but the principle is the same. there will be some nagging type of repair parts, maybe airplane engines..... that will suffer from this problem.

what i'm saying is, yeah we can haul a propellor form conus to timbucto in an airplane, but will that space/weight be needed to haul the 8th of the 12th of the 98th out to fort mutherfletcher instead. however occasionally the sweet little old white haired lady on the corner desk will check the priority box and they will load a 240# billet of "special stuff" into the second seat of an F4 and fly it from los angeles to subic for that job on the enterprise that we did.


Byron said...

Around 90, if memory serves. And yes, they did a lot of work...but...there was just so damn much of it. We inserted the forward engineroom bulkhead and part of the item called for X rays of the weld seams. The SUPSHIP for the job came down for the visual inspection of the welds before we could call out the X ray (or "RT") checkpoint. We then asked him why in Gods name were they wasting their time RT'ing this bulkhead as it would probably cause a good sized chunk of it to crumble. He look at us funny, and six inches away from the weld, we tapped, yes, tapped the bulkhead with a chiping hammer and poke a hole in it. It was paper thin. We tried to tell NAVSEA, they told us no extra work, this is it, we've already gone way over budget.

Soon after, the whole availability got shut down and the decom was announced. Supposedly at that time they were going to tow her to Philly and make a school ship out of her. Never happened though.

leesea said...

pk, URR et al.  I was NOT questioning the capabilities of tenders. The numbers I gave were from early 1990s for an AS.  I just went and checked the original SCN and there were NO tenders either new construction or conversion in it.  Will have to dig up latest 5 FYDP to see if any are in there?  Once again don't shoot the messenger pls~

Those are all great stories about AD & I suspect of a few years ago?  Let's bring this up to something newer?  The USN recently announced that they were going to keep the existing tenders in service for up to 50 yrs.  I beleive SAL posted about that?  Find the article and post what you think back on that thread if you like.

I have been a advocate for forward logisitcs ships for a very long time.  There needs to be a mobile maintenance capability in the fleet (and it needs to adapted for newer ships and fleet dispesion).  Back when the AS issue came up a Navy O-6 suggested a different way of putting an MRF in DGAR in under 2 years, he nearly got his head handed to him because the NAVSEA sub code would hear of NOTHING but a new tender - for about almost a billion a copy.  So here we are 15 years later, there are no new tenders in the fleet and the one in DGAR is going to be kept around a lot longer (and is hybird crewed).   See what worked?

Where would you get $1 billion out of today's SCN?  That is about what an LPD17 costs?  Think the Marines would like that? That would be about two LCS - everbody favorite target, but then the fleet ends up short of the specific ships ADs are suppose to support, make sense?  The SCN is underfunded by anywhere from $4 to 7 billion depending on whose analysis one listens to (not mine).  Something has got to give.

BTW I have reactivated old Navy ships and converted them, it is a lot more expensive than you might think!

leesea said...

URR I agree with most of those analogies, but it is NOT I who is making the decisions aobut which to keep and which to let go.

In the case of amphibous lift capacity, I do know that the Marines decided that they wanted new LPDs with more payload and newer features.  Look what that go them - billion $$$ LPD17s.  BTW along with that the size and amounts of USMC tactical equipment and materials grew substantially, so "they" decided on newer and bigger ships.  BUT part of that was the Navy decision to reduce the number of ships in each ARG making each of those bigger and more expensive.  So both increased LIFT rqmts and "fancy" ship specs resulted in less hulls - IMHO.  Once again bringing that up to current, the Navy wants to use the expensive LPD17 hull modified to be the LSD(X).  Want to guess why I don't think that is cost effective?  Why not use the LSD-49 design?

UltimaRatioRegis said...


Your assessment of the Marines wanting newer and bigger amphibs is more than a little in error.  The Corps was told in no uncertain terms which ships were to be decommissioned, and told, essentially, that LPD-17 was going to replace the Austins.  Because the LPD-4s were not "cost effective" to operate.  I remember the discussions well.  "If all we are going to get is a three-ship ARG, they better be able to do the following.."  That is how all the fancy ship specs came about.

Hell, if the Marine Corps' druthers on amphibs design were given any weight at all, the LHA-6 woudl sure as hell have a well deck.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

"<span>I have reactivated old Navy ships and converted them, it is a lot more expensive than you might think!"</span>

So's an empty hole in the ocean where a capable hull should be, and so is a design from scratch hull to do the job of one that is being converted.

Grandpa Bluewater. said...


If you are talking about converting USN to USNS, for a tender that is another bad idea. Why waste big bucks converting berthing compartments into staterooms with individual heads. Just man it as a tender, with sailors. The dirty little secret is that sailors don't come cheap, but their labor is prepaid. Mariners on the other hand, will work any hours you want, at time and a half after the first 8, more on weekends.Then there is the cost of changing crews out 1 at a time, and the fact that they are not combatants. Not that it matters, until the enemy shows up.

 Updating Weapons Repair and the Electronics Shops will be a bit pricey, but the big ticket items will be just fixing the systems that never got repaired when the ship was in commission. Cheaper than new. 

The Usual Suspect said...

This all seems to go back to the valuable lessons of the General Board.  I wonder if any of the current FOGOs have bothered to read the book and study a little of their own history.  Sounds like it is time to reconvene a board and determine what kind of Navy we need, what we can afford, and what it is going to look like. As was mentioned earlier, this looks a lot like the 1930's out in the Pacific with the players slightly rearranged.  Of course, with ships like LCS, you really don't need tenders - they are either already tied up to the pier or will be a smoldering mass of sinking scrap after the first hit.

Anonymous said...

PROCESS  is our only PRODUCT.

leesea said...

URR yes there is always the ongoing debate as to who decides the number of amphibs needed, been going on for decades!   But having acutally sat down at table and heard what both Navy and Marines wanted in a ship, I have come to the following conclusion:

First Marines should NOT be allowed to design ships period.  They MUST accurately specify their LIFT rqmts and how those men & materials get ashore, but Marines are not good at either naval architecture nor at seeing the value in new systems for amphbiious ops e.g. the SSC is nothing more than an improved LCAC which uses a WW2 system the wet well dock.  You know my views of that in amphibs.   BTW LHAs are aviation centric ships which mainly are and should be used for troop lift and therefore do NOT need wet wells.

The NAVSEA should not  be allowed to design amphibs either without some heavy up-front adult leadership.  The overall design and installed systems that NAVSEA gets to suffer seriously from myopia!  The beltway bandits they use as design agents just reguritate old things dresssed up to look new.  I seriously doubt any NAVSEA produced AoA - Analysis of Alternatives for amphibs.

leesea said...

not necessarily a hole, IF one considers other methods to deploy and emply a mobile Maintence and Reparit Facility.   Here are two for instances:
Why does the ship have to be DEDICATED to ship repair only  (AD/AS model)?  How about putting a significant repair capability into a different hull form (AGP but bigger?  T-AVBs for ships, modified T-LKA yes there are two of them)?

Or the idea Think Defence and I floated about putting all the shops, storerooms, etc on barges lifted to needed location by a semi-submersible?

Or an improved version of an FMS Floating Machine Shop.

Or containerize as much as possibile (I realize all capabilities cannot be done some must organic to ship) and put those on modified Absalons or Berlin Type 702.

All of the above offer relatively cheaper and quicker means to improve forward afloat logistics capability - IMHO.

leesea said...

GPB, No I was suggesting different platforms to be used for mobile maintence forward.  More multi-role ships.  Who says the USN needs one or two M&R centiric tenders?  How about a half dozen "handy sized" battle damage repair ships?

And BTW I have converted USS to USNS and the big cost driver was NOT habitability mods (as we called them), it was FIXING all the systems which the USN had let go to pot and adding modern control systems to bridge and engineroom (or the hole in the hull which INSURV did not catch).  Ahh to say your characterizaton of MSC habitabiliy standards and paying system is inaccurate to say the least.  And also the SPAWARS gang wanted millitons to put in a new comm suite and military sensors etc.

I agree that sailors have the unique skill sets and specialized system knowledge to M&R warships - no argument.  They are "who" is needed forward to fix warships - that is need, how they get "there" and what they have to work with are the platform questions.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

To intimate that Marines designed LPD-17 or any other amphib is not accurate in the least. 

We will have to disagree on the utility and efficacy of a well deck. If you were CLF, you would most definitely feel differently.

Here is a usefu exercise.  Try positing a lightly opposed landing where the enemy has significant combat power near the beach head.  Say, 0.5 of blue forces.  You are landing 2.0 MEBs, and for argument's sake you have enough amphibious lift to get them into theater combat loaded.

Develop the following products:

Landing Plan

Serial Assignment Table

Fire Support Plan

Try it with a well deck capability, and without a well deck capability.   You will see my point.

leesea said...

pk, No in point of fact I am an old Gator sailor & Gamewarden who subsequently worked on many ship introduction projects

pk said...

in the past the bunch invested in floating whatevers. i remember a "valve barge". it was supposed to be passed from ship to ship when they came into the yard. after about the third "pass over" it started suffering from "ownership issues"(as in getting very thin on tools). nobody owned it so nobody took care of it.

i believe that there is a minimum size for a tender and whatever you call it needs the command structure and fleet recognition that a ship (even a small one) has. 

and why can't the sima/whatever build itself. during nam repair types (those that had experience in the steel building and electronics trades.........) were spotted as early as the recruiting evoloution, guided to tenders and tended to stay on them the entire hitch.

worked quite well.


leesea said...

I served on both CLF and Gators but not ones with wet wells.  Subsequently worked on APF & MPF ships and other Marine lift rqmts (tactical equip and ammo), and with III MEF on HSV WPE.

Let's start with lift ship assumptions?  Two MEBs mean one ARG plus either another onr (not a freqenty event but should be) or one MPS squadron.  The later gives the Marines 30 DOS.   LPD/LSDs might have enough landing craft, but will probably need INLS and other lighterage from MPS to get all gear ashore?   I see more routine ARG + MPS ops than multiple ARGs but that is just an observation.  ARGs have cross decked cargo to enhanced MPS rons already.  So I assumed that configuration is more likely?  Debatable of course, in a build up to your posited operation multiple ARGs could well be repositioned to theater.

LPD + LSD get first two or three waves into beach IF weather cooperates AND no landing craft are lost due to hostile action/matl problems, need to include standoff distance in that calculation.

I did NOT assume in the above that you were bringing the "GRAMMs are show-stoppers" argument into play. Intelligence might tell us if weapons like ASMs were in opposition hands.

LHA, or LHD, would need good weather and most a/c full up.  F-35B might help in future.  Helos and Ospreys are only source for inland CAS assuming DDGs etc are not in the ARG as usual.  But build up might allow time for other warships to support

I guess what I did not make clear is that its the current design of wet wells which are part of their limitations.  Why not have wider amphibs to carry more landing craft or semi-submersible LSDs to launch athwartship, or a Flo/Flo to lift many more landing craft along?  More connectors who help if ARG had to be split up?  Better lighterage would help if the ARG had to standoff shore further for whatever reason.  You are not going to get all those other vessels "there" with existing wet well designs would take another ARG meaning one is up to MEF size platform assets.

The really questionable part is how many "other" warships are going to play in these scenario?  What kind of "Battle Network" might appear?  How many other aircarft might become available?  Etc etc.

Above is just off the top of my head got to work on another ARG (+ LCS) comment.

UltimaRatioRegis said...


My CLF=Commander of the Landing Force.

Which means this:  My first and most compelling argument is for the fastest and most efficient possible buildup of combat power ashore. 

So back to the exercise:  

Build your assault waves, scheduled waves, unscheduled waves, and on-call waves.

For that, a wet well deck is indispensible. Do the calculations with well decks, and without them.

If I can't get that far, the rest of it, including MPFRON and "battle networks", are purely academic.

Rapid buildup of combat power ashore.  It is everything. 

First things first.

Grandpa Bluewater. said...

It may not be a big cost driver in the conversion, but not converting is a big cost saver. Even those cute little share a bath two stateroom modules are pricey compared to leave it alone.

Air fare to replace the crew while deployed is not cheap, nor is the night in the hotel upon arrival and prior to departure and the cab fare to the airport. which by Union contract everybody gets - Ordinary Seament to Captain. The Navy via the contracted shipping company pays a goodly amount to the Union for the Union administered vacation pay, and the pension and health insurance and continuing education the union provides. That's for contract labor.  CivMars are civil service. Per capita they don't come cheap, either.

The big selling point is the reduced crew size. What doesn't get mentioned is the reduced operational flexability.  Giving the engine room watch 30 minutes notice of a speed change, after the Captain and the Engineer confer before giving permission is not a Navy concept.  It's not universal with merchant mariners, but its not that uncommon either, particularly on old steam plants (Cape Ro-Ro's for example). Then the loss of survivablity - Atlantic Conveyor ring a bell? - is a factor, as is the need to provide IDC rated Corpsmen when a MilDet is required, and the need for Naval Armed Guards.

The fact that Force Material Officers found reasons to starve Auxiliaries in order to keep combatants deployable and reasonably combat worthy is nothing I would dispute, but it's a bad business.  Throwing away the capabilities that the Auxiliaries is far worse, but that's current policy, and MSC does a real service to the Navy and the Nation by keeping those ship's going. Anything that keeps a capablitity available and a ship away from the breakers is fine with me.

leesea said...

Well its a tradeoff, transportation cost to repatriate individual mariners (if needed) from overseas versus driving the whole sailor-crewed ship back to CONUS.  At about $75k per day, I think you should realize the numbers favor the merchant marine method which has worked for many decades.  HABMODS back in '90s were $3 to 5 mil per AFS/AE.

Reduced crew size yes and NO PERSTEMPO restirctions.  MSC NFAF ships on average are gone 65% of the time and underway 85%.  Would not happen with a USS.

Atlantic Conveyor is a red herring especially when compared to NFAF or specialized sealift ships operated to higher standards (crew, DC, FP, C4I) AND not loaded so as to blow up (fuel tanktainers on deck next to ammo laden helos~).  But you are right something disasterous could happen.  And the results would probably be similar whether ship was sailor or mariner crewed.

Agree 100% about the need to re-establish the Naval Amred Guards but not many naval officers have agreed to that idea (which worked then and can work now).  About to do a long post on EagleSpeak.

What is it the Navy is losing: operational experience with mobile logistics - yes.  More seatime for sailor - yes.  Need sailors on warships.  I know mariners who brag about fixing the old dogs that get transferred to MSC - sometimes it takes years. MSC engineers are on hybrid crewed ships and a few amphibs now to "fix" those engineering plants.

Grandpa Bluewater. said...

We can hope that the best of the new caught 0ne Stars adopt the practice, five to eight years later, they're ready. =-O

Not that there will ever be another war.  The last one was the Last One, right?

Sigh.  Why do folks never catch wise?

leesea said...

URR roger getting the most number of Marines over the beach to the LZ inland is primary objective. Mostly they fly off big decks. Next is getting most amount of tactical equipment and needed supplies (POL, ammo, provisions) ashore.  The heavy haulers for that is LCUs (old and need replacement).  The speedy LCACs move big tonnage needed upshore soonest like tanks and LAVs etc.  How many spots for landing craft in each ARG?  (will look that up but guessing about 10 or 12 large spots).  Building up the wave numbers of course depends on how much is needed ashore in this lightly opposed scenario.  Perhaps two assault waves.

LCACs and LCUs out firs then AAVPs all in first wave then the landing craft HAVE return to go back into the wet well to be reloaded that takes turn around time (ship to shore to ship) I presume you are talkind about in terms of throughput tonnage.  Will check the Marine numbers for this scenario.

Ahh and now the million dollar question?:  IF for whatever reason (machinery CASREP, extreme weather, or combat damage) the wet well system can not be used,,,, how is the cargo inside the amphibs space to be offloaded to go ashore?  What is Plan B.  Modern amphib have very little cargo gear for discharge by Lo/Lo method.  Can't fly tanks etc.  You can breakdown ammo etc on to pallets for helo lift so those birds will be flying more.

A little more number checking back to you on Monday.

Grandpa Bluewater. said...

It's a peace time alternative, cold war assumed to never go hot at best. USN to USNS conversion that is. Well it cuts overhead. Heard it.

A Navy is all overhead. Until the shooting starts. But in between commencement of hostilities and Mobilization (including Industrial Mobilization) is the period when you lose engagements because readiness for unrestricted air and sea warfare is something that most civilians and a lot of peacetime logistics and training active duty folks can't get their heads wrapped around, so it gradually wastes away.

The price, inevitably, is sailor's blood. We've had a 50+ plus year peace on the blue water ocean since Leyte, but Fukayama's Folly has
eaten it away, and the Obama Administration's spendthrift binge will kill it right soon now.

There is no realistic naval threat for at least a decade ahead. That was the Royal Navy's estimate in 1920, and it didn't change as a planning or funding postulate until 1938. We will do the same. Because, you see, we have no strategy, and no strategists, and no understanding that we lack either.

The number one priority of the Navy is racial balancing of numbers and promotions by statistical edict?  God help us.

If we did, the last 20 years would have been VERY different. QED.

sid said...

Atlantic Conveyor is a red herring</span>

No leesea....

It proves your notion of "civilianizing" a navy is just downright suboptimal

<span>MSC engineers are on hybrid crewed ships and a few amphibs now to "fix" those engineering plants.</span>

Thats because a generation of SWOs forgot they are sailors first and foremost.

Its still a quite SUBOPTIMAL solution.

Because it further erodes the culture of a seagoing military organization that is supposed to exist to win wars...

Not provide a social engineering petri dish.

sid said...

<span>And the results would probably be similar whether ship was sailor or mariner crewed.  </span>

Because you have a generation of SWOs who do not understnad that if you want ships to survive, you don't go for the most exotic hull shapes, speed, etc....

And lets revisit the <span>USN</span> crewed USS Alchiba...

Shall we?

sid said...

<span>This all seems to go back to the valuable lessons of the General Board.</span>

CDR Keuhn discusses at length the focus how the inter-war General Board focused heavily on the logistics and support infrastructure to support expeditionary efforts across the pacific...And how that was instrumental in the defeat of the Japanese....

Of course, you have to have a coherent Strategic construct that survives the sharp zigs and zags which accompanies the CoC of each CNO

And a willingness to take back procurement decisions that only cleave to the big contractors' product lines.

And quit thinking we MUST buy their weak offerings, suboptimal or no.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

"<span>getting the most number of Marines over the beach to the LZ inland is primary objective. Mostly they fly off big decks. Next is getting most amount of tactical equipment and needed supplies (POL, ammo, provisions) ashore.  The heavy haulers for that is LCUs (old and need replacement)."</span>

<span>Well, no.  That may look neat in wargames, but an amphibious assault is not simply a vertical envelopment from a ship.  That is only a part, and at times a SMALL part, of an amphibious assault.  The assault waves come ashore in AAVs.  Followed closely by whatever COMBAT POWER is needed. Not simply the largest number of Marines, but LAVs, tanks, artillery, air defense assets. And truck beds full of fuel, ammunition, water, etc. 

Again, try the landing plan.  The serial assignment table.  The ship-to-shore movement schedule.  The vertical and assault asset utilization table.

leesea said...

I clearly pointed out both troop lift by a/c and cargo lift by landing craft.  Specifically AAVs, LCACs and LCUs w/LAVs out of the wet well.  What kind of "Combat Power"  are you referring to the aircraft from the big decks?  ok but they are not part of landing force.  The CG/DDG guns for NSFS which is a whole 'nuther topic for debate? 

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Combat power is all the combined and supporting arms that are organic to the Expeditionary Brigade. 

The well deck is an indispensible capability in getting that stuff ashore.  No two ways about it.  And it is the Commander, Landing Force that dictates the pace and nature of unloading, based on his combat requirements ashore.

The Usual Suspect said...

Future of LCS...

Grandpa Bluewater. said...

I wouldn't feel all that great. The shipbreakers inTexas are selling off machine shop stuff from the tenders going to the breakers on the net. Care to bid on a BIG lathe?