Aiming to improve operational readiness across the surface force, Rear Adm. Roy Kitchener, Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic, (SURFLANT), hosted a Waterfront Training and Readiness Seminar, Jan. 23.
During the event, commanding officers, executive officers and other local leaders met to discuss maintenance and training practices focused on improving ships material conditions and crew proficiency. The primary focus being to increase the number of ships available during the basic and sustainment phase.
A resonating theme at the symposium was routinely conducting proper self-assessments on ships, to “get back to the standing orders,” Kitchener said. He also spoke on the vitality of being able to conduct these assessments to find problems on equipment and get them fixed quickly. To achieve this, he reminded leaders to regularly conduct zone inspections with an operational mindset. Improved readiness is driven by ship’s crewmembers focusing on the standards. “New missions are happening every day; the Navy must be ever ready at any point to act.”
Capt. David Fowler, assistant chief of staff for readiness and assessments, added, “It is vital to teach our Sailors the correct way to do maintenance and inspections because it will become muscle memory for them.”
With roughly 75 in attendance, SURFLANT briefers discussed the revision of the Surface Force Training and Readiness Manual, changes to the READ-E process, and recent trends that have been seen across all ship classes. The group also discussed how to execute an effective zone inspection program, as facilitated by Capt. John Bub, Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) chief of staff and lead senior assessor.
Bub reported that, in his inspections, he has observed three major issues. They include ships not having all spaces assigned for zones in accordance with the instruction; no measurable way to determine if the commanding officer trains his crew for inspections; and the required two years of records not being organized or available. Ships should refer to the type commander’s instructions for help in adhering to requirements.
The manager of Engineering Readiness Assist Team (ERAT) Sam Lyons offered more advice for solving these problems. His team and the Combat Systems Readiness Assist Team are available for training and non-gradable assessments to ships across the waterfront before availabilities, Readiness Assessments, and INSURV. ERAT can provide and bring “A school to the deck plates” with training to any and all Sailors. They are not just trainers but mentors.
Fowler closed out the seminar by saying, “Material condition readiness should be at the top of the commander’s list every day. SURFLANT is available to support and assist the waterfront leaders and crew with maintaining standards and teaching Sailors to focus on the core fundamentals.”