Grumman TBD Devastator torpedo bombers and Grumman F3F biplane trainers undergoing repair by the Assembly and Repair Department, a precursor to Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW), in Building 94 on Naval Air Station San Diego (now NAS North Island), February 1940.

COMFRC outlines infrastructure optimization plan at DoD Maintenance Symposium

The Naval Sustainment System (NSS) model, implemented last fall, has increased readiness and continues to improve warfighting capabilities for the Navy and Marine Corps, despite aging infrastructure and equipment.

This was the focus of an opening statement by Amy Cannello, Industrial Capability and Infrastructure Group Lead for Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC), at the DoD Maintenance Symposium in Spokane, Wash., Dec. 9, on a panel titled, “Investments in the Organic Industrial Base – Need for Modernizing and Enhancing OIB Infrastructures and Equipment.”

The increased readiness is a result of Fleet Readiness Center (FRC) reform, just one piece of NSS, and despite the challenges FRC commanding officers face with aging infrastructure and equipment. “The improvements we’ve seen as a direct result of NSS can only be sustained with improved facilities and up to date equipment,” Cannello said.

“Depots are crucial to the readiness and sustainability of the Navy’s aviation enterprise - maintaining, repairing and overhauling aircraft, engines and components needed to support our warfighters,” said Rear Adm. Mike Zarkowski, who has led COMFRC for the last four years and understands the necessity of updating our facilities and equipment.

Zarkowski is referring to aviation platforms such as the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and the F-35 Lightning, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter.

COMFRC’s Infrastructure Optimization Plan (IOP) is an ambitious and innovative initiative, which outlines how to address these challenges in three phases.

Phase 1 consisted of an initial baseline assessment of COMFRC’s most critical production and manufacturing facilities and critical/capital equipment. Phase 2a kicked off in late September with a team of 20 contractors who conducted an equipment inventory and comprehensive facility assessments. Phase 3 of the IOP will include the completion of the master plan for strategic investments, as well as ongoing optimization and execution at the depots.

The teams are looking at the facilities holistically, and assessing everything from foundations, to heating and cooling, to security features and safety systems. The legacy buildings were built to support work on very different airframes and equipment than the ones needed for today’s Navy, and Phase 2 of the IOP will spotlight where the most efficient investments should be made.

The average age of FRC facilities is 59 years. Many buildings are older – at FRC  Southwest (FRCSW), there is one building in use that is 100 years old, and many of the other buildings that make up FRCSW were built in the same timeframe.

Implementation of the IOP will provide the ability to sustain the next generation of aircraft and enable surge capability, contributing to fleet readiness. “The intent is not to simply improve old methods of production and asset management, but rather to redesign the use of resources including man power, machinery, inventory management, energy efficiency, and overall management,” Cannello said.  

COMFRC is committed to modernizing its infrastructure and developing an enterprise master plan and supporting investment strategy to transform or reset Naval Aviation’s Depots to the 21st Century and beyond, according to Zarkowski.

“The IOP is an essential strategy to update our facilities and equipment to support fifth generation weapons systems. After the recommendations are received and investment decisions are made, the Navy will see a significant increase in capability through the more rapid delivery of critical aircraft to the fleet,” added Cannello. 

“To fully support organic depot requirements of the 21st Century Air Wing, the aviation industrial depots must modernize facilities along with critical and capital equipment,” Zarkowski said. “We can’t say, ‘if’ we do this – we have to say, ‘when we do this,’ and now is the time.” 


F-4 Phantom II aircraft being reworked in Building 94 during the 1970’s. The first F-4 was reworked by Naval Air Rework Facility (NARF), a precursor to Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) in 1962; the last F-4 left the NARF in 1985.

Boeing F/A-18 Hornet aircraft undergoing rework in the hangar area of Building 94 by Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) in 2017.

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