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NEWS | Jan. 14, 2021

Tobyhanna takes on Navy missile defense system workload

By Ms. Danielle E. Weinschenk

Tobyhanna Army Depot’s newest mission is expanding its support to the U.S. Navy.

The depot has fully onboarded its newest workload, the Sea Sparrow, a ship-borne anti-missile weapon system. Sea Sparrow is a critical component of naval defense systems and can be found on U.S. Navy ships as well as those belonging to allies through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The system, intended for defense against anti-ship missiles, is particularly effective against sea-skimming missiles.

Toby 2028, the depot’s long-range strategic plan, focuses intently on shaping the organization’s future through the acquisition of new workload and the expansion of an already diverse portfolio. Sea Sparrow represents growth for Tobyhanna’s successful partnership with the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA). The partnership began in 2014 with the RIM-166 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) Launcher workload.

“NAVSEA was thrilled with our performance on the RAM Launcher mission,” said Thomas Petroski, chief of the C4ISR Finishing Division.  “When they needed someone to support Sea Sparrow, Tobyhanna was their first call.” Petroski works in the Systems Integration and Support (SIS) Directorate and oversees the existing Mobile Depot Maintenance (MDM) program, which encompasses the RAM Launcher and, now, the Sea Sparrow missions.

The new workload’s arrival concludes a multi-year preparation effort. After capability discussions with NAVSEA personnel, depot representatives visited a NAVSEA facility early in 2019 to view the assets in person and to develop a transition plan. A key component of the transition plan was enhanced industrial training for SIS employees. Nearly 50 employees were trained by representatives from the Society for Protective Coatings and received industry-standard paint certifications, vital to reducing the likelihood of corrosion due to environmental elements on-ship.

While the refinishing portion of the project is handled by Petroski’s team, the mission requires support from multiple depot organizations. Sea Sparrow cabling is built by employees in SIS’s Electronic Fabrication Division and electronic components are repaired by the C4ISR Directorate. The workload is also supported by employees from the Production Engineering, Production Management, and Resource Management Directorates. The program’s greatest strength is these healthy partnerships, according to MDM work leader John Dodge.

“The production floor team is extremely impressed by the assistance we’ve received from our support organizations,” he said. “No matter what we need, they always come through. Sea Sparrow has been a great cooperative effort.”

A cross-functional team of depot employees traveled to Florida late last year for the inaugural Sea Sparrow installation mission on the USS Iwo Jima. Petroski commended the team for getting the job done, despite the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our MDM personnel are deeply committed to the mission of supporting the Warfighter. They went above and beyond to ensure this mission was completed safely and efficiently.”

Although the depot has perfected the traditional MDM process, the team still had a lot to learn for the new mission, according to David Bowser, an engineer for the program.

“The Sea Sparrow workload requires a more intense level of repair compared to a typical MDM mission. Instead of just refinishing work, our team will replace sensors, cabling and other electronic components. The equipment is also just bigger in general - a single component weighs nearly 2,400 lbs.”

Michael McDermott is also a leader for the MDM program and has been on multiple MDM missions. He says being on the enormous Navy ships is quite the experience.

“Working on and around naval vessels never ceases to amaze me, with the size and scope of all of the operations being conducted in unison. Whenever bringing a new TYAD team member aboard for their first Navy TDY, they immediately concur.” Dodge agreed.

“I was shocked and amazed when I first stepped on a ship.”

The program is funded for 14 assets this fiscal year. Project Manager Will Farrow says he expects the Sea Sparrow workload to grow in the future.

“In the next year, the depot should take on additional work for the program, both on and off-ship. Our goal is to work with NAVSEA to minimize asset downtime and keep their fleet mission-ready.”

Petroski says the depot is more than up to the challenge.

“NAVSEA looks at Tobyhanna as a one-stop shop. Our support to them began with a single RAM Launcher; now we’ve expanded the program significantly and have taken on Sea Sparrow as well. Team Tobyhanna is an incredible, well-rounded organization. I have no doubt that, together, we can provide full life-cycle support for a variety of NAVSEA needs.”

Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR) systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna’s Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C5ISR provider of choice for all branches of the Armed Forces and industry partners.

Tobyhanna’s unparalleled capabilities include full-spectrum logistics support for sustainment, overhaul and repair, fabrication and manufacturing, engineering design and development, systems integration, post production software support, technology insertion, modification, foreign military sales and global field support to our joint warfighters.

About 4,000 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the command’s mission is to empower the Soldier with winning C5ISR capabilities.