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US Naval Surface Forces commander looks to expand condition-based maintenance

Having required the inclusion of condition-based maintenance plus (CBM+) in the development of the US Navy (USN) Constellation-class guided-missile frigate (FFG 62), the service is looking to expand CBM+ principles to other surface ships, according to Vice Admiral Roy Kitchener, commander of Naval Surface Forces and Pacific Fleet Naval Surface Force.

“We can take some of that technology for FFG 62 and put it on an LPD (amphibious transport dock) 17 or a gas-turbine engine to help us mitigate some of that risk,” Vice Adm Kitchener said on 18 October during a keynote address at the American Society of Naval Engineers Fleet Maintenance and Modernization Symposium 2021.

“There's no reason we should not be able to do that,” Vice Adm Kitchener added.

CMB+ combines emerging advancements in technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and prognostics software, helping sailors “to find and fix things,” Vice Adm Kitchener said, in real time.

“This information we put into CBM systems must be transmitted off the ship to all of us to analyse,” he said. “But more importantly, our sailors need to be trained on it, they need it available to them, so they troubleshoot systems.”

Vice Adm Kitchener also noted, “AI and machine learning are tools that transform the effectiveness of all our processes.”

Referring to AI, he said, “We need to embrace it, not be afraid of it.”

The USN, he pointed out, had recently established an analytics group to focus on machine learning across the surface force “to improve our readiness and effectiveness in a measurable way”.

The group will manage the “massive amounts” and “troves” of data created by the surface force, he said.

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