As the Navy evolves new weapons systems, NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support is taking the lead in its supply support role and engaging all stakeholders to ensure the new FFG(X) weapon system, commonly known as the Fast Frigate, is set up for initial and future sustainment success.
Prior to the contract award to build the new FFG(X), the Program Executive Office Unmanned and Small Combatants, NAVSEA PMS 515 (frigate program office), and NAVSUP WSS conducted several FFG(X) new acquisition and follow on support and sustainment strategy meetings.
“The team evolved as a necessity to support a rapid delivery plan,” said Lt. Adam Pace, director of NAVSUP WSS Unmanned and Small Combatant Integrated Weapon Systems Team. “By engaging early, NAVSUP WSS can better plan and execute our acquisition milestones to synchronize with program life cycle support planning and execution.”
In April, the Navy awarded Fincantieri/Marinette Marine, or F/MM, a contract worth nearly $800 million to build a first-in-class guided missile frigate, with an option for nine additional ships. The Navy plans to build 20 ships as part of the future frigate program. Fincantieri will build an adapted variant of the Italian Fregata Europea Multi-Missione multi-purpose frigate design in Wisconsin at its Marinette shipyard. The FFG(X) fills a void left as the Navy decommissioned Perry Class Frigates, which the Navy used in multiple types of missions.
“This is going to be a real workhorse for the United States Navy supporting distributed maritime operations in the future,” said Vice Adm. James Kilby, the Navy’s deputy chief of naval operations for warfighting requirements and capabilities, during the teleconference for the contract award, April 30. “So, we are super excited about this ship, and I can’t think of a better asset…to give [Naval commanders] the flexibility to do what we need to do in the future.”
Stephanie Enck, deputy director of the NAVSUP WSS Unmanned and Small Combatant Integrated Weapon Systems Team (UM&SC IWST), said early meetings helped shape future collaboration between NAVSUP WSS and several industry and Department of Defense partners. The consortium of subject matter experts most recently hosted a large stakeholder FFG(X) integrated logistics support working group meeting with many of the key stakeholders including F/MM, In-Service Engineering Agents, Defense Logistics Agency, and NAVSUP WSS’s UM&SC IWST, provisioners, and Maritime Allowancing and Outfitting Department.
According to Enck, the FFG(X) acquisition strategy points to an accelerated Material Support Date and elimination of Interim Supply Support due to 80 percent of the ship’s Consolidated Shipboard Allowance Listing covered systems being mature and already supported by NAVSUP. However, she emphasized “…the FFG(X) Program must coordinate a requirement and budget for initial spares lay-in for systems new to the Navy and anticipate an increase in demand due to ship population growth via future budget and requirements cycles.”
A ship’s consolidated onboard shipboard allowance listing determines those onboard repair parts required to achieve maximum installed system operational availability and self-sustainment for extended periods.
According to Enck, the biggest game-changer to evolve from these initiatives is having a seat at the table this early in acquisition milestones of the ship-building and design process.
“Our efforts are helping change the culture when thinking about maritime supply chain strategies,” said Enck. “In my 16 years with NAVSUP WSS, this is the first time I’ve experienced an opportunity to engage with the Program Offices this early in the design-selection phase and be involved in early planning for sustainment for surface platforms. NAVSUP WSS, working jointly with NAVSEA PEO USC and PMS 525, has heightened the level of transparency, sharing of data, drawings, and planning documents ensuring joint distribution.”
Enck said this will ultimately best prepare for a swift delivery of FFG(X) ships and NAVSUP WSS increased ability to procure parts to support lethality of the platform. “Early collaboration will provide NAVSUP WSS greater visibility of demand signals to allow for a more accurate parts forecast…so that when the ship goes into service, the supply system will have parts on the shelves, ready and available.”
Another of the early wins from the working group meetings was refinement of early acquisition life cycle processes and planning necessary to support a seamless transition to traditional supply support by NAVSUP WSS. This included a review of provisioning and modeling strategies with a focus on the modeling process and data input requirements.
“We want to ensure every stakeholder has a clear vision of the future sustainment strategy and transparency of accurate information,” said Enck. “The team laid out the requirements and ensured all stakeholders involved in supporting the FFG(X) platform had a thorough understanding, buy-in of requirements and agreement on data product deliverables. The working group also made sure F/MM had a full understanding of the deliverables, timelines and plan to meet those milestones.”
Before the conclusion of the last working group meeting in July, F/MM provided a timeline for provisioning and configuration management deliverables.
A significant amount of time was spent discussing the Readiness Based Sparing model, leading to the team recommending provisioning timelines and frequency expectations of running the model to ensure an accurate and complete output for on board repair parts necessary to sustain FFG(X) and deliver targeted readiness. NAVSEA PMS 515 and NAVSUP WSS reiterated the importance of timeliness and accuracy of provisioning and modeling in order to determine accurate spares and budget requirements to achieve readiness objectives.
The working group continues to examine other facets of the overall program such as strategic contract partnerships to leverage existing contracts within NAVSEA PMS 515 and NAVSUP WSS, which could combine both initial and wholesale spares requirements to reduce administrative lead times and glean economy-of-scales buys. Additionally, the team is probing opportunities to utilize existing NAVSUP WSS performance based logistics contracts to determine the realm of possibility to incorporate FFG(X) program spares under future PBL contract renewals.
Building a new class of ship is time and labor intensive involving thousands of experts in numerous fields in a years-long process—but for good reason.
“The processes of requirements definition, acquisition and budgeting may appear to be complex, cumbersome, labor intensive and unwieldy,” said Rear Adm. Peter Stamatopoulos, commander, Naval Supply Systems Command. “That’s because they are. However, they are of paramount importance to deliver the right capabilities at the best possible cost. So many organizations, individuals and processes must coalesce to deliver the right solution to the warfighter and they must preserve that level of synergy throughout the life cycle of the system to ensure its uninterrupted viability,” Stamatopoulos added.
“This is exciting for us here at NAVSUP WSS,” said Ginger Thomas, logistics management specialist, NAVSUP WSS UM&SC IWST. “Involving NAVSUP WSS this early is extremely encouraging. We are involved in the decision-making process and can have a positive effect for the future of an entire class of ship.”
In partnership with NAVSUP WSS, NAVSEA PMS 515 agreed to coordinate future budget requirements and investments for initial spares to assist in providing increased inventory levels at system materiel support dates.
The Navy expects the construction of the first FFG(X) to begin no later than 2022. With the upfront program support and collaboration across stakeholders NAVSUP WSS is on track to provide supply support sustainment when the Navy takes delivery of the first FFG(X) in 2026.
NAVSUP WSS is one of 11 commands under Commander, NAVSUP. Headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and employing a diverse, worldwide workforce of more than 22,500 military and civilian personnel, NAVSUP's mission is to provide supplies, services, and quality-of-life support to the Navy and joint warfighter.