ALEXANDRIA, Va. --- The BAV Division of VSE Corporation (VSE/BAV) announced today that it had completed the reactivation of two ex-Kidd Class guided missile destroyers.
Harry Flammang, the Division Manager of VSE/BAV, said the final of four ex-USS Kidd Class guided missile destroyers [was] reactivated in Charleston, South Carolina for the Taiwan Navy. The departure of these ships for Taiwan draws to a close a successful, high-visibility program that has spanned three years.
Overhaul Planning and Reactivation
VSE/BAV managed the successful reactivations as Prime Contractor to the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) for support of ships and systems transferred under NAVSEA's Foreign Military Sales program.
VSE Chairman, President and CEO/COO Don Ervine commented, "Over ten years ago VSE/BAV departed from the Navy's traditional business model for overhauling and maintaining ships in favor of a more effective and efficient business model that significantly reduces costs, improves and controls schedules, and continuously delivers sound technical performance to our customers. This business model coupled with strong systems integration capability and exceptionally knowledgeable and talented team of people has allowed VSE/BAV to complete the complex overhaul and reactivation of the four ex-USS Kidd class guided missile destroyers in two and one-half years, which is well ahead of schedule and under budget."
The ex-Kidd Class guided missile destroyers included the USS Kidd (DDG- 993), USS Scott (DDG-995), USS Callaghan (DDG-994), and USS Chandler (DDG- 996). Prior to reactivation, the ships had been stored at the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facilities at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Bremerton, Washington since being decommissioned from the U.S. Navy in the late 1990s.
To restore these ships to full operational capability, VSE/BAV and its 21 subcontractors planned and performed in excess of 14,600 industrial work items requiring more than 168,300 man days. The subcontractors included Detyens Shipyards, Booz|Allen|Hamilton, Rolls-Royce, Raytheon, DRS, L-3 Communications/PACORD, B&D Boilers, Sullivan and Associates, Anteon, and George C. Sharp. At one point in the project, three ships were in full industrial production, with advance work being conducted on the fourth ship.
Over the course of eleven years and 30 previous transfers, VSE/BAV has used a process of ship systems reactivation that minimizes expense to the customer. Systems are opened, inspected, the condition assessed and only the components necessary for reactivation are procured. Reactivated systems are subjected to extensive quality assurance tests and then fully tested again during sea trials. The result is similar to a "just in time" business strategy that minimizes expense to the customer by reducing the amount of resources expended on unnecessary inventory and unneeded repair efforts, while fully achieving the customer's operational requirements.
Rear Admiral Pu, Commander of Taiwan's Kidd Class Ship Transfer Squadron, commented, "Many did not believe the four ships would be delivered within the budget. At times, I had my doubts, but we all worked together to deliver all four ships early and under budget."
The industrial reactivation of these four ships included significant repairs and modernization. Two sonar dome rubber windows had to be replaced and all four of the SQS-53A sonars were upgraded to the SQS-53D (digital version). Additionally, New Threat Upgrade (NTU) weapons systems were modernized to shoot the Standard Missile 2, Block IIIA, the standard area defense, anti-aircraft missile used by the U.S. Navy. The VSE/BAV team also replaced 11 waste heat boilers, part of the DDG's power generation system, reactivated all 28 of the ships' propulsion and electrical generator gas turbines, installed two "Triple S" clutches that transfer power from the gas turbines to the massive reduction gears, and installed the first ever Close in Weapons System that combines two different model mounts on the same ship.
While part of the U.S. Navy active fleet, the four ships received the baseline NTU modernization to their Anti-Air Warfare System, an extremely capable and complex system of sensors, computers, and advanced ordnance systems. The last NTU ship, USS California (CGN 36), was decommissioned in 1999. Thus, active U.S. Navy support of the NTU system had ceased almost five years prior to the start of this project. Reactivating this system required exceptional ingenuity to ferret out sources of repair parts and find people with the requisite skills to reactivate the ships' systems.
The VSE/BAV Team recruited extensively among ex-U.S. Navy technicians and particularly among ex-USS Kidd Class sailors to staff not only the project's industrial management team, but also a group of fifty people hired as instructors and technical specialists directly supporting the ships' crews. This team, referred to as the Ship Transfer Assistance Team, or STAT, was almost entirely composed of retired U.S. Navy personnel who averaged 20 years' experience on their respective systems. STAT personnel were primarily used as instructors for training Taiwan crews, but they also provided technical expertise to Taiwan Navy technicians who actively participated in industrial work. In training the Taiwan crewmembers, the STAT conducted 4,625 classes, comprising 19,574 instructor hours and 156,247 student hours. The STAT also produced 193,736 Personnel Qualification Standards system signatures to validate Taiwan crewmembers' progress.
The ships and their crews were subjected to a rigorous training regimen. They received scrutiny similar to that which any U.S. Navy combatant receives after emerging from a major industrial availability period. The final inport and underway training was modeled on the U.S. Navy's Tailored Ship Training Availability (TSTA) and Final Evaluation Phase (FEP) format, including drill packages and exercises any U.S. Navy Sailor would find familiar. Before that, the crews were taught theory in a classroom setting, received extensive on the job training, and were subjected to a tailored Personnel Qualification Standards (PQS) system. On several occasions, actual U.S. Navy inspection teams were brought onboard to evaluate the training of the crews and material condition of the ships, particularly during the Light Off Assessments (LOA) for the ships' engineering departments.
Mike Fahey, VSE/BAV's Waterfront Manager for the project, commented, "The composition of the waterfront team is the finest group of professionals I have ever seen. Their vast experience coupled with exceptional managerial and technical skills epitomizes the finest qualities of American character which is a credit to VSE/BAV Corporation."
In addition to the VSE/BAV Team's management and performance of the industrial availability and crew training, it also provided extensive logistical support including messing and berthing the Taiwan crews, and procuring and warehousing all materiel required for both the industrial work and ships' outfitting. Crew support entailed the feeding and berthing of more than 1,500 Taiwan military members during the course of the project. Industrial support required the receipt and issuance of more than 51,000 material line items.
The ships, with their new crews, performed extensive post-overhaul testing and sea trials, to ensure all systems were working to specification. The culmination of these tests and trials was the successful SM 2 Block IIIA live fire missile exercises, conducted by DDGs 1801 and 1802, off the Virginia coast in October 2005.
On November 1st, 2005, the first two ships, ROCS Kee Lung (DDG 1801) and ROCS Su Ao (DDG 1802) departed Charleston for Taiwan, ahead of schedule and under budget. Only ten months later, the remaining two ships, ROCS Tso Ying (DDG 1803) and ROCS Ma Kung (DDG 1805) departed, again significantly ahead of schedule and under budget.
VSE's International Group President Jim Knowlton said, "VSE/BAV has a long relationship with the Taiwan Navy. Since 1997, we have participated in the transfer of an ARS, two Knox class frigates, an Anchorage class LSD, and now the four Kidd Class Destroyers. Each of these efforts has been extremely successful and has significantly enhanced Taiwan's naval strength. We look forward to our next opportunity to work with our Taiwan Navy shipmates."
VSE provides diversified services to the engineering, energy and environment, defense, and homeland security markets from more than 20 locations across the United States and around the world. For the six-month period ending June 30, 2006, VSE reported consolidated revenues of $158 million and earnings of $3.5 million ($1.45 per diluted share).