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Maritime Logistics Community News : Summer 2010
40 NAVY SUPPLY NEWSLETTER SUMMER 2010 Hopefully this provides a little more insight and encouragement for future prospective pre-DSO Supply Officers to assume the role of Supply Officer HS Red, Blue or White Crews, in what will prove to be a rewarding posting. I assumed the role of Supply Officer HS White in Aug 09, immediately following the attainment of my PQ. The first few months onboard were definitely not without their challenges. The transition from ASO to Head of Department required a steep learning curve and re-evaluation of roles that are otherwise divided between the SO -- DSO -- ASO construct on a MFU. Remaining a SBLT for the first 11 months of my posting further created challenges of authority amongst a Wardroom where I was one of the most Junior members, as well as the employment of effective expectation management skills amongst a Command Team that consist of otherwise Charge-qualified LCDRs or Senior LEUTs. Supply Complement Commissioned some 10 years ago, HMAS LEEUWIN and HMAS MELVILLE assume a multi-crewing concept similar to Patrol Boats. Three separate crews, HS Red Crew (CMDR Phil Hiatt, RAN), HS Blue Crew (CMDR Mike Pounder, RAN) and HS White Crew (LCDR Michael Gulyas, RAN) rotationally man LEEUWIN and MELVILLE, with an overall complement of approximately 55 personnel (usually sail with 65). There is often some disparity as to the treatment of these ships, as although classed as an MFU, from a Supply perspective in many ways they operate as a Tender Vessel, with overall governance and services maintained by FLSE-C. There has been some experimentation with the SO role on a HS since their commission, where post-DSO, Charge-qualified LEUTs have sometimes fulfilled the role. However, with competition for these qualified personnel and skills in great demand, the SO role has remained that of a billeted pre-DSO SBLT/LEUT, with the Charge component of the Supply Department being provided by the OIC FLSE-C (CMDR Stu Wheeler, RAN). There is no DSO or ASO, or for most Crews even a Supply Senior Sailor to support the SO once deployed away from Cairns. Therefore, while the SO works as a part of the Command Team onboard and is also expected to report regularly to the OIC FLSE-C when alongside Cairns, when deployed the SO assumes a high level of autonomy and independence in the role. Although assistance is provided on request from ashore, the SO is turned to and relied on as the first point of contact and Subject Matter Expert by the Captain on all Supply matters. This, I believe, provides ample opportunity for the SO to develop strong communication skills and a close liaison with Command that will strongly assist in future sea postings. The remaining HS Supply complement consists of a PO/LSMED, a LSSN, a LSCK and ABCK, a LS/ABWTR and an ABSTD. As an additional sea posting between ASO and DSO and as a stepping stone to DSO, this provides a very manageable Department and the opportunity for the enhancement of Divisional skills amongst a small team. In addition to this complement there is often opportunity on every deployment to request additional Supply sea- riders for Task Book progression, such as SMN Medics, Cooks, Stewards and SNs, who always make a big difference and a strong contribution to a small Ship's Company. Department Operation As mentioned, the Supply Department on a Hydrographic Ship operates in many ways as a Tender Vessel. Firstly, Tender Vessel RMA is in use, where although the 6-week cyclic menu is generated and victuals orders created by the LSCK, this is strongly regulated and managed, with assistance provided by the CPO/POCK at FLSE-C. Although the CO and SO Financial Delegations have recently been revised, providing the range of Simple Procurement delegations onboard, the Business Manager of HMAS CAIRNS as well as the Purchasing Cell at FLSE-C are regularly consulted and offer their services to provide financial management oversight, assistance and payment of invoices. With the recent introduction of Quicken as the Service Funds package a new POSTD position has also been created at FLSE-C to assist the Crews in managing their SCAF IAW new guidelines. Naval Stores is often the main area that generates concern onboard HS Ships. In addition to the absence of a Charge-Qualified Supply Officer, the other main obstacle to a HS Ship not being classed as Self-Accounting Units is due to there being no Stores Accounting Officer onboard. Again, this position is fulfilled ashore, by the CPO/POSN at FLSE-C. As the SAO does not deploy with the Ship there is the requirement for strong Stores management checks to be conducted on their behalf by both the SO and LSSN. The multi-crewing practice does not further aide in strong Storeroom management, as there is no consistency in who manages the Storerooms onboard. One of the enduring problems at Crew handovers are the management of SCAs, which often see discrepancies due to them frequently being handed over to a new custodian at three to four month intervals. Frustrations The biggest frustration in my role of SO of HS White thus far has been some of the antiquated software that is still in use by LEEUWIN and MELVILLE. Although SBA was recently replaced with Quicken, the HS Ships are the only MFU who until very recently have used AMPS-PA as their Inventory Management System, instead of SLIMS. This has created many problems, highlighted in my DMA conducted in Sep 09 by STG. Namely, as AMPS is a Stores system that is no longer supported there are no formal training courses offered, and myself and the LSSN have been required to be satisfied by ad hoc training provided by the HSPO, in addition to training CDs and booklets. AMPS is also highly unreliable. As it does not 'talk' to SDSS, or in the recent case, MILIS ashore, DIPs are required to be emailed to the HSPO, who then divide the requirement between CFE (Contractor Furnished State in Focus: HS White Crew Currently 13 months into an 18 month posting as Supply Officer HS White Crew, I'd like to share my experiences in this role with the Naval Supply Community. BY LEUT KRISTEN RUSSO, RAN