by Ryan Labadens, U.S. Navy Public Affairs

The U.S. Navy is always looking for new and innovative ways of operating, whether it’s at sea or on dry land. More recently, the Navy has been looking to private industry standards to gain insight into how they can more efficiently and cost-effectively utilize the approximately 1,100 existing storage warehouses currently available on its installations and improve and modernize supply and shipping practices.

On May 4, 2022, representatives from Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center Jacksonville, Florida, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) visited the warehouse and supply facilities onboard Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport, Mississippi.  This was part of their initial efforts toward modernizing and streamlining the Navy’s supply processing—including identification, recording, organization, storage, retrieval, and shipping of materials and supplies—so the Navy can become even more efficient and effective at supplying its forces around the globe.

NAVSUP contracts with AWS, an American multinational technology company that focuses on e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence, according to Amazon’s website (www.amazon.com). AWS currently provides cloud hosting for N-ERP (Navy, Enterprise Resource Planning), an SAP-backboned Accountable Property System of Record. 

According to Kevin Mooney, Executive Director, Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center Jacksonville (FLCJ), Florida, the idea to seek outside consultation stemmed from an initiative proposed by Rear Adm. Peter Stamatopoulos, Commander, Naval Supply Systems Command/Chief of Supply Corps, with AWS consultants creating a Navy “Prime” material support center to catalyze modernizing support services across all of Navy.   

“AWS under contract to NAVSUP facilitates a potential partnership to provide advice on how to best utilize and best operate warehouses across the Navy… and they’re starting here [at NCBC Gulfport] because of the age and capacity of this facility,” said Mooney, who noted that several of the warehouses onboard NCBC Gulfport are relatively newer than those at most other Navy installations since NCBC was recapitalized after 2005, during recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina.

According to Rodney Duggins, site director for NAVSUP FLCJ Gulfport and NCBC supply officer, the warehouses operated by Gulfport staff members have long been held up as exemplary models of efficient and effective management when it comes to storing and shipping the items they receive.

“People who have come through our facilities have admired our warehouses. They are great facilities, and we’re very proud of that,” said Duggins, noting how Gulfport was eager to be a part of the current program involving Amazon. “And we at Gulfport are always willing to voluntarily take on new challenges.”

“The overall importance is to optimize the use of the warehouse space across all [Navy] installations,” said Mooney, who cited one of the warehouses used by the Navy’s construction battalions, the Seabees, onboard NCBC as an example. “Currently, we have a customer called Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (EXWC) providing support to the Seabees – but that only consumes 35 percent of the warehouse we’re evaluating. So, if there is 65 percent capacity available to us, how can the Navy best utilize that 65 percent? It’s not through letting it sit idle – it’s finding the customer base that needs that warehouse space, utilizing it properly with the help of Amazon capacities, studies, philosophies, experience in warehouse operation/utilization, and folding those practices into the Navy warehouse management.”

Capt. Jeff Powell, NCBC Gulfport commanding officer, met with the visiting NAVSUP and Amazon representatives during their May 4th visit to NCBC, and he expressed his enthusiasm for Gulfport taking part in this initiative.

“We welcome the opportunity to meet with new partners, pursue innovation, and do things more efficiently for the Navy. It’s a great opportunity to showcase some of our capabilities and to learn best practices from the industry so we can continue to improve upon how the Navy operates,” said Powell. 

In summary, the NAVSUP strategy is to leverage Amazon’s knowledge in both warehouse management and warehousing systems support and apply those principles service-wide to help the Navy better utilize its material management support to the warfighter.