Pizza! Everybody Loves Pizza, But. . .
By Commander Mark Johnson, U.S. Navy
The Navy’s standard core menu was intended to save money by reducing the need for culinary specialists (cooks) on board ships. A closer examination reveals some expensive unintended consequences.
In the mid-2000s, in order to reduce culinary specialist manning on ships—and reap the associated savings in pay, retirement, and heath care benefits—the Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) implemented the Navy standard core menu, whereby pre-prepared and frozen entrées, provided by large food service conglomerates, would make up a significant portion of the daily meals served on Navy vessels. As an example, 55 percent of the food provided to the crew of approximately 5,000 sailors on board the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) falls into the category of a previously prepared frozen entrée.
This reliance on frozen meals and foods of convenience in the standard core menu comes with a significant lifecycle cost in the form of reduced ship operational availability (AO), increased ship infrastructure maintenance costs, and significantly increased waste streams.
Here is how some of these lifecycle costs are incurred through the lens of a couple, common food items that traditionally have been served on Navy ships.
Pizza! Everybody loves pizza, and it has been the traditional Saturday evening meal on board underway naval ships for generations. A close look at the true costs of providing pizza to a crew of 5,000 using the standard core menu versus traditional food preparation helps reveal some significant hidden costs. Under the standard core menu, the crew is served previously prepared frozen pizza manufactured off ship. Assuming a frozen pizza feeds four sailors, 1,250 pizzas are needed for a typical Saturday evening meal. Individually wrapped pizzas (more on that later) are packaged eight to a cardboard box. Approximately 40 cardboard pizza boxes fit onto a standard pallet (the normal method of delivery to a ship by replenishment at sea [RAS]). The math shows it takes four pallets of pizza delivered to a CVN to prepare the meal.
Using the traditional method, pizza was prepared by culinary specialists using flour, pizza sauce, cheese, and toppings. A typical recipe required 1 cup (8 ounces) of flour for the dough, water, yeast, 3 ounces of pizza sauce, and 0.5 pounds of cheese. Scaling that recipe up to provide 1,250 pizzas required:
• 625 pounds of flour
• 30 one-gallon cans of pizza sauce
• 62 ten-pound bags of shredded cheese
Only one of the above items (cheese) required refrigeration, and all could have easily been delivered on two pallets, a 50 percent reduction in transport volume to the ship.
So how are ship lifecycle costs influenced by this example? The first effect to consider is one that is hard to quantify but of concern to operational commanders: ship’s AO. On deployment in a contested environment, one of the times that a ship is least operationally useful and most vulnerable is during replenishment at sea, when the ship is typically not able to engage its primary weapon system (for an aircraft carrier this means no flight operations). The ship is also more vulnerable to attack as a result of its restricted ability to maneuver. Because of the increased volume required for the standard core menu, the limiting factor for duration of RAS on a deployed carrier has become food delivery and the associated retrograde of food waste back to the delivery ship (empty pallets, plastic waste pucks, etc.). The delivery of fuel and ammunition typically takes less time than the delivery of food. Therefore the overall duration of the RAS (and the associated decrease in AO and increased time of vulnerability) is driven by delivery of food to the ship.
In addition, because food waste retrograde does not occur until the next RAS (usually about a week later), this increased waste and retrograde stream significantly contribute to the size of the “trash mountain” in hangar bay three. This was recently identified as a significant damage control concern by Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) because the installed fire-fighting systems would be unable to extinguish a major fire within the piled material. From a manpower perspective it also takes additional sailors and time to move the increased volume of food below, but the Navy did not increase shipboard manning to account for this workload.
The standard core menu also causes a significant increase in cost to maintain ships’ infrastructure. By its nature, most of the food (55 percent) provided under the core menu must be frozen and therefore stored in freeze boxes on board ship. Almost every class of ship being operated today was designed prior to this menu and is therefore woefully under capacity to store the amount of frozen food required. Consequently the dry provision storage on a typical ship is now significantly underused. The typical freeze box is normally stuffed to the rafters, decreasing its efficiency and increasing the costs to maintain the overworked infrastructure.
As a corollary, the thaw boxes used to bring food up to temperature prior to being cooked also are undersized for the increased demand, making it necessary to thaw food within the galley spaces. This increases the possibility of spoilage and potential food poisoning.
Over the past couple of years, the average repair costs to maintain reefers on board CVNs has been approximately $800,000 per ship, or $8 million dollars annually across the class. In addition, the overworked reefers have a bad habit of failing at the most inopportune times. Prior to its 2014 deployment, the USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77), our newest Nimitz-class CVN, had to conduct its composite training unit exercise with 15 temporary “connex” reefer boxes in hangar bay one because of failures in both its forward and aft reefer units. This significantly limited the available space to conduct aircraft maintenance and led to a substantial increase in workload for the crew who had to constantly move food from the hangar bay to the mess decks for meal preparation. This is a glaring, but by no means the only, recent example of a CVN having to get under way with temporary reefers because of failures in a ship’s overworked system brought on by the core menu’s increased frozen storage needs.
This lack of reliability has been brought forth as the number one CVN material concern of the naval aviation requirements group for the past two years. As a consequence, the Navy is pursuing an extensive and expensive ship alteration to increase reliability of reefer systems on CVNs. (The ship alteration, however, will not increase frozen food storage capacity.)
The core menu also has considerably increased the waste stream volume that every ship has to process. Continuing the example of frozen versus fresh pizza, each frozen pizza is packaged in a cellophane wrapper that needs to be melted in a plastic waste processor and a cardboard backing and cardboard box that need to be processed in a pulper.
Another glaring example of increased waste is the individual breakfast cereal serving. A third of the plastic waste volume processed by a CVN consists of individual cereal serving containers. A typical CVN RAS might consist of 20 pallets of these containers. In the past, bulk cereal was provided in serving stations on the mess decks because ships did not have the dry storage capacity to store individual cereal containers.
The Navy standard core menu has significantly increased ships’ total lifecycle costs. While reduced culinary specialist manning undoubtedly saves money, the pendulum probably has swung too far in the other direction. Is the reduction in personnel costs worth the loss in operational availability, increased ship vulnerability, higher maintenance costs, larger waste streams, and poorer quality of life for the crew? Further study of the core menu’s unintended consequences would be a good Great Green Fleet Initiative.
Commander Johnson is a Navy Engineering Duty Officer who graduated from Michigan State University in 1996. He is a certified nuclear engineer officer with two master’s degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He currently is serving as the chief engineer on board the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69). Commander Johnson hates frozen pizza.
SEALs Show the Way for Surface Warfare
By Lieutenant Benjamin Olivas, U.S. Navy
In June of this year I reported to the Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) Headquarters in San Diego to help teach our new, prospective warfare tactics instructors (WTIs) how to effectively educate their audiences. WTIs are a new asset in the surface community. We are educated and trained to help ships’ commanding officers and wardrooms understand the latest tactics and doctrine to help our Navy retain the tactical advantage against our peer adversaries. WTIs specialize in one of three areas: integrated air and missile defense (IAMD), surface and antisurface warfare (SUW/ASW), and amphibious warfare (AMW). I specialize in IAMD, and in addition to teaching future WTIs, I provide instruction on how to defend our ships against air and missile threats. After nearly six months of training, I was ready to teach. My boss, the WTI program manager, had other plans.
He asked me if I would attend the Naval Special Warfare SEAL Instructor Qualification Course (NSW SEAL IQC) held at the SEAL compound at Naval Base Coronado. As part of our search for best practices to deliver a high-quality baseline course for our future WTIs, SMWDC took inspiration and lessons learned from our TOPGUN aviator counterparts in Fallon, Nevada. My boss also knew that the NSW community, which produces its own high-quality instructors, could potentially offer an approach that would benefit our program.
As in any first day of class, everything was a little uncomfortable. Being the only one wearing the Navy working uniform, lieutenant bars, a surface warfare officer (SWO) pin, and no trident, I felt like the odd man out. SEALs do not get a lot of opportunities to work with SWOs, but that did not affect their welcome. The SEALs in my class made me feel at home.
Every SEAL in IQC was selected to be a future instructor responsible for training and teaching prospective SEALs going through the NSW pipeline at Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL School (BUD/S) and follow on training commands. They were smart, articulate, highly trained operators with plenty of experience.
Our class spent three weeks learning the essential elements of being an effective NSW instructor. We learned the best instructors display presence, are subject matter experts, and can translate their knowledge through any medium (i.e., verbal, demonstration, whiteboard, or PowerPoint). We also learned that SEAL instructors are good at self-analysis while teaching. The SEALs use two teaching models—VEGA and ARCS—to perfect their presentations. These models form the core of their instructor techniques.
VEGA stands for voice, eyes, gestures, and attitude. Our instructors taught us to: constantly check our voice pitch, pace, and power; make eye contact 95 percent of the time while sweeping the room; avoid distracting personal gestures that detract from the lesson; and have a great attitude about the subject. Using VEGA, a SEAL instructor can gauge his effectiveness with the audience. By consistently reviewing and practicing those elements, an instructor can perfect his teaching skills.
The second model, ARCS, stands for attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction. Instructors must capture and keep their audience’s attention. They must show how the material is relevant to students and how they can use it. As a lecture progresses, students must feel confident they understand the material and must satisfactorily apply their new knowledge. NSW instructors know their students learn by doing, and often retain more knowledge when they teach others how to use it.
SEAL IQC is an interactive course. To ensure the student-instructors were getting the proper amount of repetition and face time with an audience, the course was designed to put prospective instructors in front of their peers 80 percent of the time. By doing so, students became accustomed to public speaking, which helped to reduce nervous ticks and distracting gestures, and generated confidence. Public speaking gave us opportunities to assess our peers and gain more experience evaluating instructor techniques. The experience also demonstrated there is more than one medium to teach students.
In the military we are often taught using PowerPoint, and while NSW instructors helped us to effectively master presentations, the NSW curriculum stressed being able to teach in different ways. Initially, NSW instructors gave us a lesson plan on a certain topic, like weapons familiarization or land navigation, and told us to teach the class using our voices and a whiteboard. We were assessed by the instructors and our peers on VEGA, ARCS, timing, content, organization, use of media, and flexibility. Afterward, we each received constructive feedback and were given time to adjust to our presentations. A week later, we presented the same lesson with PowerPoint slides. Oddly enough, most of us discovered that we performed better without them. Every one of us knew our lessons well, but PowerPoint presentations threw off our natural rhythms. Improving on “slideology” is important, but the lesson plans proved to us student-instructors that we were fully capable of delivering quality lessons by other means.
The most important thing the NSW instructors taught us was to have a deep respect for our predecessors and their accomplishments. During the second and third weeks, my classmates and I were given assignments called “History and Tributes.” We were told to research different periods of NSW history, and then present a brief to our classmates. During those briefs, we were all moved by the noble actions of former operators. Every one of our lectures concluded with a tribute to a SEAL who performed valorous acts on the battlefield or at sea. Many of those tributes involved Medal of Honor citations. Each student then understood why NSW instructors place a high premium on their history—in order to teach skills SEALs must learn, they must truly believe they are carrying the fire forward.
To close out the course, one of the master chiefs left us with the following thought. As an NSW instructor, you will leave fingerprints. Not just on our institution, but on our SEALs. They will carry your lessons into the future. Everything you teach them they will use, and by extension, they will carry you into our history. Leave the best of yourselves imprinted on our finest men and women. Teach them well. We are counting on you.
As I begin teaching future SWO WTIs and ships’ wardrooms, I do so armed with the skills and techniques that the SEALs imbued in me. From VEGA to ARCS, from history to tributes, many of the lessons learned from SEAL IQC are applicable to building a better instructor program at SMWDC, and I am glad that we could learn from the Navy’s “frogmen.”
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I owe a special thanks to IQC instructors, retired SEAL Master Chiefs Richard Knepper, Bob Audiss, and Mark Crampton, as well as retired Submarine Electronics Technician Charles Hurley.
Lieutenant Olivas is a surface warfare officer who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2011. He completed division officer tours on board the USS Paul Hamilton (DDG-60) and the USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112). He is currently the standards officer at Surface and Mine Warfare Development Center in San Diego.
Navy Needs a UAS Cadre
By Lieutenant Commander Matt Carrasco, U.S. Navy Reserve
The U.S. Navy has approximately 400 active and reserve personnel supporting unmanned aviation systems (UAS) activities. There is, however, no comprehensive system within the Navy to track UAS training, operator and maintenance qualifications, critical skills, acquisition experience, test experience, or operational experience across multiple programs of record (PoRs) and non-PoRs.
This is a significant shortfall considering the Navy will spend more than $1.3 billion on UAS in Fiscal Year (FY) 16 and approximately $1.2 billion in FY17. Historically the ratio of personnel to hardware costs run between two and three to one, so the investment in personnel could be $2 to $3 billion in FY16 and FY17. Looking ahead, the number of active component personnel involved in UAS is expected to nearly double by FY19, so getting on top of personnel issues is an urgent need for the Navy.
Fortunately, a precedent exists to formalize the training, tracking, and leadership oversight of emerging skill sets. The space cadre provides an excellent model for the formal establishment of a Navy UAS cadre.
Unmanned aviation has been a growing part of the Navy for more than a decade, from special CNO programs—such as the MQ-9 Reaper Program—to major PoRs, such as the MQ-4C Triton. The number of personnel exposed and assigned to UAS roles has grown steadily, as have associated training and qualification expenses.
Over the past five-years, active and reserve Navy personnel have taken on more responsibility to operate and maintain assets in forward theaters of operation, including small Group III UAVs such as RQ-23 Tiger Shark Copperhead deployments. As a result, there is an urgent need for developing a formalized process to track and maintain human capital.
Naval Aviation’s Investment in UAS
The largest Navy UAS programs today are the Trident MQ-4C ($15B) and the MQ-8 Fire Scout ($3.5B). To allow flexible adaptation and implementation, the Navy opted for a decentralized approach to fleet operational introduction. Each aviation community (the maritime patrol and reconnaissance aviation for the Trident program, for example) oversees preliminary establishment unit (PEU) set-up through a fully staffed operational unit or squadron. In turn, these programs are supported by a wide variety of resources, including experimental test and evaluation squadrons for developmental and operational testing, various program offices, and a host of commercial companies. The complex matrix of participants must develop, test, and integrate capabilities for operational use, while ensuring a pipeline of operators and maintainers to fill manned and unmanned requirements. There are, however, relatively few standards for tracking training, qualifications, and experience beyond a small number of sailors with 836X Navy enlisted classification codes (NECs). What is captured is recorded at local commands or in personnel performance records. Without a standardized tracking system, the Navy could find itself with perishable expertise and at risk of deviating from a cost-wise readiness posture.
The Bureau of Naval Personnel, which manages manning requirements, career progression, promotion and selection boards, and assignments for members of all Navy communities, thus far has not formalized any of these processes for the UAS community. A coordinated, well-communicated approach would facilitate future manpower planning decisions, better inform promotion boards, and improve detailing to leadership and operational roles.
Expanding existing NEC codes to include all rates with documented UAS experience—either as operators or maintenance personnel—would capture experience and facilitate better detailing and promotion. Developing UAS specific additional qualification designations (AQDs) and Navy officer billet codes could ensure the Navy identifies members with critical skill sets and assigns and promotes them accordingly.
Space Cadre Example
The Navy’s space cadre, created in 2003 to meet critical and emerging acquisition and operational expertise in space warfare, is open to active and reserve officers and enlisted professionals as well as federal civilian employees. The program continues to evolve and adapt to changing requirements and needs of the information warfare community. There are currently more than 500 space cadre members.
The space cadre was established in lieu of creating a formal community within the Navy. Its broad purpose includes: informing and providing oversight of science and technology efforts, research-and-development efforts, and major acquisition programs; supporting field trained and capable satellite operators; providing tactical and operational planning inputs and guidance to ensure space capabilities and vulnerabilities are included in maritime planning and execution; and developing future leaders who can represent the Navy’s space-related interests across the Department of Defense.
Though the Navy is increasingly reliant on unmanned systems to conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions, the rapid deployment of UAS platforms has given the Navy a loosely coupled UAS force that is reliant upon joint partners for concepts of operation, understanding threats to UAS operations, career management, training and certification.
The Navy needs UAS expertise from acquisition to general warfighting. Just as everyone needs to know the capabilities of the Navy’s air, expeditionary, surface, and subsurface force, an understanding and ability to apply UAS to a warfighting scenario is fast becoming mission essential.
A Navy UAS cadre would provide leadership, technical expertise, and sustained operational capabilities to meet naval and joint warfighting requirements. Cadre members would:
• Formulate Navy UAS policy
• Conduct UAS related science, technology, research and development
• Acquire Navy, joint, and national unmanned systems
• Operate UAS globally
• Employ UAS strategies and tactics to achieve battlefield dominance
The way ahead is a formalized UAS cadre qualification process that includes and documents personnel qualification standards, formal education (UAS engineering degree from the Naval Post Graduate School or similar), technical schools, and online course material to facilitate advanced knowledge and relevant experience. Navy billets will need to be re-coded to capture UAS experience with appropriate AQDs. UAS manning requirements and career management need to be coordinated to shape the force for a future where UAS play a critical and diverse role.
A More Flexible Force
Over the past ten years, the active-duty restricted line and reserve force have provided the backbone of Navy UAS operations. They have been executing unrestricted line roles with great success and no disruption to a sea-going force. The Navy should leverage this operational expertise.
A UAS squadron could have a mixed model of leadership and staffing, one with leaders from both unrestricted and restricted lines. For example, the traditional port-and-starboard commanding officer/executive officer (CO/XO) fleet-up rotation for an operational command would take on a new dimension by incorporating technical, test, and acquisition expertise into the equation. If a UAS squadron had an unrestricted line CO, then the XO could instead be a chief test pilot (CTP) with the requisite test-pilot school, test squadron, acquisition, and program management experience to complement the unrestricted line leader’s operational experience. Conversely, when the CTP fleets up, the XO could be a traditional unrestricted line operator. The overall squadron would reflect a similar mix of unrestricted line aviators—focused principally on the operational mission—and aerospace engineering duty officers (AEDOs) or aerospace maintenance duty officers (AMDOs) who would be focused on the test, development, and rapid integration of new capabilities into the squadron.
Such an approach would facilitate development and deployment under one construct. Future major command leaders would leave their UAS tours with balanced operational and acquisition experience. Future major program management acquisition leaders would depart the combined operational and development tour with a refined understanding of what the fleet needs, and how it is using the technology operationally. They could incorporate those lessons into future system development.
Serious consideration should be given to re-instituting the AEDO full-time support (FTS) designator for reserve UAS command opportunities. While AEDO and AMDOs are restricted line communities, the breadth of deployments over the past decade is testimony to the fact that acquisition professionals excel in “command at sea” positions, and that success would translate to the reserves under a UAS construct commanded by FTS AEDOs.
To make the most of the UAS systems the Navy is procuring and fielding, it should establish a UAS cadre. The success of the space cadre over more than a decade provides a model for human capital management in a rapidly changing technical field. The Navy’s UAS community can no longer afford to manage its people by flying by the seat of its pants.
Lieutenant Commander Carrasco is a 1996 graduate of the University of San Diego and an aerospace engineering duty officer, formerly a naval flight officer. He flew the P-3C with VP-4 out of Kaneohe, HI. Currently he is a reservist serving on active duty as the Deputy Military Director for Unmanned Systems at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division. Commander Carrasco earned an MBA from Purdue University and an MS in Business Statistics with honors from the University of Southern California.