Rear Adm. Mike Zarkowski, Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers, thanks Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic artisans for their commitment to mission.

Teamwork major theme at FRCMA NSS kickoff

Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic (FRCMA) recently ushered in a new way of doing business that will better equip the fleet and increase readiness now and in the future with the kickoff of its local Naval Sustainment System initiative at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, April 30.

NSS is an approach which implements industry best practices and addresses all elements of aviation maintenance—people, parts and processes—to make permanent changes that increase aircraft readiness and lethality. With Navy senior leadership’s directive to produce 341 mission capable Super Hornets by Oct. 1, NSS initial focus is on the F/A-18E/Fs and will scale across all other type/model/series aircraft.

Addressing flag officers, industry partners and military maintenance personnel, Vice Adm. Dean Peters, Commander, Naval Air Systems Command, started the day thanking industry partner the Boston Consulting Group for getting Naval Aviation to “look beyond our own fence line.” He acknowledged the similarities between commercial maintenance, repair and overall (MRO) facilities and the Navy’s.

“BCG came into FRC Southwest last fall and implemented industry best practices to improve flow and throughput, and as a result, the issue priority group ones (unfilled high priority requisitions) have decreased significantly.”

Peters also pointed out the reduced turnaround time for planned maintenance interval (PMI) aircraft at FRC West with the implementation of industry best practices. “This is good news for our fleet operators,” he said.

Mid-Atlantic is the third FRC to implement NSS, and the second site to focus on PMI work. Having already put in place “lessons learned” from FRC West (FRCW), leadership and artisans at FRCMA are ahead of the game, according to Rear Adm. Mike Zarkowski, Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC).

“Humility and teamwork are essential to obtaining gains from NSS. We are a team with [our industry partner] BCG, and we at COMFRC are a team with our artisans. It is my job to make sure our artisans have the best tools, best equipment and the engineering processes in place to do their jobs.”

BCG representative, Brian Hirschman, agreed with Zarkowski.  “Readiness is the ultimate team sport,” he said. “Rear Adm. Zarkowski can run the best [Maintenance, Repair Overhaul organization], but he needs the supplies and the engineering as well,” he explained. “That’s what the NSS accomplishes—the elements of readiness, working together, as a team, focused on the common NSS goal of obtaining the highest quality, lowest cost and shortest cycle-time.”

FRCW revamped its PMI line under the guidance of BCG representatives last winter.

Capt. Bret Washburn, FRCW Commanding Officer, told the audience that the process can be painful, and change is not easy, but the improvements at the command strengthened his confidence in the future of naval aviation readiness and solidly established FRCW’s role in this effort.

Following the kick-off briefs, attendees got a firsthand look at NSS improvements on F/A-18 Super Hornet maintenance during a tour of FRCMA’s hangars.  One improvement, for example, is a document and status board located at the front of each aircraft to track open action items and days to completion. 

Attendees also had an opportunity to tour the Aircraft on Ground (AOG), a facility, located at Commander, Naval Air Forces Atlantic Fleet (CNAL), in Norfolk, Virginia. Another element of NSS focused on building efficiencies and long-term collaboration among partners, AOG gathers all lines of available support into one site enabling decision makers to quickly resolve constraints of short-term down aircraft.     

Zarkowski concluded the kickoff by speaking with FRCMA artisans, explaining the upcoming changes to processes and how NSS will support their role in producing readiness. “The artisan is a surgeon, and like a surgeon, you will have the tools you need to work on aircraft right in front of you,” he said. “You are closer to the fleet than anyone, and your commitment to the mission is critical. Our fleet needs you; our warfighters need you.”

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