Replenishment at Sea Planner Program

In July, we took the opportunity to interview the Combat Logistics Force (CLF) schedulers in both Fifth and Seventh Fleet to get their feedback about the Replenishment at Sea Planner (RASP) Program and their take on arguably one of the most cumbersome tasks in their respective AOR: sustaining dynamic customer fleets at sea.  

2015.08.SG(RASP-Branding)

LT Nathan Peck, CTF-53 (Fifth Fleet)

Q: Can you explain what some of the difficulties that you encounter with scheduling?

A: Changes, dynamic customer schedule changes and being able to adjust the CLFs schedule to maintain support. We also have limited ports to replenish CLFs out of: Djibouti, Fujairah, Jebel Ali, and Bahrain. That’s it, our customers are 99% dependent on us since they do not self-replenish in port.

Q: How do you go about scheduling within this Area of Responsibility (AOR)?

A: We plan as far out as you can, it’s doing the long range schedule and that’s where RASP makes it easy. About once a month or sooner, I’ll go through the next six months and just look at the schedule. And every single time I find, a better way to schedule the ships. Like ok we can do this a little differently, and that, so by the time the schedule gets near execution, we’re at a point where we can support the customer, increase CLF port time giving the crew some rest and save money in the process.

Q: You had mentioned RASP, what is that and what has it done for your command?

 A: RASP is a program that basically helps us do our job better. It reduces the admin burden of creating products, allows us to look beyond 45 days with planning and has enabled us to self-assess how efficiently we are running the CLF fleet. We use it for running scenarios, analyzing existing courses of action and monitoring the customers long range plans.

Q: What recommendations would you make to your successors?

A: Take ownership of the schedule and challenge the status quo. Schedule the most efficient way possible and such that it will also support the customer’s need of being replenished every few days or whatever the case may be. Provide a consistent schedule that works for your customers and build your CLF port days and maintenance into it. The more consistency you build into your schedule the better off you will be when nothing goes as planned.

 

LCDR Gentry Debord, CTG-73 (Seventh Fleet)

 Q: What is your job in a nutshell? And what are your biggest obstacles?

A: I keep track of all the USS ships’ schedules and I schedule the CLF ships to execute replenishments at sea. The obstacles? Seventh Fleet is a huge area of water to maintain. So, that’s an obstacle, having a limited amount of CLF assets in a big area, it’s very hard to try to accommodate everybody but, we do a good job on that.

Q: What considerations do you take into account when scheduling the CLFs?

A: Well the commodity that drives a schedule more than anything is fuel, but sometimes ammo can drive a schedule. We tend to look at cost when scheduling and so we take a business case analysis approach to it. Sometimes we don’t have the option and we can’t look at it from a business case analysis; we just have to meet the mission and cost is not a factor. But we try to limit those expensive deals and that’s why it’s very important on this job to plan months ahead of time so we don’t have these to jump through hoops at the last minute.

Q: Do you all rely heavily on group meetings to plan schedules or is there any sort of common technology you all are using?

A: So internally everyone has access to the notional schedule that RASP produces. So that’s pretty much the driving force, you know my job is to keep that up to date. Anybody can look at that and tell us what ships are doing on a day-to-day basis. So that’s kind of internally how we communicate the schedule. Once everyone is on the same page with the schedules then I go ahead and plan the CLFs schedule in RASP.

Q: So is it RASP that is helping you schedule or are you the one making all of the decisions?

A: It would be great to be able to push the “solver” button and then RASP schedules everything out for me and be accurate but right now it’s not there. There are too many other factors that the program doesn’t know. But what it will do is provide about 10-50% of the schedule in any given month. Recently it has been on the lower end of that because of the planning for exercises going on now. But for the most part it will provide either a good starting point for my CLF schedule or at least a second opinion for it. At the end of the day, it is still very much a hands on schedule that involves a lot of communication to make it work.

Q: What recommendations would you have for your successors?

A: One of the hardest part of the scheduling process is not really the changes day-to-day, it’s the starting from scratch. From a schedule you have three to four months from now and trying to put the ships in the right position trying to schedule the RAS yourself takes a lot of time. I would tell them to keep on trying to push to get the solver to be able to help them in that aspect to make it a little easier cause if we do have that solver running very good a new guy could come in and it would be a lot easier, there is less chance for them to make mistakes, there is a smaller learning curve for them to make those hard decisions three to four months out.

The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) approaches the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204) before a refueling-at-sea. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ricardo R. Guzman

The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) approaches the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204) before a refueling-at-sea.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ricardo R. Guzman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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