The Navy’s failure to oversee maintenance of supply ships operated by contractors has gotten so bad that one “developed a hole in the hull” while it was transporting Marine Corps gear to an exercise and never made it to its destination, according to a Pentagon Inspector General report released last month.
The IG’s probe lambastes the sea service’s Military Sealift Command, or MSC, for failing to properly oversee maintenance of its prepositioned ships ― a fleet of vessels strategically placed around the globe and packed with supplies in case a large-scale war suddenly erupts.
It is the latest alarm to be sounded over the sorry readiness woes of MSC vessels, ships with an unsexy but vital wartime mission.
Between December and August, IG investigators focused on MSC’s 20 prepositioned ships that are contractor-operated because they comprise the majority of the 26 prepositioning vessels.
They determined that MSC officials fail to ensure these vessels are maintained or provided with preventive maintenance plans.
MSC also doesn’t verify that the contractors perform preventive maintenance when they say they do, IG found.
“As a result, MSC is unable to accurately assess the condition and readiness of the (contactor-operated) ships, which has impeded the combatant commanders’ ability to carry out planned operations," the report states. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Navy Times website.
(Source: Inspector General, U.S. Department of Defense; issued Sept 24, 2018)
We determined whether the Military Sealift Command (MSC) ensured that Government-owned, contractor-operated (GOCO) prepositioning ships received the required maintenance.
MSC did not ensure its GOCO prepositioning ships received the required maintenance. Specifically, MSC personnel did not maintain complete and accurate preventative maintenance plans, which identify the contractors’ maintenance responsibilities. In addition, MSC did not verify that contractor personnel completed the contract requirements related to the preventative maintenance of the GOCO prepositioning fleet.
MSC personnel did not maintain complete and accurate preventative maintenance plans because MSC did not update technical drawings and manuals to replicate the ships’ configurations and provide training to all SAMM users on the system’s functionality.
MSC did not verify contractor personnel completed the contract requirements related to preventative maintenance because the MSC Prepositioning Program Management and Contracting Offices:
• awarded contracts that did not state specific requirements for the contractors’ training and use of SAMM;
• did not ensure a contracting officer’s representative or contracting officer’s technical representative was present to oversee the contractor; and
• did not communicate contractual deficiencies to the contractors in writing.
(FOUO) As a result, MSC is unable to accurately assess the condition and readiness of the GOCO ships, which has impeded the combatant commanders’ ability to carry out planned operations. For example, the Blount Island Command, Operations Division Deputy Director of the Marine Corps Technical Assistance and Advisory Team provided two examples where a prepositioning ship was unable to attend planned exercises because of maintenance deficiencies, including one instance where a ship carrying the Marine Corps’ equipment developed a hole in the hull during transit to participate in an exercise.
In addition, preventative maintenance is an integral method for sustaining equipment through its useful life, which reduces the amount of repairs needed during overhaul. Therefore, by not ensuring its G OCO prepositioning ships received the required maintenance, MSC may have contributed to the $139.9 million in unplanned overhaul repair costs that MSC prepositioning ships endured from November to March.
The unplanned repairs also required the ships to spend more time in the dry dock, which resulted in MSC running an average of over the planned time in dry dock from November to March.
Finally, MSC relies entirely on contractors for the operation and maintenance of prepositioning ships and has committed $544.7 million to such contracts.
Without complete and accurate preventative maintenance plans, which identify and provide instructions on the contractors’ maintenance responsibilities, and without effective oversight of the contractors, which ensures all contractual requirements are fulfilled, MSC committed $544.7 million to contracts without assurance that the contractors would execute all of the required maintenance on its prepositioning fleet.
Click here for the full report (48 PDF pages) on the DoD IG website.