The U.S. Navy is using data analytics to improve surface ship readiness and set targets for the numbers of such ships needed to meet contingencies, a top service official said on Jan. 11.

“This analytic approach allowed us to update our methodology for measuring ship readiness,” Vice Adm. Roy Kitchener, the commander of Naval Surface Forces, told the Surface Navy Association’s conference in Arlington, Va. “We automated the tracking process to improve our prioritization and allocation of resources across the force. Most importantly, by aggregating already available readiness data and re-assessing operational commitments, we now have a pretty good idea of how many ready ships we need at any given time. There’s more work to do, but we now have a number in mind guiding everything we do to produce more ready ships. That number is our North Star.”

Kitchener said that the Navy is applying analytics to maintenance, which Kitchener called the most important factor in improving ship readiness.

“Our maintenance and modernization efforts are capitalizing on our use of data analytics,” he said. “We’ve seen improvements in two key metrics we use to gauge our progress—days of maintenance delay and on-time completion rates. Since 2019, we’ve reduced our days of maintenance delay by 41 percent, and our on-time completion is steadily increasing from 34 percent in fiscal year 2019 to a projected 59 percent for all of 2021 availabilities, including those ongoing that began in fiscal year 2021. We are by no means done with this work or satisfied with our results, but we are seeing progress and continuing to find ways to improve.”

Kitchener said that the Navy wants to reduce adiministrative barriers to integrate class-wide ship upgrades, to validate DDG modernization risks and ways to mitigate such risks, to strengthen fire safety protocols, and establish more expeditionary maintenance hubs for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and the Zumwalt-class (DDG-1000) destroyers.

Lockheed Martin [LMT] is the prime contractor for the Freedom LCS, and Austal USA builds the Independence ships, while General Dynamics’ [GD] Bath Iron Works makes the DDG-1000s.

A Navy LCS task force, established in 2020, has been focusing on 32 key reliability issues on both ship variants to better meet fleet requirements (Defense Daily, June 7, 2021).

Kitchener stood up the LCS task force to analyze, develop and implement improvements to the LCS.