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Surface Navy 2022: US Navy looks to move away from on-ship contractor reliance

The US Navy (USN) needs to stop relying so much on shipboard contractors for naval operations, according to Admiral Daryl Caudle, commander, US Fleet Forces Command.

“Over the last few decades, our weapons systems and sensors have become more technologically advanced, our training and education programmes have lagged,” Adm Caudle said on 12 January during a speech at the Surface Navy Association National Symposium, which started on 11 January in Arlington, Virginia.

“This lag has degraded our self-correct both at sea and on the pier – where sailors are not trained for, nor do they have the tools required to fix emergent issues,” Adm Caudle noted. “This has created an unsustainable and an unbalanced reliance on the need for ‘onboard-tech assists', which everyone here knows won't be available when things go kinetic.”

To get after this problem, he said, “The navy has invested significantly in programmes like Ready Relevant Learning and Future of Sailor Maintenance to bend that curve. Both of these programmes are central to getting our sailors back to a position of mastery where they can maintain, fight through, and conduct battle damage repair on those weapons systems so they can take a punch and get right back into the fight swiftly with mission command authority.”

The influx of emerging technologies into the naval fleet creates an even greater need for getting a grip on the problem, and the need to integrate new systems efficiently, he noted.

“With all these expanding technologies, we must focus on excellence in force introduction. This is a once-in-a-century time where we are wholesale upgrading the fleet; we've been here before and know the steep costs of what will happen if we do not efficiently and effectively manage these systems through fleet introduction into sustainment,” he said.

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