To achieve a more responsive and more readily deployable fleet of surface combatants, the Navy adopted the Fleet Response Plan (FRP) in 2003 to replace its traditional ship maintenance and readiness cycle. The goal of the FRP is to have non-deployed ships achieve a high level of readiness earlier and to maintain high readiness longer so that they can deploy on short notice. However, a challenge of implementing the FRP is establishing the processes and procedures, as well as a ready industrial base, to facilitate maintenance planning and execution to meet the now unpredictable FRP surge requirements and maintenance demands. By concentrating specifically on the DDG-51 class of destroyers, the authors of this report look at the effects the FRP has had thus far and determine whether maintenance resources are meeting maintenance demands and whether related industry resources have been coordinated effectively. Overall, the authors determine that the initiative appears to have promising effects but that more time will be needed to assess maintenance supply and demand apart from the increase of funding tied to military operations post-September 11, 2001.
The U.S. Navy has implemented the Fleet Response Plan (FRP), which provides for an increased surge capability by Carrier Strike Groups. Although regularly scheduled six-month deployments still occur, aircraft carriers achieve a high state of readiness early and sustain the readiness for a longer period. This increased readiness provides the Navy with a more responsive aircraft carrier fleet and with the ability to employ aircraft carriers more flexibly. The analysis focused on the demands of ten Nimitz-class carriers, which will be in operation over the next two decades. We used a model based on the supply of and demand for workers at the primary naval shipyards that service aircraft carriers, to estimate the magnitude and timing of work (demand). The modeling used naval shipyard-provided data that forecast the supply of workers and maintenance demands of aircraft carriers and all other ships. We varied the aircraft carrier maintenance cycles and size of work packages to focus on the effects that they would have on the demand for workers at Norfolk Naval Shipyard and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility. The Program Executive Office for Aircraft Carriers tasked the RAND Corporation to examine the effect of the extension of time between depot maintenance availabilities, the increased use of continuous-maintenance periods, and the potential reductions in the size of the aircraft carrier fleet on the industrial base for aircraft carrier maintenance-the public and private shipyards and depots that maintain and repair aircraft carriers. The modeling revealed that increasing carrier maintenance-cycle length can reduce the number of carriers in maintenance and make more carriers available to deploy or surge. However, implementing longer cycles must be timed carefully to prevent problems in managing the workforce of the maintenance industrial base. This report should be of interest to persons concerned with the operational availability and readiness of Navy aircraft carriers under the Fleet Response Plan, including those in the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), the Fleet Forces Command, and the Type Commanders.