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Guiding the Future of the Fleet
Efforts to Improve Readiness

"As professionals, there comes a time when we must pause, self-reflect, asses, and determine if course corrections are required. For surface warriors at all individual command levels, that time is now. "

Vice Admiral Thomas S. Rowden
Commander, Naval Surface Forces, US Pacific

Future of the Fleet Main Article

Warfighting Serial #13: “Confidence and Competence”

Naval Surface Force Commander Visits Sasebo Based Ships

Commander Naval Surface Forces Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden released his latest “Warfighting Serial” titled Confidence and Competence Friday, September 15, 2017.

The “Warfighting Serials” are designed to be thoughts, important discussion points and direction to the leaders of the surface force (commanders, commodores, commanding officers, department heads command senior enlisted leaders, etc.). This serial comes after four major incidents at sea, which resulted in the death of 17 Sailors, and comprehensive reviews directed by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson.

Confidence and Competence directs commanders to take specific actions to ensure increased safety and preparedness of units, at sea and in port. Rowden is taking a steadfast stance on ensuring ships are receiving the appropriate amount of time to conduct training and certifications prior to deployment, increasing ownership of the processes in place, and creating a culture of standardization across the surface community, and the fleet as a whole.

Rowden puts an emphasis on increased ownership at the commanding officer and immediate superior in command (ISIC) levels. Leaders at this level are obligated to ensure the manning, material readiness and training necessary to facilitate accurate “talent to task” placement for operational success is in place.

"While mission accomplishment will always be the dominant success measure, we must take greater heed of the manning, maintenance, training, and certification pillars that collectively foster that success. "

Vice Admiral Thomas S. Rowden
Commander, Naval Surface Forces, US Pacific

One step Rowden is taking-- in conjunction with direction of Commander U.S. Pacific Fleet Adm. Swift--to address the “time for training” concern is supporting the creation of the Naval Surface Group Western Pacific (NSGWP) to address an organizational gap that allowed a culture to grow myopically focused on operations to the detriment of readiness. NSGWP will consolidate authorities to oversee the training and certification of FNDF-J ships.

An immediate change being implemented for all surface forces is Ready for Sea Assessments (RFSA). They started with FDNF-J CRUDES ships, reviewing each ship’s manning documents, critical NECs, critical school requirements, certification/recurring event completion status, material readiness of critical equipment and systems, and the command’s utilization of the plan, brief, execute, and debrief (PBED) and operational risk management (ORM) programs.

“Confidence and Competence” Directed Actions

  • Establish standard commanding officer standing orders, engineering standing orders, and battle orders to ensure simplicity and commonality in order to provide standardization for watchstanders across all surface ships.
  • Notwithstanding fleet commander direction, mission-specific operational security (OPSEC), emission control (EMCON), or force protection conditions, AIS shall be transmitted while transiting any traffic separation scheme and/or any high density traffic area.
  • Casualty reports allow operational commanders and support personnel to be alerted to the status of significant equipment malfunctions that may result in the degradation of a unit's readiness. Casualty reports vary from Category 2-4, with Category 4 being the most severe and mission impacting casualties. Immediately going effective, any casualty to critical ship controlling equipment/systems impacting navigation, steering, propulsion control, and/or installed damage control equipment will be Category (CAT)-3 casualty reports (CASREP), unless the Joint Fleet Maintenance Manual (JFMM) rules dictate CAT-4. Any equipment/system degradation triggering redline criteria will bear a minimum CAT-3 CASREP, an accompanying mitigation plan, and a request for continued operation to be reviewed by the cognizant fleet commander.
  • ISICS and commanding officers are directed to assess all inport, underway, special evolution watchbills and watch team replacement plans for both qualification accuracy and watchstander proficiency.
  • All units shall report, evaluate, and train to lessons learned from incidents and near misses. Formal requirements for such codified in CNSPINST 3040.1.

For more information on the message release, see message titled ‘Warfighting Serial 13 – Confidence and Competence 160050Z SEP 17’

Naval Surface Group Western Pacific Establishment

Naval Surface Group Western Pacific (NAVSURFGRUWESTPAC) will oversee the maintenance and readiness of forward deployed ships with the authority to determine whether a ship is ready for operational tasking or conversely, not certified for operations and requires further training.

The focus of NSGWP will be on overall readiness for the operational deployment of ships. In contrast to Afloat Training Group (ATG), NSGWP will focus on the ship as whole. ATG only assesses individual warfare areas, such as damage control, anti-terrorism, navigation, etc. Additionally, ATG has no authority or oversight in regards to maintenance, while NSGWP will continually monitor and amend any maintenance deficiencies.

The formation and development of NSGWP as a command will continue over the next couple of months, and it will only preside over FDNF-J ships. One significant change from our current FDNF model is that the NSGWP will prevent a ship from receiving operational tasking if it does not pass the necessary benchmarks.

Rowden is eager for this organization to enact change on the waterfront for our forward deployed forces. NSGWP will be led by Capt. Rich Dromerhauser. “The Surface Navy operates under the tenets of being Forward, Visible and Ready”, said Dromerhauser, “and I fully take on board the CNO’s point; we must understand that the enduring strength for our Surface Force can only be built on a foundation of solid readiness.”

For more information on the message release, see message titled ‘Establishment of Naval Surface Group Western Pacific 280134Z OCT 17’

Force Wide Circadian Rhythm Implementation Message

As stated in previous Warfighting Serials, Rowden has released guidance on the implementation of circadian rhythm routines for surface ships. All CNSF ships shall implement circadian rhythm watchbills and shipboard routines onboard their ships and commands NLT 20 DEC 2017. Naval postgraduate school (NPS) research has conclusively linked the importance of sleep to safe, professional watchstanding. Research has shown that 21 hours without sleep results has a degree of impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.08 -- legally drunk.

We would not encourage Sailors to operate their personal operated vehicles under such conditions; we will strive to not ask our crews to stand watch and operate shipboard systems in a similar mental and physical state.

Used together, circadian rhythm watchbills and shipboard routines should reduce fatigue. They are designed to provide our sailors with a predictable watch rotations and protected sleep periods that honor a natural circadian rhythm. Littoral combat ships (LCS), mine countermeasure (MCM) and patrol coastal (PC) ships are exempt from this order, due to their unique mission sets and manning constructs. However, commanding officers on these platforms shall implement the principles and practices to the best of their ability.

For more information on the message release, see message titled ‘Force-Wide Circadian Rhythm Implementation – 200042Z SEP 17’

The Naval Post Graduate School takes a look at the effect of sleep and a Ship Crew's endurance, see more here http://my.nps.edu/web/crewendurance

Ready For Sea Assessments


Following the Operational Pause and comprehensive review tasked by the CNO, Swift directed a second phase of action focused on a deliberate reset of readiness for all Pacific Fleet surface ships.

As part of phase two, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet is conducting Ready For Sea Assessments (RFSA). The assessments will specifically focus on readiness of FDNF-J ships, and then expand to the entire Pacific Fleet.

Assessments immediately began being conducted on FDNF-J CRUDES ships, then all other FDNF-J ships, with an emphasis on the critical mission areas of navigation, propulsion, steering, communications and damage control.

Ships that are underway or on station will be taken off station to provide two days (minimum) for the RFSA. Ships completing their RFSA will then rotate out with other ships that need to receive initial assessments. Operational demand and the assessments will be closely coordinated with the operational commander, U.S. 7th Fleet.

There will be immediate remediation for ships deemed deficient and prompt remediation for outstanding certifications and inoperative equipment.

"Everything we do as surface warriors is "extraordinary" due to the inherent risks associated with operating ships at sea. Recent incidents remind us that any moment at sea has the potential to be a critical moment requiring confident, decisive, and well-trained action. "

Vice Admiral Thomas S. Rowden
Commander, Naval Surface Forces, US Pacific

For more information on the message release, see message titled ‘Ready For Sea Assessment Guidance – 110055Z OCT 17’


 Externally Published Releases

Future of the Fleet External Media Page
Date Title Link
The San Diego Union-Tribune
Sept. 14, 2017 Navy Brass Pledge Fast Fixes to Rash of Navy Collisions View Here
Stars and Stripes
Sept. 20, 2017 New Navy Unit Will Keep Tabs on Warship Readiness in Western Pacific View Here
New York Times
Sept. 27, 2017 Navy Returns to Compasses and Pencils to Help Avoid Collisions at Sea View Here
Commander, Naval Surface Force, United States Pacific Fleet
Dec. 20, 2017 Charting New Course on Junior Officer Bridge Proficiency View Here
Dec. 19, 2017 Enhancing Safety and Warfighting: New Surface Force Policy Directs Rest View Here
Oct. 31, 2017 Organization to Oversee Readiness in the Western Pacific Established View Here
Oct. 20, 2017 Circadian Rhythm Being Implemented on Navy Surface Ships View Here
Oct. 12, 2017 Surface Forces Assessing if Ships are Ready for Sea View Here
Oct. 02, 2017 Naval Surface Forces Commander Visits Sasebo-Based Ships View Here
Sept. 28, 2017 SURFOR Commander Reviews Readiness of Forward Deployed Ships View Here
Chief of Information
Oct. 02, 2017 Naval Surface Forces Commander Visits Sasebo-Based Ships View Here
Oct. 18, 2017 After Collisions, Navy Will Assess Sea-Readiness of All Surface Ships View Here
U.S. Naval Institute News
Sept 19, 2017 Navy Stands Up Naval Surface Group Western Pacific To Train, Certify Forward-Deployed Surface Ships After Recent Collisions View Here


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