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Service Craft

Service Craft is a classification of waterborne craft which comprises generally the waterborne utilitarian craft not classified as ships or boats, designed to operate in coastal and protected waters and provide general support to combatant forces and shore establishments. Service Craft are waterborne craft which comprises generally the waterborne utilitarian craft not classified as ships or boats, designed to operate in coastal and protected waters and provide general support to combatant forces and shore establishments. Service craft are designated by type. Service craft are not to be modified to perform other than their intended mission without CNO approval. When a service craft must perform a mission for which it was not originally designed or intended, because of functional requirements or user command/activity needs, the craft must be reclassified as another type of service craft. Modifications may be required to alter the craft so that it is properly configured for its new mission.

A Navy boat is an uncommissioned, waterborne unit of the Fleet, not designed as a service craft and capable of limited independent operation. It may be assigned to and carried on a ship as a ship's boat, or assigned to a shore station or fleet operating unit. Asof 1998 there were 58 different types of Navy boats with a total of over 2400 boats in service throughout the fleet ranging from a 14 foot punt to Landing Craft dating back to the 1940's. Boats continue to provide a valuable service to the Navy and are used in a wide range of operations such as: search and rescue, personnel transports, sail training, recovery, and security.

Service craft are assigned to the user command/ activity, also referred to as the custodian. An increase in service craft is not justification for an increase in personnel. Prior to submitting a request for a service craft, sufficient billets and funds to man and maintain the service craft should already be established, or established separately. Service craft shall be supported by an allowance document (i.e., a Coordinated Shipboard Allowance List (COSAL) or Coordinated Shore Based Allowance List (COSBAL)) in accordance with program requirements.

When a service craft must be permanently modified/ reconfigured to perform a mission for which it was not originally designed or intended, the service craft must be reclassified. Service craft shall not be modified to perform other than the intended mission without approval from Chief of Naval Operations (CNO).

The Naval Vessel Register (NVR) is the official inventory of ships and service craft in the custody of, or titled by, the U.S. Navy. Referred to by Congress in the statutes of the United States Code, Title 10, Sections 7304-7308, the NVR is maintained, as directed, by U.S. Navy Regulations, Article 0406, Sept. 14, 1990. Vessels are listed in the NVR when the classification and hull number(s) are assigned to ships and service craft authorized to be built by the President, or when the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) requests instatement or reinstatement of vessels, as approved by the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV). Once listed, the ship or service craft remains in the NVR throughout its life as a Navy asset, and afterwards its final disposition is recorded.

The NVR has been maintained and published by the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Shipbuilding Support Office (NAVSHIPSO) since 1962. The NVR now exists as an electronic document only. It is maintained and updated weekly. Over 6,500 separate record transactions are processed annually with each being supported by official documentation. The NVR includes a current list of ships and service craft on-hand, under construction, converted, loaned/leased, and those assigned to the Military Sealift Command. Ship class, fleet assignment, name, age, homeport, planning yard, custodian, hull and machinery characteristics, builder, key construction dates, battle forces, local defense and miscellaneous support forces, and status conditions are some of the data elements provided.

The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) assigned the Program Executive Officer, Expeditionary Warfare (PEO EXW (PMS325)) responsibility for executing the policies set forth in that instruction, including establishing allowances, assignments, and reassignments of service craft and boats. Unless a specific exemption is granted, allowances are assigned to the user command/activity, also referred to as the custodian. Authorized user command/activity service craft and boat allowances are listed in reference (c), and maintained up-to-date in the CBSS. The service craft Ship's Program Managers (SPMs) are responsible for the acquisition of all types of service craft assigned. PEO EXW (PMS325) is responsible for the acquisition of all types of U.S. Navy boats.

One of the largest problems facing custodians and service craft managers today is obtaining the proper budgets needed to properly maintain naval service craft. In many instances, regular overhauls required for craft are labeled as "unfunded" liabilities. In the regular course of business, budgets required for one service craft maintenance, is reduced during budget reduction cycles, without proper consideration of the potential impacts of these decisions. Over the long term, preventive maintenance and regular maintenance is performed over a long period of time, which greatly exceeds the actual cost of replacement of some components. In some cases, activities spend greater amounts of money in the overhaul of craft, than it cost to actually replace the craft.

The single most important factor in discussing budget needs with comptroller personnel is the impact of the business decisions made concerning the service craft budgets. Remember, that when budgets are submitted to comptroller personnel in the formulation of the budget process, each department's needs are measured against the remainder of the departments. Therefore, the need for maintenance on a particular craft are measured against the need for additional tools, sheets for the BEQ, improvements of buildings, etc.

Another key factor in the formulation of a budget, is the lack of a long range plan for the program, backed with historic data for each craft. This information is critical in establishing the impact of not properly funding the craft, and yet, is very seldom addressed. One of the main points to remember is that a financial decision to delay needed maintenance or repairs of craft, is not the elimination of the requirement, but rather a decision to delay until a future year, the outstanding requirement. The requirement never goes away, it is just moved to the right, thereby increasing the fiscal need, in the years ahead. If anyone believes there will be more money available next year than there is this year, they are mistaken.

Service craft material inspections shall be conducted by President Board of Inspection and Survey (PREINSURV) utilizing the assigned board authority commanders. The assigned board authority commanders shall provide logistical, administrative, and required technical support (e.g., gas free engineers) from regional maintenance authorities. A service craft's material inspection shall be scheduled 3 years from the previous inspection. At no time will the interval between material inspections exceed 54 months. All material inspection discrepancies reported will be corrected as soon as practicable within 1 calendar year from the date of the inspection report. Discrepancies affecting the safe operation of the craft will be corrected immediately. Corrected discrepancies will be reported to the Board Authority.

Active service craft will be scheduled for Regular Overhaul (ROH). A four to five year overhaul cycle has been established by the CNO for self-propelled service craft, high value boats and landing craft (e.g., SLWTs, service craft and LCUs). Deviations from the standard intervals can vary with local conditions and type of hull construction. Deviations from service craft standard overhaul cycles will vary with local conditions and type of hull construction. Submit request for deviation via the chain of command and the Support Commander to COMNAVSEASYSCOM.

Maintenance and repair of craft and boats within the capability of the parent command should be budgeted, scheduled, and accomplished to maintain a high state of material readiness. Commands and activities shall appoint a Maintenance Officer as a sole point of contact for all matters relating to boat and craft maintenance. The Maintenance Officer shall be capable of making maintenance decisions based on engineering and operational parameters and should actively participate in the planning and execution of all maintenance actions affecting the parent command.

Former Navy service craft, including those owned or previously owned by private and public agencies, will not be accepted into inventory unless a Material Inspection Board finds the craft fit for U.S. Navy service.

Installations must identify and report any vessels qualifying as Naval Sea System Command (NAVSEA) Service craft and Boat Naval Sea System Command (NAVSEA) Service craft and Boat Accounting Report (SABAR) boats. These are public vessels having the same status as a utility boat assigned to a naval station operations department. They may have been purchased with APFs, donated, chartered from USNSF, or transferred to the Navy from another activity, (e.g., Drug Enforcement Agency). Installation commanders are advised that SABAR boats are typically obtained for "training" purposes and may be assigned to MWR departments for operational control.

Port Operations, home to most Service Craft and boats. The bulk of the manpower at Port Operations is military. This duty provides the sailors with a sea-shore rotation. In the past this source of manpower was an inexpensive source of labor while providing the sailor with a job related duty station while in port waiting their next sea duty assignment. However as the number of ships and bases decrease so does the number of military billets to man them. What was once an inexpensive source of labor has become a limited and costly resource. The cost of military manpower although invisible to the stations and claimants is not to the Navy and taxpayer, and it is not cheap.

Adverse sea conditions can produce relative motion and effectiveness of various smaller service craft which are typically found alongside a larger vessel. These craft have relatively high resonant frequencies and are highly responsive to wave action, much more than the larger vessels which they serve. In particular, waves reflected by the larger vessels, which will have a crest to trough amplitude of approximately twice the amplitude of the waves incident to the vessel, sometimes pose a threat to the service craft. Thus, reflected waves can and often do disturb and disrupt the normal activities of the service craft.

In June 1997, the Department of Defense Inspector General (DOD IG), the Army Audit Agency (MA), the Air Force Audit Agency @FM), the Naval Audit Service (NAS), and the General Accounting Office (GAO) began a cooperative effort to test the recorded number of items of military equipment in each of the military services. Tests in the Navy involved seven categories of military equipment: aircraft, ships and submarines, boats, service craft, uninstalled engines, satellites, and missiles. In several cases, asset categories were subdivided between active and inactive items. As a result, NAS conducted tests on 11 categories.

Twenty-one items listed as inactive service craft available to the Navy could not be located by the Navy during the 1997 audit test. Between January 1998 and April 1998, the Navy determined that 15 of these service craft had been disposed of prior to the test but were still being shown as available on Navy records at the time of the site visit. The Navy was not able to identify the location of the other 6 inactive service craft, which include a medium harbor tug, a range tender, a refrigerated covered lighter, an aircraft transportation lighter, and two special purpose lighters.



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