FLEET READINESS CENTER EAST

~ Service to the Fleet ~

Since 1943, Fleet Readiness Center East aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, has played an important part in national defense.  Our workforce has earned a reputation of excellence in providing world-class maintenance, engineering and logistics support for Navy and Marine Corps aviation, as well as other armed services, federal agencies and foreign governments. Our skilled workforce uses state-of-the-art technology to ensure that FRCE is without equal in providing quality, cost-effective support. Our employees take great pride in their work, and this professional spirit is evident in the high-quality products they produce.

Our mission is to maintain and operate facilities for and perform a complete range of depot level rework operations on designated weapon systems, accessories, and equipment; manufacture parts and assemblies as required; provide engineering services in the development of changes of hardware design; furnish technical services on aircraft maintenance and logistic problems; and perform, upon specific request or assignment, other levels of aircraft maintenance.

FLEET READINESS CENTER EAST

~ Service to the Fleet ~

Since 1943, Fleet Readiness Center East aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, has played an important part in national defense.  Our workforce has earned a reputation of excellence in providing world-class maintenance, engineering and logistics support for Navy and Marine Corps aviation, as well as other armed services, federal agencies and foreign governments. Our skilled workforce uses state-of-the-art technology to ensure that FRCE is without equal in providing quality, cost-effective support. Our employees take great pride in their work, and this professional spirit is evident in the high-quality products they produce.

Our mission is to maintain and operate facilities for and perform a complete range of depot level rework operations on designated weapon systems, accessories, and equipment; manufacture parts and assemblies as required; provide engineering services in the development of changes of hardware design; furnish technical services on aircraft maintenance and logistic problems; and perform, upon specific request or assignment, other levels of aircraft maintenance.

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Feb 1, 2024

FRCE Mentor of the Year finds joy in helping others

Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE) recognized one of its leaders as Mentor of the Year for their dedication to helping others in a ceremony held Jan. 30.

The command recognized Christopher Day, who serves as director of the Engines and Dynamic Components and Industrial Processes divisions, as the depot’s top mentor. Day’s special talent for educating his fellow employees and commitment to continual improvement earned him the title, leaders said.

Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) Production Department Head Tina Rowe, Day’s supervisor, said he is exceptionally equipped to be a mentor as he clearly enjoys helping others.

“Chris shows real dedication to his mentees, and vice versa,” said Rowe. “He didn’t become a mentor for personal gain; he became a mentor because he truly loves helping his coworkers succeed. He is the type of supervisor everyone wants to have.

“Chris genuinely cares about his fellow employee’s growth and will do everything he can to help them along their journey here at FRC East,” Rowe continued. “He will stop whatever he is doing to help someone with a challenging situation. For that, I believe he is very deserving of this recognition.”

Day said he was honored by the recognition, which came as quite a surprise to him.

“When I learned I was selected for this recognition, I was shell shocked,” said Day. “I wouldn’t have expected someone to nominate me. I’m overwhelmed with the thought that someone took the time to do this for me.”

Day began his career at FRCE repairing AV-8 aircraft engines 24 years ago; he has been in his current position for a little under a year. While he officially became a mentor when Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) launched a formal mentoring program in 2007, Day said passing along helpful information to those coming into a new position has always come naturally to him. The mentors he had toward the beginning of his career instilled this in him and were a key factor in both why and how he became a mentor himself.

“When I first became a work leader, I had some great mentors. They spent hours helping to develop me into a leader. I think because of that, mentoring came naturally to me,” said Day. “I’ve always been interested in helping others and I’ve always extended a hand to those in need because if I can help, let me know. Come to my office and we can talk.”

According to Matthew Sinsel, head of both the Manufacturing, Machining and Welding Branch and the Clean and Paint Branch, Day is the type of mentor who is always willing to lend a helping hand, especially if it will aid in his mentee’s success. This made Sinsel’s decision to nominate Day for this award easy.

“Chris goes above and beyond. He is committed to helping others reach their full potential and be the best versions of themselves,” said Sinsel. “He is a good listener, provides constructive, non-judgmental feedback and is both passionate and enthusiastic about his role as a mentor. He demonstrates a positive outlook that inspires others to work harder.”

Sinsel said he nominated Day for Mentor of the Year because he has witnessed Day’s mentorship help many others, himself included, on countless occasions. Working with Day has provided him with numerous shadowing opportunities that have been beneficial to his job performance and improvement, he said.

“Chris’ reassurance and positive feedback kept me on the right track to make a positive impact,” said Sinsel. “His mentorship allowed me to challenge myself, work to broaden my knowledge and better understand NAVAIR’s mission.”

For Day, being recognized as Mentor of the Year is not the most fulfilling part of being a mentor; instead, he feels the real reward is simply knowing the information he provided to someone helped them along their journey.

“When someone realizes the information you gave them was of great value, and they come back and say how much it actually helped them, that is what being a mentor is all about,” said Day. “Simply knowing that one short conversation you had with that person will resonate with them for the rest of their career is rewarding. It is very gratifying.”

FRCE is North Carolina's largest maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider, with more than 4,000 civilian, military and contract workers. Its annual revenue exceeds $1 billion. The depot provides service to the fleet while functioning as an integral part of the greater U.S. Navy; Naval Air Systems Command; and Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers.

Jan 31, 2024

FRCE provides local students with exciting learning opportunities

The Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE) STEM Outreach Team recently visited a local middle school to give students hands-on exposure to tools and techniques they may encounter if they pursue a technical career field.

FRCE visited Grover C. Fields Middle School in New Bern Jan. 17 with two goals: providing engaging educational resources to sixth through eighth grade students in the Academically and Intellectually Gifted (AIG) program, and assisting teachers in developing technology-based lessons.

According to FRCE Innovation Lead Randall Lewis, the hope is that providing these resources will inspire students to consider careers in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field.

“By giving students this exposure, we are able to enhance their education and open their minds to new possibilities,” said Lewis. “Not only is STEM-based education an important part of their curriculum, but it could also play an important factor in their future. FRC East has a large and growing workforce, many of which are STEM professionals, so having outreach events is very important.”

The FABLAB, a mobile makerspace, makes these hands-on lessons possible. The self-contained unit is a 32-foot-long, 8-foot-wide enclosed trailer equipped with devices used in the STEM field, but not commonly found in most classrooms. The equipment includes 3D printers, a laser engraver, laptops and circuit boards. The unique features of the FABLAB provide students with learning opportunities different than the lessons they might receive in a traditional classroom environment. The FABLAB primarily serves students within a 100-mile radius of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and is often seen at schools and local events.

David Rackley, an AIG program teacher for Grover C. Fields Middle School, said he finds the FABLAB to be a beneficial tool for students. He said he enjoys using STEM lessons in the classroom as it can open the students’ minds to new career paths and ideas.

“I love these events. I enjoy seeing the students do things they don’t normally do because it helps them learn and grow,” said Rackley. “I bring the FABLAB in so the students get those experiences with things they normally would not have in the classroom.”

Rackley said not only do the students enjoy these outreach events, but it also encourages them to pursue careers in the STEM field.

“They love it. When they hear FABLAB, they are more interested in the FABLAB than they are in coming to my class,” said Rackley. “And in middle school, they don’t really know what they want to do career-wise. That’s one of the reasons we do this kind of thing, so we can give them that experience.”

During the event, FABLAB Lead Engineer Christopher Rivera and electrical engineer Zach Shuler introduced the students to the fundamentals of fixed wing flight with foam gliders. The students assembled the foam gliders and performed a series of tests on the center of gravity to find optimal flight stability. Rivera said seemingly simple activities like this can spur a lifelong interest in a student.

“My favorite part about this job – primarily in terms of outreach – is introducing something new to a student,
especially when it’s not something they would have ever encountered in their life, or didn’t think they’d be interested in,” said Rivera. “Seeing the students enjoy something they’ve never encountered before, or didn’t know existed, has been incredibly rewarding.” 

FRCE K-12 Educational Outreach Coordinator Michelle Smith serves an important role within the depot’s outreach initiatives. Prior to her FRCE career, Smith taught STEM classes to middle school students. Now, she coordinates with teachers to ensure the FABLAB activities correlate with the students’ curriculums.

“It’s important for the FABLAB activities to support the curriculum the teachers are already following,” said Smith. “Our outreach team does an outstanding job creating informative and enjoyable STEM-based activities for the students. We hope they encourage the students to pursue further STEM-based education, and eventually a STEM-based career.”

Rivera said tying the FABLAB activities to the teacher’s lesson plan also allows for customization.

“When we partner with local school systems, we can bring in a premade lesson where we introduce the students to an engineering concept, whether that be computer-aided design or additive manufacturing,” said Rivera. “We can also find a lesson that the teacher is already doing with their students. For example, say they are working on a clean energy project where the students have mocked up windmills or solar farms. We can come into that class and teach the students how to actually design them. And then, for demonstration’s sake, we can 3D print them in the FABLAB so they can use them as aids in their presentations.”

Lewis has been with the outreach program since the introduction of the FABLAB. He said he is proud of all that the STEM Outreach Team has accomplished.  

“Our outreach program has come quite a long way, especially since the introduction of the FABLAB, and we are constantly brainstorming new ways to improve,” said Lewis. “I am looking forward to the program’s future initiatives.”

FRCE is North Carolina's largest maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider, with more than 4,000 civilian, military and contract workers. Its annual revenue exceeds $1 billion. The depot provides service to the fleet while functioning as an integral part of the greater U.S. Navy; Naval Air Systems Command; and Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers.

Jan 26, 2024

FRCE hosts F-35 sustainment leader

Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE) recently hosted the military official responsible for F-35 sustainment logistics and engineering efforts for the fifth-generation fighter aircraft.  

Air Force Maj. General Donald K. Carpenter, director of the Lightning Sustainment Center for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program Office, visited FRCE Jan. 24 in order to tour the depot’s F-35 components and air vehicle modification lines and familiarize himself with depot operations that support the F-35’s mission readiness. The engagement allowed FRCE to provide Carpenter with updates on current and future F-35 sustainment initiatives at the depot, including component capabilities development and planned facilities and infrastructure expansion, said FRCE Commanding Officer Capt. James M. Belmont.

“As the role of the F-35 continues to expand in the national defense, so does our support of the platform,” Belmont explained. “Our skilled artisans, engineers and logisticians are able to provide the nation’s warfighters with the services they need, when and where they need them, and that ability only grows with every new F-35 related capability and facility established at our depot.

“It’s exciting to have the opportunity to show Major General Carpenter just how far we’ve come since the inception of the F-35 program at FRC East, and provide him with a road map of where we’re headed in the future,” Belmont continued. “The work we do at FRC East is critical to the F-35 platform, and I’m proud to provide the major general with a first-hand look at how our team’s sustainment efforts enable mission readiness.”

FRCE is the lead site for depot-level maintenance on the F-35B Lightning II and has conducted modifications and repair on the Marine Corps’ short takeoff-vertical landing variant of the aircraft since 2013. The depot has also worked with the F-35A (conventional takeoff and landing) and F-35C (carrier) variants. In 2018, FRCE began establishing capabilities supporting a variety of components for the aircraft, with current ability to modify or repair 32 parts and plans to and an additional 42 in 2024.  Construction is under way for additional F-35 support infrastructure, including vertical lift fan test and processing facilities scheduled to come online later this year, with plans for the addition of an F-35 aircraft sustainment complex that will more than triple the dock space currently available for F-35 modifications at FRCE.

“It’s exciting to see the expansion of the F-35 capabilities and capacity under way at FRC East and learn more about how the depot and its workforce are positioned to enhance F-35 readiness,” said Carpenter, a former jet engine mechanic and flight engineer. “After meeting with Captain Belmont and touring the components shops and air vehicle modification line, I’m coming away with a more in-depth understanding of the depot’s ability to support sustainment of our growing F-35 fleet. The workforce here is exceptional, and it was great to hear directly from them how they see the sustainment efforts here continuing to improve.”

At the Lightning Sustainment Center, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, Carpenter leads a team of nearly 400 personnel who support F-35 sustainment planning and operations for the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force, along with seven partner nations, nine foreign military sales countries, and five industry contractors. Currently, the team supports sustainment of more than 950 Joint Strike Fighters and the planning/integration of more than 1,200 additional aircraft by 2027.

“The F-35 is the cornerstone of our nation’s future fighter fleet, and its presence makes an operational impact every single day,” Carpenter said. “As we continue fielding more fifth-generation fighters, sustainment operations will become increasingly important, and so will the role of commands like FRC East in helping the Joint Program Office maintain an environment of comprehensive sustainment excellence. I have no doubt that FRC East, and the workers here, will continue to be an important piece of F-35 mission readiness well into the future.” 

Belmont agreed that the work being done at FRCE now makes a real difference on flightlines across the globe, and will continue to grow with the F-35 fleet. 

“The F-35 is the future of naval aviation, and we’re proud of the work we’ve done here at the depot to support our nation’s warfighters,” Belmont said. “As the number of F-35 aircraft and missions flown increase, so do the sustainment requirements – and the men and women of FRC East are ready and able to provide the service our nation’s military aviators need to meet the mission.”

FRCE is North Carolina's largest maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider, with more than 4,000 civilian, military and contract workers. Its annual revenue exceeds $1 billion. The depot provides service to the fleet while functioning as an integral part of the greater U.S. Navy; Naval Air Systems Command; and Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers.

Jan 8, 2024

FRCE leading organic manufacturing efforts across Defense Department

When supply chain constraints make it challenging to source parts for aircraft maintained at Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE), the depot’s organic manufacturing capabilities allow FRCE to continue to return mission-ready aircraft to the Fleet.

Sometimes, parts become unobtainable through traditional acquisition methods employed by the Defense Logistics Agency, the Department of Defense’s demand and supply management organization. In cases like these, FRCE’s Manufacturing Machine Shop is called upon to step in and bridge the gap by manufacturing the items on-site at the depot, a process also referred to as organic manufacturing. The shop and its crew of skilled machinists offer capabilities that are put to work in service of military aviation readiness around the globe.

According to Cmdr. Blake Dremann, the depot’s supply officer, FRCE produces about 75 percent of the organic manufacturing completed across the Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC) enterprise. COMFRC consists of nine Fleet Readiness Centers, including FRCE, that conduct maintenance, repair, and overhaul of U.S. Navy aircraft, engines, components and support equipment.

Over the past three years, this in-house manufacturing has translated into approximately $19 million in parts manufactured at FRCE. That represents around 10 percent of FRCE’s annual materials cost, Dremann said, but the larger benefit of the depot’s organic manufacturing capability lies in its ability to resolve supply issues that could otherwise keep aircraft grounded.

“It’s not a huge portion of the work that we do, cost wise,” Dremann said. “But the real impact of our organic manufacturing capability is that it’s a readiness enabler. We’ve had a lot of really big successes in that realm.”

Cmdr. David Odom, officer-in-charge of DLA Aviation at Cherry Point, said the organic manufacturing partnership between FRCE and DLA has proven beneficial to both commands and their customers on the flight line.

“As a team, FRC East and DLA have worked together to max out organic manufacturing opportunities for emergent requirements on the production line and future planning gaps for retail shelf stock,” Odom said. “To date, FRC East has been leaning forward in this capacity, and is at the top of the list for maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities across the services and the Department of Defense.”

The parts manufactured at the FRCE have a measurable impact on naval aviation readiness, whether those parts are used at FRCE or sent to DLA to fulfill orders from the Fleet, said Don Jeter, Planning and Operations Division director within the depot’s Centralized Coordination Department.

“We have a pretty robust organic manufacturing program here at FRC East. We manufacture a huge number of piece parts; throughout the enterprise, probably around three-quarters of what’s being manufactured in support of the warfighter, we do here locally,” Jeter explained. “While the dollar value of those parts isn’t an astronomical number, their impact to the Fleet can’t be ignored.”

When DLA has exhausted traditional acquisition avenues and requests manufacturing support from FRCE, there is a great deal work that goes into planning, modeling and testing before the order ever reaches the depot’s machinists. Once production begins, FRCE’s machinists often complete orders of just one or two pieces, said Matt Sinsel, head of the Manufacturing, Machining and Welding Branch – which is part of why the depot’s organic manufacturing capability is so important.

“What’s unique about us is that we can produce the one-off parts, the onsies and twosies,” he said. “When you go out into private industry, they often want to see orders in bulk. There’s more money in running a thousand of the same part on a console. The engineering and programming costs are involved no matter how many pieces you’re producing. A lot of vendors in private industry aren’t willing to do that for one-off parts and, if they are, there might be an astronomical price associated with it.

“We’re different,” Sinsel continued. “We know our capability provides a stopgap, and we’ve invested in that.”

The skill and professionalism of FRCE’s machinists allow the depot to produce a wide range of parts using a variety of methods and equipment, said Jeff Norman, Manufacturing Machine Shop supervisor.

“One day, they might be running a five-axis computer numerical control machine, and then next week they’re traveling to another location to fix something on an aircraft,” he said. “These artisans are not just machine operators – they are, in fact, machinists, and they have the capabilities and bandwidth to do it all.

“They’re very dedicated in what they do,” Norman continued. “I’ve never experienced the level of ownership that this team has in their day-to-day operations and in what’s expected of them. They take it and they own it completely, 100 percent, knowing that their capabilities can get an aircraft back in service to the Fleet. I can’t say enough good about them and the work they do, and my hat’s off to them, absolutely.”

At FRCE, this type of manufacturing-on-demand conducted to fill supply gaps is most common for the legacy aircraft maintained at the depot, including the CH-53E Super Stallion and the AV-8B Harrier. Without the FRCE’s manufacturing capabilities, some of the parts needed for these aircraft might become impossible to source.

“The work we do helps prolong the life of an aircraft system or mission system,” Sinsel said. “It’s hard to sustain some of these aging aircraft, but the parts we produce through organic manufacturing help these aging aircraft reach their full life limit and mission execution.”

Jeter agreed that the capability provides an often-overlooked, but necessary, component of military aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul.

“We’re going above and beyond in our support of the warfighter, and that’s exactly what we exist for,” he said. “We’re the last resort to keep the warfighter flying, and that’s what we do.”

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