USS Pasadena (SSN 752) project team’s commitment to “get real, get better” through several improvement initiatives directly contributed to undocking June 26 at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY).
The Los Angeles-class submarine has been at NNSY since September 2020 for a Drydocking Selected Restricted Availability (DSRA) to replace, repair and overhaul components throughout the boat, as the shipyard’s first DSRA in a decade.
This overhaul has been garnering attention from Navy leadership as NNSY’s pilot project leveraging Naval Sustainment System—Shipyards (NSS-SY) practices. The NSS-SY initiative is underway at all four public shipyards, leveraging industry and government best practices on shipyard processes to drive quick and visible improvements in conducting maintenance.
These improvements helped Pasadena meet its revised undocking milestone. Initiatives included the establishment of an Operations Control Center to facilitate project team communications and a “start of shift” focus to gain efficiency in daily work execution. Additionally, shipyard production shops have implemented “crew boards” to track jobs supporting the boat’s overhaul. While Pasadena did not meet its original undocking date, these improvements have assisted the project team. Issues with resourcing and work performance contributed to the delay in undocking, but lessons learned from these occurrences allowed the project team to hold the revised undocking date, and will be implemented in future projects.
“Achieving undocking is a great step in returning Pasadena to the Fleet to meet its significant operational commitment for our Navy and Nation,” said Shipyard Commander Captain Dianna Wolfson. “As part of our drive to ‘get real, get better’ we have implemented a number of improvements on Pasadena in recent months that will substantially help us get better as we strive to deliver ships on time, every time. We have welcomed these learning opportunities with arms wide open as it will only make us stronger and more predictable. And we have learned that it’s okay to be uncomfortable—that’s where our real growth lies. I am so proud of our project team, and everyone in America’s Shipyard who supported them, for their grit and determination to get us to this milestone.”
In recent months, Navy leaders such as Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker have visited NNSY and met with the Pasadena team to pledge their support and discuss the drive to “get real, get better,” encouraging shipyarders to candidly discuss any constraints so they can be resolved. “As you identify problems and barriers to success in your work, there are people across the enterprise asking how they can remove those problems now and for the future,” Harker told the project team. “We’re looking across naval leadership at the things we can put in place to knock down those barriers.”
Some of the barriers being knocked down on Pasadena have addressed communication challenges and driving to stay focused on short-term goals. Wolfson said “help chain” cards have been distributed to project mechanics, supervisors and zone managers, so team members know where to get assistance as needed, coupled with increased deckplate engagement coaching personnel on processes and expectations to ensure understanding and compliance.
“Undocking is a key point in our availability as it signifies that the major work is complete and focus for the ship can shift from repairing to training,” said Pasadena Project Superintendent Frank Williams. “Sailors are meant to be at sea and not in a repair environment and it is our job to get them back there. In order to reduce the impact to our completion date, due to the shift in undocking, our project team has shortened the time after undocking and pulled work into the docking period that typically occurs after.”
Each of the public shipyards is piloting NSS-SY initiatives on a submarine undergoing availability, known as the “North Star.” Along with Pasadena at NNSY, they are USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility; USS Virginia (SSN 774) at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine; and USS Mississippi (SSN 782) at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii.
“As the ‘North Star’ of the shipyard with respect to improvement initiatives, our project is driving each and every day to do better, pull schedule left, and deliver the ship back to the fleet,” said Deputy Project Superintendent Lt. Cdr. Tim Olson.