By Glenda Feldt, CPT, EdD, & LCDR Scott Casad, 2011 Conference Presenters
The USCG designed and built a new class of ships, 418 feet long with a 54-foot beam, the National Security Cutters (NSCs). The NSC is the largest and most technically advanced class of cutter in the Coast Guard, with capabilities for maritime homeland security, law enforcement, and national defense missions. The NSC will replace the aging 378-foot High Endurance Hamilton class cutters that have been in service since the 1960s. The NSC features increased range and endurance (60 to 90 day patrol cycles); automated weapons systems capable of stopping rogue merchant vessels far from shore; larger flight decks; state-of-the-art command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance equipment to enhance CG interoperability; detection and defense capabilities against chemical, biological, or radiological attach; and advanced sensors contributing intelligence to the Common Operational Picture and enhanced Maritime Domain Awareness.
The first NSC, the USCGC Bertholf (WMSL 750) was accepted in May 2009 and had to be sailed by CG crew to her homeport in Alameda, CA. Due to promotions and personnel rotations, the initial crew consisted of 132 members.
The ships’ designs included cutting-edge maritime technology, much of it not previously a part of CG assets. There were no subject matter experts or accomplished performers in the CG for many of the systems and pieces of equipment built into the first NSC. In addition, manpower analysis developed a crew size requirement of 104, smaller than similar CG cutters. As with most major acquisitions, funds were included to develop the needed skill set for the initial crew. A number of the systems received front-end analysis. Then questions arose for the headquarters program personnel: How should crew members be trained? What costs were involved, especially for training that was only available from the builder or manufacturer of the system or equipment? Who should be trained and when should the training occur so that the crew is prepared to take acceptance of the ship and immediately sail her away from the shipyard? What performance supports, other than training, were needed?
After the initial crew of this first-in-class ship was trained, received performance supports, and had sailed the vessel from Mississippi to California, questions arose in planning for the crew preparation for future sister ships. Did crew members perform the jobs identified in the FEAs? Did they perform those for which they were trained? Which of the performance supports and training provided the best value for the dollar? Did the training prepare the crew adequately to perform their jobs upon acceptance of the ship? What was the best value? What was most effective in crew preparation? If multiple supports and training were made available for systems and equipment on the first ship, should they all be offered to crews of the upcoming ships? If not, which ones should have priority for the later crews? What performance supports or training should be deleted from the master training plan? Was there potential for cost savings? Is there a method or process of evaluating the degree of success of multiple interventions?
These resulted in the big question: How do we evaluate not just a single performance intervention, but rather a system of interventions involving the many ratings and all ranks of an entire ship’s crew?
To determine how the CG Human Performance Technology and Human Systems Integration divisions answered these questions, plan to attend the 60-minute educational session “Proof? We Have Your Proof!” by Dr. Glenda Feldt, CPT, and LCDR Scott Casad at the 2011 ISPI conference in Orlando. The presentation will include methods for evaluating programs, focal points of a systematic and systemic program evaluation, the results of the study, and how those results were utilized.
About the Authors
Glenda Feldt, CPT, EdD, is a performance consultant at U.S. Coast Guard’s Performance Technology Center, Design & Development Branch, where she has worked on major systems acquisition projects. She holds a doctorate in educational leadership and a master’s in public administration/human resources. Glenda received the U.S. Coast Guard’s Commander’s Award for Excellence in Service and holds the U.S. Army’s Civilian Service medal.
LCDR Scott Casad currently leads the U.S. Coast Guard’s efforts to provide initial and sustainable performance support and training for major acquisitions. Prior to his current assignment, he coordinated and conducted training for Coast Guard marine inspectors and investigators. He holds master’s degrees in instructional and performance technology from Boise State University and Old Dominion University and is currently a doctoral student in the College of Education at Old Dominion University.