For surface ships in the U.S. Navy, day-to-day operations can sometimes feel like a cavalcade of inspections, assist visits and assessments across a growing spectrum of warfare areas, programs and processes. Many of these assessments are conducted by different organizations, and in typical Navy fashion, the requirements for each are contained in a handy checksheet.
Unfortunately, because each inspection is independent of the others, the checksheets will often contain redundant (or even worse, contradictory) guidance.
LTJG Kaitlin O’Donnell aimed to improve this process with her Athena pitch for a program called Illumination.
LTJG O’Donnell, the Training Officer onboard USS BENFOLD, proposed the formation of a small functional team whose charge would be to consolidate the requirements found in each checksheet into a single, usable document for each warfare area.
The Illumination Team, while incorporating all requisite guidance into a “one-stop shop,” would also provide program managers with an in-depth local assessment of each area of cognizance prior to any off-ship inspection.
The schedule for the local assessments would be overlaid atop the ship’s schedule through the training cycle. Each area that the ship was responsible for would be scrutinized in depth prior to an assessment, while leaving adequate time to correct deficiencies prior to “game day.”
“It’s a tall order to stay ahead of all these inspections. There are just so many of them!” LTJG O’Donnell said. “Basically, we’re just trying to work smarter and not harder.”
LTJG O’Donnell drafted a command instruction governing the Illumination program, and hopes to implement it onboard BENFOLD prior to commencement of the ship’s training cycle. BENFOLD is presently moored at BAE Systems Shipyard in San Diego undergoing a complex combat systems upgrade to Advanced Capability Build 12.
LTJG O’Donnell said that her goal in the long-term is to create consolidated checksheets for every warfare area over the next year and to share those functional documents with other Guided Missile Destroyers that would eventually have to traverse the guantlet of inspections in preparation for a deployment.
“If we can make it easier to ensure that we’re at our top readiness by consolidating requirements, then we would have more time to focus on training and operating,” LTJG O’Donnell said.