Expanding the Advantage to Preserve Peace

VADM Thomas Moore
U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command
Washington, DC

From NP&FP, Annual 2020 Issue

Vice Admiral Thomas Moore became the 44th commander of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) on June 10, 2016. As NAVSEA commander, he oversees a global workforce of more than 83,000 military and civilian personnel responsible for the development, delivery and maintenance of the Navy’s ships, submarines and systems.

As a surface nuclear trained officer for 13 years, VADM Moore served in various operational and engineering billets aboard USS South Carolina (CGN 37) as machinery division officer, reactor training assistant and electrical officer; USS Virginia (CGN 38) as main propulsion assistant; USS Conyngham (DDG 17) as weapons officer, and USS Enterprise (CVN 65) as the #1 plant station officer responsible for the de-fueling, refueling and testing of the ship’s two lead reactor plants during her 1991-1994 refueling complex overhaul (RCOH). Additionally, ashore he served two years as a company officer at the United States Naval Academy. In 1994, he was selected for lateral transfer to the engineering duty officer community where he served in various staff engineering, maintenance, technical and program management positions including: carrier overhaul project officer at the Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia, where he led the overhaul of the USS Enterprise (CVN 65), USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and the first year of the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) RCOH; assistant program manager for In-Service Aircraft Carriers (PMS 312) in the office of the Program Executive Officer, Aircraft Carriers, Aircraft Carrier Hull, Mechanical and Electrical (HM&E) requirements officer on the staff of the chief of naval operations Air Warfare Division (OPNAV N78); and, five years in command as the Major Program manager for In-Service Aircraft Carriers (PMS 312) where he was responsible for the new construction of the George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), the RCOH of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) and the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and the life cycle management of all In-Service Aircraft Carriers. In April 2008, he reported to the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations as the deputy director, Fleet Readiness, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) N43B. From May 2010 to July 2011, he served as the director, Fleet Readiness, OPNAV N43. Moore commanded the Program Executive Office for Aircraft Carriers from August 11, 2011 to June 1, 2016. Over this five year period, he led the largest ship acquisition program in the US Navy portfolio; was responsible for designing, building, testing and delivering Ford-class carriers; led the Navy’s first-ever inactivation of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise (CVN-65); and was the lead in the US-India Joint Working Group Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation.

VADM Moore, NAVSEA Commander, spoke recently with NP&FP, regarding focus areas for NAVSEA heading into 2020 and ways the command is addressing current and future challenges.

NP&FP: What are some of NAVSEA’s current priorities?

VADM Moore: NAVSEA’s priorities are threefold – on-time delivery of ships and submarines to the fleet, improve the warfighting capability of our ships and systems, and cybersecurity. These align with Chief of Naval Operations Mike Gilday’s top priorities [Warfighting, Warfighter, Building the Next Navy] and align directly with Navy and national strategies outlined in the National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy. With 80 percent of the world’s population living in coastal regions; 90 percent of our commerce relying on open sea lanes for successful global trade; and 99 percent of our internet traffic traveling through undersea cables, the national defense and economic prosperity of our nation are facilitated only through a strong and capable Navy.

NAVSEA’s fundamental responsibility is provide our fleet commanders with the capabilities required to deter aggression, defeat our enemies in combat, and provide humanitarian support in times of crisis. To execute the Navy’s mission, we need forward-deployed ships and we need to be on-station around the globe 24-7-365 with the requisite capabilities, lethality, and mobility.

That’s why NAVSEA’s number one mission is the on-time delivery of ships and submarines. In 1992, we had a fleet of about 600 ships and of that number about 100 were deployed at any one time. Today, we have 290 ships of which about 80 are deployed or underway on any given day – so the demand signal is still high, but we have fewer ships at our disposal. The fleet relies on us to deliver ships, either from new construction or from their maintenance periods with a reliable level of capability and quality so those assets are delivered and ready to relieve those ships returning from deployment and, in turn, making space for the next ship in line. At any given time, approximately 40 percent of the Navy’s ships and submarines are under NAVSEA’s control, undergoing either short- or long-term maintenance. Optimizing our planning, our workflows, and our supply chains are primary areas of focus, but increasing the training, innovation and competence of our workforce and optimizing our contracting and collaboration with our industry partners are areas of critical importance in meeting this goal.

NAVSEA’s second priority speaks directly to the capability of the fleet and that is to increase the warfighting capability of our ships and systems. That means increasing the rate at which we deliver new, more capable ships; it means modernizing the ships we already have to improve their capability and extend their service lives; and it means harnessing emerging reliable and secure artificial intelligence-enabled tools. Increasing the training and sophistication of our Sailors and our industry partners goes hand-in-hand with this priority, and enables us to capture and incorporate innovations and new capabilities, increase the ship and system reliabilities and to take advantage of state-of-the art model-based engineering in our future designs.

Many of our current threats come not from the sea or the air, but through our increasingly complex cyber environment. Our adversaries employ increasingly complex techniques to deny, disrupt, disable, or cause physical and economic damage to U.S. infrastructure and capabilities via electronic attacks. Our priority is to protect the systems we deliver from cyberattacks and to ensure we maintain the ability to detect, restore and restore those systems to their full capability. To achieve this, we are increasing our collective knowledge of cybersecurity threats and tools, while integrating affordable cybersecurity solutions into current and future products.

NP&FP: How are you addressing readiness?

VADM Moore: With roughly 40 percent of the battleforce undergoing maintenance at any one time, the primary way NAVSEA addresses readiness is by delivering these ships on-time and ready for national tasking.

NAVSEA conducts most of the maintenance on our aircraft carriers and submarines at one of our four public Naval Shipyards. Our surface ships receive maintenance at private shipyards that are overseen by NAVSEA’s Regional Maintenance Centers. Since 2010, we’ve seen the workload in our Naval Shipyards grow by 25 percent. To meet that demand, NAVSEA grew its workforce from 27,368 full time employees in 2010 to 36,100 in 2018 – which was actually one year earlier than we expected. While the workforce has expanded to meet the workload, retirements and new hires resulted in an inexperienced workforce where 50 percent of the workforce has less than five years of experience, a significant challenge to overcome because of the complex nature of the work. To address this challenge NAVSEA is transforming how we train new employees, using both virtual learning tools and hands-on work. The shipyard’s “safe-to-fail” training areas not only offer new employees practical experience that avoid costly equipment replacements and work delays, NAVSEA’s artisans also experiment with innovative techniques to improve work processes and save time during an availability.

On the private shipyard side, we face a number of challenges and are implementing several practical initiatives to help both reduce the cost and schedule for surface ship maintenance and provide our industry partners with the stability and predictability they need to succeed. The Navy is preparing the second Long-Range Plan for Maintenance and Modernization of Naval Vessels. This plan will enable us to forecast maintenance workloads for all in-service ship classes for the next 30 years. Not only will identify shortfalls in the industrial base, it will provide our industry partners base with stable and predictable workloads and allow them to manage the required capital equipment and technical workforce necessary to keep our fleet fit.

We’re also modifying how we contract for surface ship maintenance. Traditionally, we would award a contract 60 days before the ship is due to start its availability. We want to provide the companies more time to prepare for the work, so we’re working to award 120 days before the planned start. This allows more time to order long-lead items and ensure they’re staffed at the right level. For the Navy, it helps ensure the ship delivers on-time at no additional cost.

We’re also working to minimize the amount of work the Navy adds to an availability once we start the maintenance work. Through studying past availabilities, we’ve determined that if we add new work to an availability late in the process, when 60 percent of the initial work package is complete, we will not be able to deliver on-time. Now, to add work into an on-going availability we require flag officer concurrence to ensure all stakeholders agree with decision and to lay out any potential schedule impacts.

Workload stability is a key schedule and cost driver for our industry partners – the more stable and predictable the workload, the more they’re able to submit competitive bids, retain their trained artisans, and therefore complete availabilities on time. With that in mind, we’re looking to bundle ships together into single competitively-awarded contracts.

Along those same contracting lines, in most recent contracting agreements we’ve included pre-priced changes, so that when an emergent requirement expands the scope of the contract, the work is not stopped while awaiting a contract modification.

NP&FP: What future initiatives are you focused on?

VADM Moore: We are taking a holistic approach to ensuring both our public and private yards have the information, people, and equipment needed to maintain the world’s greatest Navy. We will continue to work with Congress and our industry partners to address our challenges and to efficiently maintain and modernize the Navy’s growing fleet.

Two areas deserve particular attention in this area are technology and infrastructure. We are now testing innovative technology that will improve our maintenance processes. Cold spray is a great example. This technology sprays metal powders at high velocity that mechanically bonds to a surface. The result is a high-performance coating that can be machined to very tight tolerances. Now, we can take older components – valves for instance – and instead of buying new ones or sending them out for an expensive refurbishment we can spray them, machine them to the right level, and reuse the component. This saves money and reduces the cycle time to replace or repair certain parts. Another innovative program uses hull-crawling robots to carry a variety of test equipment and conduct hull inspections, non-destructive testing and biofouling removal. Not only does this remove the need for scaffolding or lifting equipment, it offers the potential to reduce dry docking periods by up to two weeks and improve the level of safety for our people.

The Navy is dedicated to modernizing its four shipyards and is now in its second year of the planned 20-year, $21 billion Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP) that will deliver 21st century shipyards to the Navy. The four Naval Shipyards were designed to support building ships of sail and coal. Today, they maintain the Navy’s nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines. While these facilities have been adapted for today’s work, their original architecture remains. SIOP will reconfigure each shipyard to improve productivity through infrastructure improvements, the recapitalization of outmoded equipment while also executing required dry dock maintenance and upgrades needed to support the next-generations submarines and aircraft carriers.

In SIOP’s initial two years, the Navy has started a series of projects and begun the delivery of new capital equipment across the four shipyards.

For Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PHNSY&IMF), we delivered 150-ton heavy lift transporters to support Virginia Class availabilities. More importantly, the Navy and its industry partner tracked every aspect of the recent USS Asheville (SSN 758) maintenance availability to build a “digital twin” of the shipyard. This dynamic virtual shipyard will enable the Navy to manipulate data and measure the impact of moving certain shops and work spaces to different areas within the existing footprint. The Navy will use this data to reimagine the shipyard to improve productivity, safety, and the quality of life of our shipyard personnel. PHNSY&IMF will also be the first shipyard to receive a Dry Dock Production Facility (DDPF) which, as currently envisioned, will enclose multiple dry docks and move much of the production work to the waterfront. The Navy plans to award the DDPF construction contract in fiscal year 2023.

Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS&IMF) will be the second naval shipyard to have a digital twin built. To ensure the Navy properly understands the complex workflow, it will track both an aircraft carrier and submarine availability. Work started on this effort on Oct. 14, and we expect final delivery in Fall 2020. PSNS&IMF received the first 55-ton mobile crane this year which will allow the shipyard to more effectively execute maintenance work.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) replaced an obsolete and maintenance-intensive lathe with a computer operated Horizontal Turning Center. The center will improve productivity at PNSY and reduces the maintenance burden on our workforce. Work has also begun on Dry Dock #1 in preparation for refueling selected Los Angeles Class Submarine submarines. Efforts include building a super flood basin and a building designed to support Los Angeles Class service life extension work. The Navy anticipates starting PNSY’s digital twin study in early 2020.
Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) has seen a number of Military Construction efforts begin or deliver in the past year. We re-opened the renovated Waterfront Operations Support Facility (Building 1735) located near Pier 3 last July. This two-story structure houses 15 shop spaces and allows for work to be executed near the ships, which reduces travel time and increases efficiency. On the same day, the Navy broke ground on a new Production Training Facility that will host most of the training classes and shops for the entire shipyard. Further, the Navy awarded a contract in September to build a new defueling and inactivation complex that will replace a 25-year old facility. The new M-140 Complex will alleviate frequent required repair work and support the increase in submarine inactivations planned for the 2020s.

The Navy also awarded a contract for a horizontal boring mill for NNSY’s Navy Foundry and Propeller Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to support Columbia Class (SSBN) and Virginia Class (SSN) propulsor manufacturing. NNSY took possession of a Bridge Mill which replaces two obsolete and less effective machines to support aircraft carrier and submarine shaft, rudder, and fairwater plane work. The Navy plans to begin NNSY’s digital twin effort in early 2020.