Two men shaking hands and hold a trophy

Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Commander Vice Adm. Carl Chebi, left, presents Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE) Centralized Coordination Department Head Stephen Barrow, right, with the NAVAIR Commander’s Award in the Business Innovation category on behalf of the FRCE C-130 Workload Optimization Team. The annual NAVAIR Commander’s Awards recognize winners in 10 categories aligned directly to NAVAIR’s focus areas: behavior and capability, affordability and availability.

FRCE C-130 Team receives NAVAIR Commander’s award

Innovation, preparedness and forward thinking earned the Fleet Readiness Center East (FRCE) C-130 Workload Optimization Team recognition during the 24th annual Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Commander’s Awards ceremony May 22.  

NAVAIR Commander Vice Adm. Carl Chebi presented the C-130 Workload Optimization Team with the NAVAIR Commander’s Award in the Business Innovation category during an event held at NAVAIR Headquarters in Patuxent River, Maryland, and live-streamed across the command. The annual NAVAIR Commander’s Awards recognize winners in 10 categories aligned directly to NAVAIR’s focus areas: behavior and capability, affordability and availability.  

The C-130 Workload Optimization Team developed an innovative strategy to partner with the state of North Carolina to support the Navy and Marine Corps C/KC-130J Super Hercules and C/KC-130T Hercules workload’s return to the Navy depot structure, following a 36-year period during which the U.S. Air Force serviced the aircraft. The initiative with the state marked the first of its kind within the Department of Defense (DoD), and will save millions of taxpayer dollars annually, offer growth opportunities and increase aircraft readiness which, in turn, benefits the Fleet.  

“The depot’s continued partnership with the state of North Carolina represents a significant milestone,” said FRCE Commanding Officer Capt. James Belmont. “The C-130 Workload Optimization Team may not be large in numbers, but they have had a huge impact on the depot. The C-130 plays an important role in fleet operations and, through our support of the platform with a new hangar designed specifically for C-130 operations, FRC East will be able to directly impact mission readiness.”

FRCE’s partnership with the state of North Carolina allowed the team to collaborate with the North Carolina Global TransPark to develop a purpose-built maintenance facility, spanning over 700,000 square feet and tailored specifically to the depot’s recent adoption of the C-130 maintenance, repair and overhaul workload. The Global TransPark is a multi-modal industrial and business park in Kinston that holds an array of aviation industry and manufacturing entities, including FRCE’s UH-1N helicopter production line, which opened in early 2021. 

Centralized Coordination Department Head Stephen Barrow said this initiative offers significant cost savings for the DoD.  

“This initiative is making a remarkable and positive impact within the Naval Aviation Enterprise,” said Barrow. “Bringing the C-130 workload back into the Naval enterprise will provide more visibility, control, a higher-level of service and ultimately an increase of readiness. Additionally, the move will save significant amounts of funding, thus increasing the ‘buying power’ of the fleet.

“With these projected savings, the Naval enterprise will be saving millions per aircraft, tens of millions per year and hundreds of millions over a five-year period,” he added.

Barrow also said the initiative holds considerable promise for economic advancement within eastern North Carolina. 

“Eastern North Carolina is a generally rural area where high-paying, technical jobs are not easy to come by, making this huge for the local area,” said Barrow. “The C-130 initiative in Kinston will bring an estimated 300,000 direct labor hours per year, so the depot will be looking to fill positions to take on those labor hours. If you add in the HH-60 work, that’s a lot of jobs for the folks in the community. 

“It’s also huge for the local economy,” he continued. “It brings additional revenue in from a tax perspective, retailers and commercial entities could then start recognizing the larger population and possibly move to the area, all of which help the community grow.”  

This is not the first partnership between FRCE and Global TransPark, though it will be the biggest partnership the Global TransPark has established to date, and marks the first of its kind across the Department of Defense. Barrow said relationship the command has developed with the state through the lease of their buildings at the UH-1N facility helped the procurement of the C-130 lease.  

“The lease for the UH-1N space in Kinston created the initial relationship between FRC East and the Global TransPark,” said Barrow. “As our relationship grew, the C-130 initiative idea started to develop into what it is today.”  

Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Logistics Department Head Matthew McCann said the initiative helps secure the depot’s future.  

“We aren’t bringing in a workload that will start sundowning in eight to 10 years,” said McCann. “The last I saw, the C-130 is projected to be alive until around 2064, so you’re looking at about four decades of solid C-130 workload coming through. That solidifies us and allows us to be here for generations to come.”  

McCann said teamwork was an important factor of the initiative’s success.  

“The biggest challenges we faced early on were the scale and scope of this initiative,” said McCann. “This is something we had never done before. There weren’t any examples we could base our strategy on. We wouldn’t have gotten to where we are today without the invaluable support from our key stakeholders and partnership with the state of North Carolina.”  

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.

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