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News | March 18, 2021

Stratford team delivers despite COVID ‘Stop Move’

By Jason Kaneshiro, with contributions from Bryan Denardo DCMA Eastern Region Public Affairs

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in DCMA’s 2021 INSIGHT Magazine, which highlights the agency’s warfighter-support story and its global acquisition professionals who use insight and expertise to enhance that story each day. The online version of the magazine can be found here.

With most of the country in some state of self-quarantine, the Army had a problem in March when the Defense Department issued a “stop movement” order that prevented them from transporting 10 fresh-off-the-factory-floor UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters from a facility in Lakehurst, New Jersey, to the Republic of Korea.

Facing an approaching deadline to load the aircraft on a ship bound for Korea, the Army Utility Helicopter Program Office turned to aircrews from Defense Contract Management Agency Sikorsky Aircraft, in Stratford, Connecticut, for help.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Noble and Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Matthew Harris obtained special permission from then-DCMA Director Navy Vice Adm. David Lewis, to move the helicopters from the Lakehurst post-production modification facility to a port facility in Wilmington, Delaware, where the aircraft were loaded onto ships and delivered to the Army in Korea.

“These motivated aviators were joined by two additional DCMA Sikorsky Aircraft officers, Navy Cmdr. Timothy Rhatigan and Navy Lt. Nicholas Williams, who traveled from Connecticut to New Jersey, through the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in New York City, to ensure the 10 helicopters were ferried safely from Lakehurst to the port facility for on-loading,” said Bryan Denardo, supervisory management analyst at DCMA Sikorsky.

The four-officer DCMA aircrew team completed their task in just over a day and for a fraction of the budgeted cost of the mission. Their combined efforts ensured U.S. Forces in Korea had the aircraft required to succeed in their mission to deter aggression and maintain stability in northeast Asia.

After the successful Army delivery for the Utility Helicopter Project Office, the pilots at DCMA Sikorsky Aircraft received dozens more requests for support from the Army, National Guard and UHPO.

DCMA Sikorsky Aircraft crews successfully delivered, among others:
• Two Arizona National Guard UH-60M aircraft from Lakehurst to Phoenix, Arizona
• Four Taiwan Foreign Military Sales UH-60M aircraft ferried from West Palm Beach, Florida, to Savannah, Georgia
• Two North Dakota National Guard UH-60M aircraft ferried from Lakehurst to Bismarck, North Dakota
• One Idaho National Guard UH-60M aircraft ferried from Lakehurst to Boise, Idaho
• Two Saudi Arabian FMS UH-60M aircraft ferried from Owego, New York, to Savannah

DCMA Sikorsky Aircraft aviators also have continued to complete their primary DCMA mission at home, delivering 17 UH-60M/HH-60M helicopters from the Sikorsky manufacturing plant in Stratford to the post-production modification facility in Lakehurst after completing the rigorous government acceptance test flight and process.

“This was a team effort the military aviators were able to complete because of the outstanding teamwork of the nearly 200 DCMA Sikorsky Aircraft employees, notably the engineering and manufacturing team reviewing engineering change proposals, conducting surveillance on production and providing program management support with our partners,” Denardo said.

The contracting team ensured all activities were in-line with contractual requirements and obligations, quality assurance teams providing critical safety inspections and surveillance, and our mission support team taking care of travel and logistical concerns, Denardo explained.

“This is impressive support on normal days, but especially notable during the challenges of COVID-19 remote working and network challenges,” Denardo said.

DCMA Sikorsky Aircraft and its tertiary command, DCMA Lockheed Martin Owego in New York have approximately 200 team members administering contracts and supporting Sikorsky Aircraft at their corporate headquarters and main plant facility in Stratford, the integration facility in Owego, and the manufacturing and test facilities in West Palm Beach and Troy, Alabama.