FRCW Sailor earns first depot level certification

FRCW Sailor earns first depot level certification

Aviation Structural Mechanic 1st Class Michael Hammer prepares templates for structural repairs on an F/A-18 Super Hornet.

Aviation Structural Mechanic 1st Class Michael Hammer achieved a level-two advanced composite material repair certification in January that was previously limited to civilian artisans at depot maintenance facilities.

When first stationed at Fleet Readiness Center West (FRCW) in Lemoore, California, in 2009, Hammer was interested in earning his level-two certification. During his second tour there, the Military Depot Level Certification Program was getting started, and he was the first military member to participate.

“This has been an amazing experience. It has been challenging at times, but worth it for all of the knowledge I have gained,” Hammer said.

Hammer sees the significance of training Sailors to be level-two qualified. “I’m hoping this will open many opportunities for others and lead to composites becoming a career Navy Enlisted Classification similar to non-destructive inspection or welding.”

Advanced composite repair is just the first level-two certification available to Sailors and Marines as the workforce proficiency team expands the program to component repairs.

A Sustainment Vision 2020 (SV2020) initiative, the certification program enables Hammer to make advanced composite repairs. Historically, only civilian artisans at depot-level facilities were qualified to make these repairs, which involved shipping parts from the fleet to the depots, often resulting in a long-term down aircraft.

Since his certification, Hammer has performed 80 hours of work on 18 different parts resulting in a savings of more than $4 million in just seven months, according to Keith Johnson, SV2020 deputy director and team lead for workforce proficiency.

“That kind of savings across the enterprise could allow funds to be redirected to other areas of need or simply could reduce the cost of doing business,” Johnson said.

One of the major goals of SV2020 is to reduce turnaround times and costs of aircraft repairs. By enabling Sailors and Marines to receive the training and qualify for this depot-level certification, more parts will be eligible for repair at the squadron or operational-level rather than shipped to intermediate- or depot-level facilities.

“Simply removing the additional steps of packaging and shipping parts, that alone will save days, even weeks. Plus, the shorter turnaround time of the repair puts the part back on the shelf faster, in a ready-for-issue status providing an asset to help keep aircraft mission capable,” Johnson said.

Repairing aircraft at the I-level is also more cost effective. Johnson noted, “Every dollar we save, returns money back to the flying program.”

The workforce proficiency team identified five additional sites for implementation of the program; FRCMA Oceana, FRCNW Whidbey Island, FRCSW North Island, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron (MALS) 16 San Diego and MALS-36 Okinawa.

A coordinator at each site will refer Sailors and Marines for the depot-level certification based on the following criteria:

• Individual’s drive to excel

• Current qualifications including, at a minimum, collateral duty inspector (CDI) qualifications

• Minimum two years left on their enlistment

• Recommendation of division leadership

“These requirements will provide personnel that are somewhat senior and have demonstrated a high level of proficiency in their associated work,” Johnson said, highlighting the importance of finding qualified Sailors and Marines, like Hammer, who will remain at the command.