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Corrosion Executives Chart a New Vision for Corrosion Prevention in the Navy

On January 6, 2014, Matt Koch and Captain Jimmy Cox began their respective two-year appointments as the Navy’s Corrosion Prevention and Control Executive and Deputy Navy Corrosion Prevention and Control Executive. Previously, Koch served as the Program Manager for the Marine Corps Corrosion Prevention and Control Program. In addition to his new post, Capt. Cox is chief of staff for the NAVSEA (Naval Sea Systems Command) Reserve Program.

Under the leadership of previous Navy Corrosion Executive Stephen J. Spadafora, the Department of the Navy made significant progress toward addressing the impact of corrosion. The Department also made great strides in its effort to put policies and processes in place that enable programs to incorporate corrosion prevention and control (CPC) planning early and frequently across the acquisition and sustainment life cycles. These initiatives directly support the Department’s mission to “institutionalize CPC as a life-cycle best practice.” CorrDefense Editor at Large Cynthia Greenwood interviewed Koch and Cox about the path they intend to chart in their new positions:

CorrDefense: In your discussions with program officers and personnel, you have found that acquisition program personnel strive to understand and execute corrosion-planning requirements but lack Department-level policy and guidance that clearly define those requirements. Do you see this as a policy gap for the Department? Are there other policy gaps that exist? In your new role as Navy Corrosion Executive, how do you propose to close these gaps?

Matt Koch

Matt Koch: The importance of CPC planning as early as possible in the acquisition process cannot be understated, but it should also be recognized that program managers must balance hundreds of competing requirements against established cost, schedule, and performance milestones. Corrosion can, and does, have a very real impact on all three of these areas, as well as life cycle costs, safety, and availability. This is not to say that critical mission capabilities should be traded away at the expense of corrosion performance, but rather, that assessing the impacts of corrosion during design can deliver a more capable, sustainable, cost-effective product to the warfighter.

There is also a renewed emphasis by leadership within the Department of Defense to reduce life cycle costs and improve materiel readiness. Corrosion prevention and control costs the DoD more than $20 billion annually, and a 2004 report by the Defense Science Board states that as much as 30 percent of these costs can be avoided by “preventing more and repairing less.” To prevent more, we must equip program managers and acquisition professionals with the policy, guidance, and analysis tools to design preventative measures into their systems.

As the Department of the Navy’s Corrosion Control and Prevention Executive, one of my statutory responsibilities is to evaluate the effectiveness of existing policy in minimizing the adverse effects of corrosion on the Department’s assets. There are currently DoD instructions and specific Department of the Navy systems command instructions for corrosion, but the Department does lack an overarching policy instruction that institutionalizes acquisition planning and life cycle sustainment requirements. Such an instruction would provide clear CPC planning requirements for program managers and enable them to request the fiscal and manpower resources necessary to prevent and control corrosion.

To that end, my predecessor, Steve Spadafora, and the Department’s Corrosion Cross-Functional Team have been evaluating the various Department-level policy avenues for establishing these requirements. Similarly, the DoD has undertaken a complete rewrite of the instruction outlining Operation of the Defense Acquisition System, DoDI 5000.02, and it includes updated corrosion requirements. After the approval and implementation of this new instruction, I expect to do a final review of the Navy’s policy posture, submit recommendations for action, and execute such actions as approved by senior leadership.

CorrDefense: What other challenges do you propose to tackle as you begin your new term as Navy Corrosion Executive?

Matt Koch: With a background in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware, I began my career as an engineer at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In that role, I supported efforts to evaluate new products and processes for preventing and controlling corrosion. We developed test plans in accordance with existing protocols and requirements, tested a given product, and made a determination to implement based on product performance and the Navy’s needs. In my subsequent role as the Program Manager for the Marine Corps Corrosion Prevention and Control program, I established a similar product evaluation process aimed at ensuring proven products were transitioned to the fleet for use. As the Navy Corrosion Executive, I miss those laboratory days, but have not forgotten the importance that RDT&E (Research, Development, Technology, and Engineering) plays in equipping our warfighters.

Because part of my responsibility is to look at Department-level corrosion programs and activities, I see several organizations focused on research and development of new products. Most, however, are focused on specific applications and do not necessarily talk to each other. I would like to address this by bringing together these communities and discussing ways to increase collaboration and information sharing. In particular, I would like to work with the Chief of Naval Research to develop an overarching science and technology roadmap to guide the Department’s portfolio investments for corrosion. This would include internal and external investments from stakeholders such as the Office of Naval Research, Office of the Secretary of the Defense, and Small Business Innovative Research initiatives.

As you can imagine, it will be a real challenge, but there are so many opportunities to collaborate more effectively and leverage the combined experience and resources of our research and development communities.

CorrDefense: In March 2013, Mr. Spadafora told CorrDefense that the nature of collaboration and information sharing among maintenance personnel from the Navy’s largest system commands had greatly improved since the 2011 Joint Corrosion Team Summit. How do you plan to build on these accomplishments in the area of Communication and Outreach?

Matt Koch: Communication and outreach is of paramount importance for the Navy corrosion community. In fact, it is one of the five strategic focus areas that we have laid out in our annual Strategic Plan for CPC. We have devoted considerable effort over the last five years to developing training material and guidance documents for the acquisition and sustainment communities. However, if we do not get that information to the end users effectively, we cannot expect to see improvements in the targeted areas.

To this end, I have already begun working with Secretariat leadership to establish a Department of the Navy Corrosion Executive Web page on the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (RDT&E) Web site. It is intended to serve as a portal for acquisition and sustainment professionals, both civilian and military, to further understand the importance of corrosion and identify the resources available to them.

Second, I will continue to advocate for technical community participation in knowledge-sharing meetings and symposia. These forums represent valuable opportunities to exchange knowledge, collaborate on systemic issues, remove “stovepipe” barriers that prevent DoD-wide communication, and network with colleagues.

CorrDefense: Captain Jimmy Cox recently joined the Navy Corrosion Executive office as the Deputy Navy Corrosion Executive to help the Department identify and evaluate existing policies that direct corrosion mitigation activities for reserve assets, including vessels, aircraft, land vehicles, and infrastructure. Jimmy, can you tell us a little bit about your background and what your active duty and reserve experience will bring to the office?

Captain Jimmy Cox

Jimmy Cox: As a qualified Engineering Duty Officer in the Naval Reserves, I have had several opportunities to see, first-hand, the impact of corrosion on our Navy. My duties have included an assignment to SUPSHIP (Supervisor of Ship Building) Newport News as Project Officer for the Complex Refueling and Overhaul of the USS Enterprise (CVN 65); the conversion of a former bulk cargo ship into a Roll-on/Roll-off ship designated as T-AKR 296 Gordon for the Military Sealift Command; sea trials for USS George Washington (CVN 73); and submarine new construction. Specializing in ship maintenance, I have also served on the staff of Commander, Surface Forces Atlantic, as a Type Desk Officer and Electronic Material Officer. In 2006, I served an eight-month, ground combat tour with the Army’s 354th Civil Affairs Brigade in Baghdad. My most recent assignment was being recalled to active duty to serve as the NAVSEA Reserve Component Engineering Duty Officer Community Manager.

As a result of these assignments, I have been able to experience each major step of an asset’s life cycle, from new construction and testing to mid-life upgrades, to in-theater deployment and reserve status. Corrosion influences are impacted by decisions made in each of these areas, and it is this perspective that I feel will be most valuable in my role as Deputy Corrosion Control and Prevention Executive. Beyond my Service experience, I hold Master’s and Bachelor of Science degrees in Materials Engineering from North Carolina State University, and have thirty years of industry experience in microelectronics and electronics packaging. This experience also aligns well with some of the corrosion issues the Navy has traditionally dealt with for C5I (Command, Control Communication, Computers, and Intelligence) equipment and I hope to provide additional perspectives on these issues for the Navy Corrosion Executive.

CorrDefense: As the Deputy Corrosion Executive, can you talk more about the approach you will be taking to assess the corrosion challenges facing the reserve components, including the cost of maintenance and efforts to maintain a reserve fleet in “ready” status to support the Department’s needs?

Jimmy Cox: The first step in this process is to frame the discussion and scope of this effort appropriately. In its most frequent use, the word “reserves” typically refers to United States Navy Reserves (USNR) personnel and associated equipment. In actuality, the USNR is only one component of the larger Sea Service reserves. Sea Service reserve assets stretch beyond the USNR and, even, the Department of the Navy, to include multiple U.S. government agencies and asset categories. These categories include both active, operational assets and inactive assets maintained in various states of readiness.

As an example, consider the Navy Surface Fleet. Most people consider the Ship Battle Force as the active, grey-hulled USS (United States Ship) and USNS (United States Naval Ship) vessels. Upon closer review, however, the Ship Battle Force is revealed to include USS and USNS vessels, as well as assets from the Military Sealift Command and six vessels from the Naval Reserve Force Active. In a wartime posture, the Surface Fleet would greatly expand its capacity through the large-scale mobilization of a number of auxiliary and inactive vessels consisting of auxiliary and sealift capabilities from the Military Sealift Command; auxiliary ships from the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration National Defense Reserve Fleet and the Ready Reserve Fleet; and the wartime augmentation by the United States Coast Guard.

So, as you can see, the “reserve fleet” is a complex network of active and inactive assets controlled by multiple organizations spanning several government agencies. However, this is not the only layer of complexity. The assets managed by each of these organizations are in varying states of readiness. Some are ready for immediate deployment; some are maintained for reactivation within days and others within months; some are used as floating warehouses of salvageable parts; some are destined for foreign navies under Foreign Military Sales agreements; some are awaiting transfer to private control for use as display ships; and others are simply being readied for the scrapyard. To effectively gauge the materiel readiness of the “reserve fleet,” it is necessary to limit our scope to only those activation-capable vessels.

CorrDefense: As part of your new responsibility, how will you begin incorporating this network of reserve assets into the vast array of weapons systems earmarked within the Department’s CPC planning vision?

Jimmy Cox: Thus, my present efforts are focused on identifying the claimancies, or owners, of each asset, and the relevant policies and programs in place to maintain them. In some instances, the Navy has a long-standing relationship with the owners. In other instances, new relationships must be established. Beyond the Surface Fleet, we must also focus on the air, ground, support equipment, and infrastructure assets that would play a role in a wartime surge.

After successfully scoping the breadth and depth of reserve assets, we will develop a methodology to assess the effectiveness of existing maintenance policies, programs, and practices, and identify gaps and opportunities to increase readiness and collaboration.

In executing this study, it is important to keep in mind that reserve assets are primarily an insurance policy against the onset of a major war. Further, corrosion prevention and control is only one facet of the material readiness discussion. Due to the high cost of maintenance, it may not be possible to maintain all assets in a ready state. However, providing a force readiness assessment is not the focus of this effort. Rather, we are looking to identify the established corrosion prevention requirements, assess the effectiveness of existing policies and programs in meeting those requirements, and provide recommendations for any identified gaps to ensure these assets are maintained in the desired state while minimizing costs.

CorrDefense: In the Annual Report on Corrosion for Fiscal Year 2013, it was noted that progress was made on the strategic initiative to “institutionalize a formal organizational construct for a Department-level CPC program.” Your predecessor, Steve Spadafora, spoke about this as a long-term initiative. Can you talk further about what this means and how the Navy is organizing itself to address corrosion with a Department-level focus?

Matt Koch: Sure. As you know, Congress established the military department corrosion executives with Public Law 110-417 and provided a list of duties. In implementing this requirement, the Navy designated the responsibilities of the CCPE as a “two-year, other duties as assigned” position. This means that the first individual to serve as CCPE, Mr. Dail Thomas, wore two hats: his “day job” hat and his “corrosion executive” hat. While executing these duties simultaneously, it became clear that the next evolution of the CCPE should be a full-time position. Thus, when Mr. Spadafora took over, he became the first Navy CCPE to assume the duties as a full-time responsibility.

For the first time, the CCPE was able to have a singular focus on understanding the position and what fulfillment of the duties entailed. In doing so, Steve undertook an initiative to lay out all of the CCPE duties, translate them into working requirements, and evaluate several organizational structures that would satisfy the requirements. What he found was that a single individual, with one contract support staff, could not effectively execute all of the responsibilities of the office as intended. Therefore, in the annual report he proposed an organizational structure to be established over a five-year period, which includes the addition of three full-time, rotational details in the areas of Program Assessment, Policy, and Research and Development. Over the next three years, we hope to fill one of these rotations per year, subject to availability and funding.

As with any organization, there are significant hurdles to overcome in terms of fiscal and manpower requirements. Fortunately, we have the support of leadership who understand the corrosion challenge and recognize the potential to reduce the impact of corrosion on the warfighter. During my tenure as Navy Corrosion Executive, I plan to continue implementing this organizational construct as funding allows. It is only through a coordinated, Department-level approach that some of our biggest corrosion challenges will be addressed.

CorrDefense: Looking beyond your tenure as the Navy Corrosion Executive, what would you say would be a long-lasting challenge regarding corrosion? What might you be able to do during your tenure to begin addressing this problem?

Matt Koch: When I think about the long-lasting challenges for corrosion, two things immediately come to mind: accelerated lab testing and advanced modeling and simulation. Although corrosion technologies have seen a several-fold improvement over the last three decades, it remains that the most accurate method for analyzing the impacts of corrosion is long-term material exposure in an operational environment. By long-term exposure, I mean years, not days or months. In a typical acquisition program where several thousand unique materials are employed, it is prohibitive to both cost and schedule to defer design decisions until long-term material exposure testing is completed. As a result, design specifications are developed and platforms are constructed whose life cycle performance characteristics are not fully understood until several years after delivery to the fleet. When possible, the corrosion community uses the results to retrofit material solutions and update life cycle planning to include more frequent preservation. However, either case represents a life cycle cost increase. If laboratory test procedures existed that would accelerate the rate of corrosion and accurately predict years of operational performance, it would be possible to introduce corrosion-resistant design solutions during the acquisition process.

Similarly, the ability of the Navy to assess the design trade space has advanced rapidly with the onset of computer-based modeling and simulation. Naval design engineers are able to examine complex interactions between the platform and its environment like never before and identify problem areas prior to construction. An equivalent set of analysis tools could be developed to aid engineers in understanding the impact of corrosion on proposed platform designs. This would be invaluable to both design and logistics engineers when developing life cycle sustainment strategies.

In my role as the Navy Corrosion Executive, I intend to bring together the various stakeholder communities to examine the current state of the art and advocate for the development of a Department-wide research focus to advance our capabilities in these critical areas.

CorrDefense: Any last comments?

Matt Koch: Yes. I would like to note that our past, present, and future successes would not be possible without the broader Department of the Navy corrosion community. In particular, we would not be where we are today without the commitment and dedication of the Corrosion Cross-Functional Team and the vision and leadership of the previous Navy Corrosion Executives. Just as we are one Navy, we have been one team focused on a common goalto decrease the impact of corrosion on our warfighters.





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