Naval aviation expands readiness cell to include MH-60R/S helicopters

An MH-60 helicopter belonging to NAS Patuxent River’s Search and Rescue team hovers above the water during a CNAL evaluation exercise simulating the rescue of three downed crash survivors in September 2018.

Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (AIRPAC), and Naval Air Force Atlantic (AIRLANT), expanded the scope of naval aviation’s Maintenance Operations Center (MOC) Jan. 5 to include the MH-60R Seahawk and MH-60S Knighthawk helicopters.

The MH-60 aircraft were added to the MOC’s readiness process, which previously included F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers, E-2C Hawkeyes, E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes, C-2A Greyhounds, and P-8 Poseidons.

The MOC initiative was launched in response to a 2018 memo from then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ directing the Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps to improve mission-capable (MC) rates of their strike fighter aircraft. Based at the Naval Air Force Atlantic headquarters in Norfolk, the MOC enables long-term collaboration among naval aviation stakeholders by bringing together maintenance, supply, engineering and depot experts from across the Naval Aviation Enterprise to improve aircraft operational readiness, i.e. MC rates, through planned maintenance intervals and identifying barriers for resolution.

“We are expanding the scope of the MOC with the end goal of improving and sustaining the number of mission capable MH-60 aircraft,” said MOC Director, Capt. Rich Grove. “We will provide that same focus to all of the platforms to continue improving the lethality of naval aviation as a whole with continuous improvements to the entire (readiness) chain.”

Grove added that the MOC will improve supply and logistics channels, component repair, and squadron-level maintenance activities for the Navy’s helicopter community.

“The MOC is a huge improvement to the way we do business and is one of many naval aviation success stories,” said Rear Adm. John Meier, Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic, who added that expanding the MOC to include other types of aircraft increased MC rates for forward-deployed aviation squadrons, Fleet Replacement Squadrons, and test and development squadrons.

“Maintenance leaders from each squadron participate in the teleconferences to run through the list of individual aircraft, addressing each constraint and identifying solutions on the spot, in real time, with every person in the room sharing the same goal, to take ownership of constraints that fall under their responsibility,” said Dave Ferreira, the MOC deputy director. “Since its inception, the MOC has returned hundreds of MC aircraft to the flight line.”

Ferreira added that at any given time, 40 aircraft that have flown in the past year and are scheduled to fly within the next 30 days, are under review by the MOC.

“In coordination with commercial industry best practices and lessons learned from the Super Hornet and Growler sustainment initiative, the Naval Aviation Enterprise has developed a proven process that identifies barriers to achieving mission capability, vigorously swarms those barriers and delivers results,” said Vice Adm. Kenneth Whitesell, Commander, Naval Air Forces and Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. “This culture change is being rolled out across all naval type/model/series aircraft and will drive the velocity and scale required for cost transformation. We must deliver warfighting readiness in a less costly fashion.”