By Dave Desilets, Naval Sea Systems Command Public Affairs
In presenting the 2003 Commander-in-Chief's Installation of Excellence Award to Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) yesterday, Vice Adm. Phillip M. Balisle lauded "the yard of the future" efforts as the very
things necessary to build 21st century naval readiness.
Speaking to all hands at NNSY during the award presentation, the Commander of Naval Sea Systems Command also noted that their achievements are much in line with the concept of where the country's yards need to be as One Shipyard for the Nation. He summarized how the shipyard construct harnesses that very excellence, "Our job is to instill the successes in the mindset of our people, so we can go anywhere with the best talent."
In detailing some of what earned NNSY's installation excellence, Balisle credited streamlining efforts to become the "shipyard of the future." Among the award-winning attributes, NNSY has reduced its footprint, modernized its equipment and integrated its facilities through Lean Assessment principles.
These initiatives and others led to NNSY reducing operating costs to the tune of $22.5 million in savings over two fiscal years.
During his remarks, the admiral commented on NNSY's creation of 14 Regional Repair Centers (RRCs), through teaming with SIMA (Shore Intermediate Maintenance Activity) Norfolk, providing approximate annual savings of more than $21 million. The RRCs have improved fleet maintenance while
reducing overhead and integrating highly skilled military and civilian workforce.
Balisle also spoke of another teaming by NNSY, when the yard joined
Northrop Grumman Newport News
in readying the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) for sea and acceptance trials. "The contractor said it needed additional electricians during construction, so we sent over about 20 people from Norfolk Naval Shipyard
. The nation needed that carrier at sea, and you did it...your people were there."
Discussing the concept of One Shipyard for the Nation, Balisle noted that NNSY and the other public and private yards have already been doing many of the things that the national yard construct is about. He highlighted the example of the USS John F. Kennedy's (CV 67) extended selected restricted availability in Mayport, Fla. employing more than 130 NNSY personnel per day and additional others from yards across four states. He remarked that it was this kind of flexible and mobile workforce response from the nation's shipyards that is needed to maintain and build the Navy's culture of readiness.
In readying the fleet, he emphasized the importance of "doing that critical, fundamental maintenance" so ships will be ready 10 and 20 years from now. "I think the role of this shipyard in this national, industrial base, is going to be even more vital in that kind of operating world than it is today. We cannot let the maintenance of these ships create a hollow force. Never let us build that hollow force for the future!"
Balisle told NNSY personnel that changes in how the Navy readies its fleets, and their role in that readiness building, is directly tied to how the sea service is going to employ its forces under the Fleet Response Plan
(FRP). He said that FRP is how the Navy is going to institutionalize its successful response during Operations Iraq Freedom (OIF) and the previous Enduring Freedom. And that the Norfolk public yard's service to country is needed ton ready FRP.
On setting fleet readiness and response on the heels of OIF, he told NNSY, "We have to find a way to turn that force around, to re-cock it, much, much faster than we have done. The challenge now is even greater, because we have two things we have to do: turn ships around when we have to get them ready or get them on the point, and make sure we're doing that critical, fundamental maintenance." He added that NNSY "gives us responsiveness" to meet those challenges, calling shipyard workers "patriots
Balisle explained that readying the Navy for the Nation's next call to arms will require changes in how the fleet, the waterfront and yards conduct maintenance. He said FRP would require process and planning adjustments
under One Shipyard to maximize yard assets in a national response to the
global war against terrorism.
"We have serious work ahead. The leadership of this Navy and the
of this country are depending on us. I am absolutely confident you will
produce the ships the nation needs, on the terms the nation needs them,
you will do it to the very best of your ability."
In summary, he said, "In the global war on terror, there is a time when
men and women on the point have the watch, and there is a time when you
I have the watch. I believe we're at that time."
: Merrill Baines and Steve Milner of Norfolk Naval
also contributed to this article.