SAN DIEGO – The leader of the Navy’s Surface Force says his staff is committed to supporting the recommendations of the Chief of Naval Operations’ (CNO) Reducing Administrative Distractions (RAD) initiative and improvements are already making their way to the waterfront.
Vice Adm. Thomas H. Copeman III, Commander, Naval Surface Forces (SURFOR) and Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (SURFPAC), said the entire Surface Force is moving forward with implementing changes recommended by the RAD program primarily in the areas of maintenance, engineering and damage control (DC).
“We have great work by the crews of ships and the staff on both coasts,” said Copeman. “Their effort to reduce administrative burdens on Sailors is consistent with the CNO's ‘Warfighting First’ tenet and absolutely in line with my priority of providing ready for combat warships - a task that is challenging as is without the myriad of day-to-day administrative tasks that often gets in the way.”
Copeman said a number of the RAD suggestions that came from Sailors in the Surface Force focused on ship’s Maintenance and Material Management (3M) programs.
“I reviewed these initiatives and was able to take immediate action on several items across the force,” said Copeman. “As a result, we are currently working to eliminate the redundancy with 3M compartment checks and zone inspections as well as eliminating 3M hard copy requirements aboard ships.”
Copeman also said that an initiative to reduce the number of engineering evolutions and drills from two per week to one per week was also recently implemented across the surface force with changes to both the Engineering Department Organization and Regulation Manual (EDORM) and Surface Force Exercise Manual (SFEM).
“Per the revised EDORM and SFEM Change One, engineering evolution and drill proficiency is now based purely on the frequency watchstanders and watch teams conduct individual evolutions and drills,” said Copeman. “This is a more accurate representation of proficiency.”
Under the direction of the CNO, the RAD website was launched July 1, 2013 to get direct input from Sailors on how the Fleet can streamline or eliminate administrative processes to allow more time to focus on mission readiness. It was designed as a three phase program in order to collect information, propose changes and take action. The cycle is designed to repeat itself annually.
“A new balance achieved between maintenance and training time is saving a typical engineering department approximately 105 man-hours per ship per week,” said Copeman. “Initial feedback is that this immediate implementation is well received.”
Copeman said additional ideas generated on board surface ships to better incorporate technology, expanded apprentice level DC and 3M training, as well as anti-terrorism and force protection (ATFP) training and manning, are on tap to be feed into the next round of suggestions when the RAD website opens up again at the end of this month.
“We are currently looking at implementing 3M training and qualification en route to the ship,” said Copeman. “A significant amount of time is spent training newly reported personnel in the administrative requirements of the 3M system. Incorporating basic 3M into ‘A’ schools and re-incorporating hands-on maintenance into ‘C’ schools have an exponential time savings on the fleet.”
Copeman also said there are groups within the Surface Force currently working to incorporate the Integrated Condition Assessment System functionality into the shipboard local area network, create an electronic equipment check database, create a centralized engineering reference library, and implement DC, quality assurance craftsman, and Engineering Operational Sequencing System training into ‘A’ and ‘C’ schools as well.
“As RAD transitions to a more enduring effort, we will continue to review the way we do business across the various surface warfare mission sets and look for ways to cut back on the admin burden for our ships,” said Copeman.
In Norfolk, Virginia, the staff of Destroyer Squadron Two (DESRON 2) has been diligently working on RAD initiatives to improve anti-terrorism and force protection organizational manning shortfalls in the Surface Force.
“With the exception of the force protection officer who is usually a first tour division officer, there are no personnel on the ship [DDG] whose primary duty is force protection,” said Capt. Stephen J. Coughlin, the DESRON 2 commander.
Coughlin said that the current ATFP program on a DDG is managed daily by a team of no less than six Sailors as a collateral duty vice a primary responsibility. Maintain requirements, training, supervising and equipping Sailors to stand the force protection watches requires trained and experienced experts in ATFP.
“Between the months of February and March, my team worked to reduce administrative distractions in the weapons department,” said Coughlin. “We received multiple inputs from my ships, and after researching each for feasibility and de-conflicting with the NWDC [Naval Warfare Development Command] RAD ATFP Lines of Operation, we drafted a decision paper.”
Coughlin said a key element of his team’s success is being bold and thinking outside the box for a creative solution to a complex problem.
“If implemented, some of our initiatives could result in approximately 130 man-hours saved per DDG per week while deployed and up to 36 man-hours per week while in homeport,” said Coughlin.
Developing Sailors, training crews to fight and win, and providing warships ready for combat are the subjects of Copeman's "Vision for the 2026 Surface Fleet" which consolidates a set of objectives and policies to maximize surface force readiness by concentrating on warfighting ability, sustainable excellence and wholeness over time.