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Military Sealift Command’s Maintenance of Prepositioning Ships DODIG-2018-151

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Objective:

We determined whether the Military Sealift Command (MSC) ensured that Government-owned, contractor-operated (GOCO) prepositioning ships received the required maintenance.

Background:

Prepositioning ships, which are managed by the Prepositioning Program Management Office, ensure rapid availability of military equipment and supplies. MSC uses contractors to operate and maintain its GOCO prepositioning fleet. To guide the contractors’ maintenance efforts, the MSC Engineering Directorate develops preventative maintenance plans in the Shipboard Automated Maintenance Management (SAMM) system. The contractors’ responsibilities are driven by the preventative maintenance plans. Therefore, the maintenance actions prescribed in the preventative maintenance plans should list all equipment that needs to be maintained on the ship and should provide instructions on how the contractors are to perform the maintenance.

Finding:

MSC did not ensure its GOCO prepositioning ships received the required maintenance. Specifically, MSC personnel did not maintain complete and accurate preventative maintenance plans, which identify the contractors’ maintenance responsibilities. In addition, MSC did not verify that contractor personnel completed the contract requirements related to the preventative maintenance of the GOCO prepositioning fleet.

MSC personnel did not maintain complete and accurate preventative maintenance plans because MSC did not update technical drawings and manuals to replicate the ships’ configurations and provide training to all SAMM users on the system’s functionality. MSC did not verify contractor personnel completed the contract requirements related to preventative maintenance because the MSC Prepositioning Program Management and Contracting Offices:

  •  awarded contracts that did not state specific requirements for the contractors’ training and use of SAMM;         
  •  did not ensure a contracting officer’s representative or contracting officer’s technical representative was present to oversee the contractor; and  
  •  did not communicate contractual deficiencies to the contractors in writing.

As a result, MSC is unable to accurately assess the condition and readiness of the GOCO ships, which has impeded the combatant commanders’ ability to carry out planned operations. For example, the Blount Island Command, Operations Division Deputy Director of the Marine Corps Technical Assistance and Advisory Team provided two examples where a prepositioning ship was unable to attend planned exercises because of maintenance deficiencies, including one instance where a ship carrying the Marine Corps’ equipment developed a hole in the hull during transit to participate in an exercise. In addition, preventative maintenance is an integral method for sustaining equipment through its useful life, which reduces the amount of repairs needed during overhaul. Therefore, by not ensuring its GOCO prepositioning ships received the required maintenance, MSC may have contributed to the $139.9 million in unplanned overhaul repair costs that MSC prepositioning ships endured from November to March. The unplanned repairs also required the ships to spend more time in the dry dock, which resulted in MSC running over the planned time in dry dock from November to March.

Finally, MSC relies entirely on contractors for the operation and maintenance of prepositioning ships and has committed $544.7 million to such contracts. Without complete and accurate preventative maintenance plans, which identify and provide instructions on the contractors’ maintenance responsibilities, and without effective oversight of the contractors, which ensures all contractual requirements are fulfilled, MSC committed $544.7 million to contracts without assurance that the contractors would execute all of the required maintenance on its prepositioning fleet.

Recommendations:

We recommend that the Director, MSC Engineering Directorate:

  • update the technical manuals and drawings for its prepositioning fleet;  
  • revise MSC policies so that all system users are provided initial and annual refresher training on the proper use of SAMM, including each of the modules in SAMM and of the feedback log; and 
  • update SAMM so that its data fields will provide users with clear choices, capture preventative maintenance information more accurately, and allow for MSC to extract aggregate metrics for assisting with maintenance planning and decision making.

We also recommend that the Director, MSC Contracts for Charters and Ship Operations Division, in conjunction with the Program Manager, Prepositioning Program Management Office:

  •  review and modify all contracts to develop specific requirements for all users to attend formal SAMM training and align contract language with MSC procedures that describe the contractors’ roles and responsibilities for using SAMM; 
  • ensure that contracting officers appoint a qualified contracting officer’s representative or contracting officer’s technical representative to conduct consistent surveillance of contractors at sea and during shipyard availabilities using a quality assurance surveillance plan; and  
  • document future contractual deficiencies through formal, written coordination with the contractor.

Management Comments and Our Response:

The MSC Commander, agreed with all of our recommendations. On behalf of the Director, MSC Engineering Directorate, the MSC Commander, stated that MSC plans to:

  • update the technical drawings and manuals for the prepositioning fleet;  
  • revise training policy documents, to incorporate requirements for initial and annual SAMM system training; and  
  • update SAMM with data fields that provide users with clear choices, capture preventative maintenance information more accurately, and allow for MSC to extract aggregate metrics to assist with maintenance planning and decision making.

 

On behalf of the Director, MSC Contracts for Charters and Ship Operations Division, and Program Manager, MSC Prepositioning Program Management Office, the MSC Commander, stated that MSC plans to:

  • modify all operating contracts to require formal SAMM training and detailed requirements for the contractors’ expected use of  SAMM;  
  • appoint an assistant contracting officer’s representative to conduct regular surveillance of contractors during shipyard overhauls and at sea using a  quality assurance surveillance plan;  and  
  • document and address future contractual deficiencies through formal, written coordination with the contractor, such as through Contract Deficiency Reports and  Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System  ratings.

These recommendations are resolved and will be closed once we verify that the actions management agreed to are implemented. Please see the Recommendations Table on the next page for the status of the recommendations.

This report is a result of Project No. D2018-D000JB-0068.000.