Sea-Air-Space: A Global Maritime Exposition

Published: May 16, 2019


The 2019 Sea-Air-Space, the Navy League's global maritime exposition, was held at the Gaylord National Convention Center in National Harbor, MD from May 6-8, 2019. The official theme of the exposition was sustainability, agility, and superiority. Numerous sessions were held throughout the three days in both the conference session rooms and by Navy agencies themselves at their respective booths on the exhibit hall floor. The primary agencies in attendance were the Department of the Navy, the United States Marine Corps, and the United States Coast Guard. Additional agencies represented at the conference include the State Department and the Department of Transportation. A few of the presenters during the event were as follows:

  • Adm. John Richardson, Navy
  • Gen. Robert Neller, Marine Corps
  • Adm. Karl Schultz, Coast Guard
  • Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, Coast Guard
  • Rear Adm. John Nowell, Navy
  • BGen. Christian Wortman, Marine Corps

In a day where the environment is changing and technology is accelerating at faster rates, the government has to be in search of new ideas, new talent and have an open mind in order to solve not only problems that arise today, but also those of the future. As a result, a focus needs to be given to the following three key areas:

  • Leadership
  • Readiness
  • Climate Change

According to Adm. John Richardson, U.S. Navy, leadership and recruiting talented individuals is a critical element to the success of an organization which allows one to surround themselves with other experts. In addition, in order for an organization to grow, they should be open to change, new ideas, focus on understanding problems and always be striving to improve. One of, if not the most important things to understand is not one individual, but rather the collective is what gives organizations the competitive advantage.

While leadership is of prime importance, readiness is also another key in which the government is concentrating. Ship readiness is essential in this day and age as threats could come at a moment’s notice so having ships up to date and ready to move whether it is for an offensive or defensive strategy is imperative. The average age of various active ships is 44 years and although some ships might have to be retired, Adm. John Richardson stated it is not necessarily about the number of ships but more about naval power.

Finally, the government is focusing its efforts on understanding climate change and what has to be done in order to survive or strive in an ever-changing environment. Climate change is something that is getting more attention and traction in terms of the seriousness of what effects it has specifically in the Arctic. Mr. Jeffrey Hutchinson, Commissioner of Canadian Coast Guard, explained there are three strategies with which they are concerned:

  • Domestic Relationships
  • Partnerships
  • Rules Based International Order

According to Mr. Hutchinson, these 3 focal points are critical if you want to operate safely, cooperatively, efficiently and effectively within the Arctic region. Therefore, the Canadian Coast Guard has created a new region/district with the intention of renewing the relationships they have with the Alaskan natives so that they can understand and create priorities based on a shared vison. Secondly, creating new partnerships as well as strengthen and maintaining existing ones is also important as the Arctic is a fragile, harsh and unforgiving environment which requires governments/international partners to work together as one in order to achieve their own but similar goals. The pathway to achieving successful partnerships is done by striving to achieve 3 criteria, which are, high attention, low tension and cooperation. Mr. Hutchinson stated that one of the biggest threats is not climate change itself, but more so hubris. Vice Adm. Daniel Abel, U.S. Coast Guard stated it has reached two major milestones: the Arctic strategy and the recent Polar Security Cutter award to VT Halter, which Deltek tracked under Opp ID: 146867. There is an option for two more to follow that are just under $2 billion, if all options are exercised. The Arctic strategy consists of enhancing capabilities to operate, advance rule base order and the ability to adapt and innovate. In addition, the Polar Code was a pivotal moment internationally, which requires vessels to have certain equipment and training.

An interesting differentiator for the Sea-Air-Space exposition was the international aspect and the inclusion of members from foreign Navies. Representatives from the German Navy, Romanian Navy, and New Zealand Navy headed a presentation on International Naval Leadership to highlight their state’s interests and current naval affairs. Additional international Navy members were also present, to include Canada and Sweden.

Repeatedly throughout the sessions, the Indo-Pacific region was mentioned as a continued focus for the United States and an increased center for future maritime activities. In an era of power competition primarily against China and Russia, the Indo-Pacific is a contested area and is of strategic importance to the United States. Deputy Assistant Secretary Walter Douglas from the State Department noted an approximate $1.7 trillion in investment in the region. Key areas of focus are positioning of forces, application of forces, and determining needed resources and their appropriate allocation.

An additional recurring theme of the exposition was surrounding shipbuilding. There are 120 shipyards worldwide, which have seen a significant decline over the past 40 years. Approximately 107 of these shipyards are located in three countries: China, Korea, and Japan. The Jones Act supports shipbuilding within the United States to keep the industry and its interests domestic. The shipbuilding industry experiences cycles of boom and bust and the FY20 shipbuilding plan focuses around adaptability, agility, and efficiency. The Department of the Navy has three priorities of readiness, capability, and capacity, with a focus on creating a strategy to balance the priorities.

NAVSEA held a presentation on the Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan (SIOP). The SIOP Program Manager, Steve Lagana, gave an overview and explained aspects of the plan, which affect Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, and Norfolk Naval Shipyard. The total estimated cost is $20 billion over the next 20 years; $4 billion will be allocated to dry-dock improvements, $3 billion towards capital equipment improvements and $14 billion for facility layout and configuration. Without the investments, the shipyards will be unable to meet maintenance needs for submarines and aircraft carriers. There are three phases for SIOP:

  • Phase I – initial review of the infrastructure problem
  • Phase II – more detailed analysis, modeling and simulation of industrial processes, and development of the Area Development Plans (ADP)
  • Phase III – Develop, prioritize and execute projects

Mr. Lagana explained the current phase is Phase II with Phase III anticipated in the next 18-24 months. A report to congress will be released with findings from Phase II along with additional information on future requirements resulting from the analysis, to include MILCON projects at the shipyards. Mr. Lagana further stated an RFI is anticipated to be released very soon, which Deltek is tracking under Opp ID: 178686.

The Program Manager for SeaPort, Stacy McQuage, also held a session on SeaPort Next Generation (NxG) during the event. SeaPort NxG is comprised of approximately 85% of small businesses, compared to SeaPort-e’s 90% small business percentage. Ms. McQuage stated SeaPort NxG has around 100 solicitations issued within the vehicle and solicitations issued via its predecessor, SeaPort-e, are on the decline. NAVSEA expects SeaPort-e task order competitions to decrease dramatically after July 2019 with few to no solicitations expected after September 2019. Due to changes in the Navy Marine Corps Acquisition Regulation Supplement (NMCARS), SeaPort NxG is a mandatory vehicle. If the scope of a requirement falls within the functional areas of SeaPort NxG, Navy agencies must contract through the vehicle unless a determination and findings is submitted and approved for external competitions. Ms. McQuage stated rolling admissions onto the SeaPort NxG vehicles are expected approximately every two years. Deltek tracked the SeaPort-NxG competition under Opp ID: 140174 and is tracking the rolling admissions under Opp ID: 178146.

Another NAVSEA session held at their exhibit booth was NMMES-TR: Modernizing Fleet Maintenance IT presented by Program Manager Bruce Urbon. Mr. Urbon gave a NMMES-TR program overview and acquisition update. NMMES-TR replaces, interfaces with, and/or migrates aging existing IT systems and applications that support the performance of depot and intermediate level fleet maintenance. The Applications and Cloud Services (A&CS) portion has been renamed to Business Applications “BA”. The System Integrator (SI) portion will remain a single award requirement with a Draft RFP anticipated in June 2019 and a Final RFP anticipated in July 2019. Mr. Urbon anticipated the BA portion to follow the SI portion by about a quarter, but award of both requirements are anticipated in mid-FY20.

The 2019 Sea-Air-Space global maritime exposition focused around topics such as readiness, climate change, leadership, and international power competition, with attention in the Indo-Pacific and Arctic regions. Through relationship building and consideration towards military personnel and leadership, the United States is attempting to put a cohesive plan in action to address its needs in order to operate in an effective, efficient, and a more secure environment. The next Sea-Air-Space is anticipated to be held from April 6-8, 2020 at the Gaylord National Convention Center in National Harbor, MD.