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SUBSAFE and the NASA / Navy Benchmarking Exchange. CAPT(s) S. E. Iwanowicz, USN Director of Submarine Safety & Quality Assurance Naval Sea Systems Command. Agenda. Origins of SUBSAFE Program Overview Origins of the NASA / Navy Benchmarking Exchange Program Questions. Origins.

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subsafe and the nasa navy benchmarking exchange

SUBSAFEand theNASA / Navy Benchmarking Exchange

CAPT(s) S. E. Iwanowicz, USN

Director of Submarine Safety & Quality Assurance

Naval Sea Systems Command

  • Origins of SUBSAFE
  • Program Overview
  • Origins of the NASA / Navy Benchmarking Exchange Program
  • Questions
USS THRESHER (SSN-593) was launched in 1960.
  • The first ship of her class
    • the leading edge of US submarine technology:
      • combining nuclear power with a modern hull design;
      • including many newly-designed components and equipment.

She was fast, quiet, and deep diving

April 10, 1963:

While engaged in a deep test dive

approximately 200 miles off the northeast coast of the

United States,

THRESHER was lost at sea with all aboard

112 Officers and Enlisted;

17 civilians


uss thresher investigations
USS THRESHER Investigations
  • Court of Inquiry
  • Design Appraisal Board
  • Congressional Committee Hearings
        • Focus:
          • Design
          • Construction
          • Operation
investigation results
Investigation Results

“… too far, too fast…”

  • Deficient Specifications
  • Deficient Shipbuilding and Maintenance Practices
  • Incomplete or Non-Existent Records
    • Work Accomplished
    • Critical Materials
    • Critical Processes
  • Deficient Operational Procedures
investigation conclusions
Investigation Conclusions
  • Catastrophic Flooding in the Engine Room
    • Unable to secure from flooding
    • Salt water spray on electrical switchboards
    • Loss of propulsion power
  • Unable to blow Main Ballast Tanks
inception of subsafe
Inception of SUBSAFE
  • “the 20 December 1963 Letter” established Submarine Safety Certification Criterion
  • Defined the basic foundation and structure of the program that is still in place today:
    • Design Requirements
    • Initial SUBSAFE Certification Requirements & Process
    • Certification Continuity Requirements and Process
purpose focus
Purpose & Focus
  • The purpose of the SUBSAFE Program is to provide “maximum reasonable assurance” of:
    • Hull integrity to preclude flooding
    • Operability and integrity of critical systems and components to control and recover from a flooding casualty
maximum reasonable assurance
“Maximum Reasonable Assurance”

Achieved by:

  • Initial SUBSAFE Certification
    • Each submarine meets SUBSAFE requirements upon delivery to the Navy
  • Maintaining SUBSAFE Certification
    • Required throughout the life of the submarine

The SUBSAFE Certification status of a submarine is fundamental to its mission capability

establishing maintaining subsafe certification
Establishing & Maintaining SUBSAFE Certification

The Triad:

    • Audits
    • Re-Entry Control
    • URO/MRC Program

All atop a

  • Base of SUBSAFE Technical Requirements
  • Maximum reasonable assurance is achieved through establishing the initial certification and then by maintaining it through the life of the submarine
subsafe program success
1915 – 1963

16 submarines lost to non-combat causes

1915: USS F-4 (SS-23)

1917: USS F-4 (SS-20)

1920: USS H-1 (SS-28)

USS S-5 (SS-110)

1923: USS O-5 (SS-66)

1926: USS S-51 (SS-162)

1927: USS S-4 (SS-109)

1939: USS SQUALUS (SS-192)

1941: USS O-9 (SS-70)

1942: USS S-26 (SS-131)

USS R-19 (SS-96)

1943: USS R-12 (SS-89)

1944: USS S-28 (SS-133)

1949: USS COCHINO (SS-345)


1963: USS THRESHER (SSN-593)

1963 - Present

1 submarine lost to non-combat causes

1968: USS SCORPION (SSN-598)

SCORPION was not SUBSAFE certified

Loss would not have been prevented by the SUBSAFE Program

SUBSAFE Program Success


SUBSAFE Program inception after THRESHER was lost



The THRESHER Disaster

2 subsafe overview

2. SUBSAFE Overview

“trust, but verify…”

subsafe culture
  • The SUBSAFE Program provides:
    • a thorough and systematic approach to quality
    • a philosophy and an attitude that permeates the entire submarine community
  • SUBSAFE Technical Requirements:
    • applied at design inception
    • carried through to purchasing, material receipt, and assembly / installation
    • examined & included at the component level, the system level, the interactions between systems, and aggregate effects (DFSs)
    • included in maintenance / modernization and operating parameters
subsafe culture1
  • Work Discipline
    • Knowledge / Training
    • Compliance
  • Material Control
    • Correct Material Installed Correctly
  • Documentation
    • Design Products
    • Objective Quality Evidence (OQE)
lok training
LOK &Training

Annual NAVSEA SUBSAFE Training

  • Provides an overview of the SUBSAFE program.
  • Covers deficiencies and trends encountered throughout the previous years.
  • Discusses the necessity to avoid complacency in your job and how to effectively implement long-term corrective and preventive actions to resolve problems.
lok training1
LOK & Training

Activity Based Training

  • Activity-specific training plans are established to concentrate on areas that require additional attention.
  • Activity-specific training plans are reviewed for compliance during Functional Audits.
  • LOK assessments are performed during Functional Audits
material control documentation
Material Control & Documentation

Objective Quality Evidence

  • Certification is strictly based on OQE
    • OQE is any statement of fact pertaining to the quality of a product or service based on observations, measurements, or tests which can be verified.
      • either quantitative or qualitative
      • OQE is defined from technical requirements
      • Based on the integrity & responsibility of individuals
    • OQE provides verifiable evidence that deliberate steps were taken to comply with requirements
trust but verify
Trust, but Verify


  • SUBSAFE Certification Audits review the Objective Quality Evidence associated with an individual ship to ensure that the material condition of that specific submarine is satisfactory for sea trial and unrestricted operations
  • SUBSAFE Functional Audits review the policies, procedures, and practices used by activities to perform SUBSAFE work to ensure that they comply with SUBSAFE requirements
vertical audits horizontal audits
Vertical Audits & Horizontal Audits
  • Vertical Audit
    • An intensive examination of the documentation that was used to SUBSAFE certify components from receipt through final installation.
  • Horizontal Audit:the parts equaling the whole
    • In SUBSAFE Certification Audits specific areas of the SUBSAFE boundary are audited.
      • Examples are, Hull Structure, Piping, Testing, Configuration Management, etc.
      • The results of auditing these specific areas provides an overall picture of the work performed on a specific hull.
subsafe culture2
  • The SUBSAFE program relies upon recruiting, training, and retaining highly qualified people who are held personally accountable and responsible for safety
  • In the SUBSAFE program, complacency is addressed by:
    • Performing periodic rigorous audits of all SUBSAFE Activities & Products
    • Maintaining command level visibility
    • Maintaining the independent authority of the SUBSAFE Program Director – accountable for safety, not cost or schedule
main points
Main Points
  • The SUBSAFE Program permeates all levels of the submarine community: the Fleet, shipbuilders, maintenance providers, NAVSEA, Operational Commanders, etc.
    • They believe in it and understand it.
  • Oversight and enforcement of Program tenets are vital to continued success
    • The entire program is based on personal responsibility & personal accountability- without it, you are lost
    • Compliance verification & OQE are fundamental to certification for URO
    • Talented dedicated people & good training are key
    • Vigilance, vigilance, vigilance – FIGHT COMPLACENCY
    • The more complex a system, the more assurance you need
    • Team effort & x-pollination pay big dividends
  • Continual assaults on the Program from real-world constraints
    • The real challenge is to properly manage the non-conformances
nnbe beginnings
NNBE Beginnings
  • NASA/Navy Benchmarking Exchange (NNBE) initiated by NASA Administrator letter to Secretary of the Navy dated 13 Jun 02
  • Purpose:
    • identify practices and procedures and share lessons learned in NASA’s human space flight program and the Navy’s submarine program
  • Focus:
    • safety and mission assurance policies, processes, accountability, and control measures
  • Extreme environments
  • High energy systems
  • Required integration of complex systems in highly complex vehicles.
  • Highest levels of safety & reliability must be maintained for craft to perform their missions, often over long periods of time.
  • Design, testing, operation, and maintenance of the craft require firm technical basis and compliance verification.
  • Critical systems exist whose failure or lack of operation will have catastrophic consequences.
  • Operating environments
  • Cultural environments
  • Degrees of reliance on evolution and legacy of design
  • Weight and volume criticalities
  • Safety and mission assurance requirements management
  • Verification and compliance approaches
nnbe audits projects program
NNBE Audits & Projects Program

MOA signed 15 Feb 05

  • Reciprocal rights to participate in audits & projects
    • Conducted at the invitation of the party of the program or project
    • Provides a learning opportunity for each party
moa between navsea and nasa
MOA between NAVSEA and NASA
  • Responsibilities:
    • NAVSEA to provide opportunity for NASA participation in audits
      • Provide read ahead material, on-site space, establish number of participants
    • NASA to provide opportunities for Navy participation in review and assessment of
      • NASA Engineering and QA audits
      • Headquarters-led institutional and programmatic audits
  • MOA reviewed every two years for the purpose of
      • Reaffirming organizational commitment
      • Share lessons learned to strengthen each others audit objectives
nnbe scope
NNBE Scope
  • NNBE team to closely examined two aspects of submarine safety
    • New design / construction (initial certification)
    • Maintenance & Modernization (sustaining certification)
  • Major Themes
    • Management & Organization
    • Safety Requirements (technical and administrative)
    • Safety Implementation Processes
    • Safety Compliance Verification Processes
    • Safety Certification Processes
phase 1 nasa learns about the navy
Phase 1 NASA learns about the Navy

Visits & activities coordinated by NAVSEA 07Q:

    • NAVSEA 08 Brief (1 Oct 02)
    • SUBSAFE Working Group (17 Sept 02)
    • PMS450
    • NAVSEA 05
    • PMS392
  • SUPSHIP GROTON SSFA (23 Sept 02)
  • EB CORP (16 Oct 02)
  • PNSY (21Oct 02)
  • SUBMEPP (22 Oct 02)
  • SHAPEC (23 Oct 02)
  • (23 Oct 02)
key observations of subsafe processes
Key Observations of SUBSAFE Processes
  • Excerpts from NNBE reports:
    • Clearly documented and achievable safety requirements, with minimal use of waivers or tailoring
    • A centralized technical authority and a large operational experience base facilitate continuous learning and improvement in design, manufacturing, and operations.
      • Enables evolutionary design (from one ship class to next)
    • Requirements implemented through capable and carefully controlled processes
key observations of subsafe processes1
Key Observations of SUBSAFE Processes
  • Compliance is verified through rigorous in-line management control and assurance processes
  • Compliance is also verified independently of program management by a separate compliance verification organization
  • Strong submarine community-wide safety culture with emphasis (training & awareness) on understanding and learning from past failures
phase 2 navy learns about nasa
Phase 2 Navy learns about NASA

Visits coordinated by NASA office of Safety & Mission Assurance:

  • NASA HQ (5 Nov 02)
  • Johnson Space Center (JSC-1) (5 Nov 02)
  • Kennedy Space Center (KSC-1) (7 Jan 03)
    • Observed Flight Readiness Review for COLUMBIA launch (9 Jan 03)

The bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of meeting a schedule is forgotten