Monday, April 09, 2012

LCS Manning Reality: Oops

Of course, none of this is new - those of us in the "Statler and Waldorf LCS Appreciation Association" have been saying these things for years.

1. We have exquisitely manned an exquisitely designed ship to an almost aerospace engineering level of tolerances (i.e. no wiggle room). The thing is - the wide range of requirements of a warship demands more civil engineering tolerances.

2. Any sea manning savings will be eaten up by shore support trying to make the low manning at sea possible.

3. Training expenses and personnel churn will eat of the rest, if any, money left.

4. Those who are deployed will burn out quickly or will be so physically and emotionally drained (even more than a normal Surface crew) - that accidents and suboptimal performance will manifest itself in unpleasant ways from denting hulls to retention.

Don't listen to my repeats; Aviation Week will help you figure it out.
Operating the U.S. Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) will force the service to re-evaluate its traditional staffing paradigm, according to the LCS Concept of Operations (conops), which was obtained by the Aviation Week Intelligence Network.

“Many existing Navy policies and regulations must be revised to accommodate LCS for various reasons, principally seaframe design and/or minimum manning,” says the current LCS “Platform Wholeness” conops, Revision C, dated September 2009.
LCS crews are “similar to aircraft squadrons and small-craft detachments as far as makeup . . . and their workloads,” the conops says. “The unprecedented method of manning LCS presents new challenges but is essential to the operation of these ships.”
There is that word again "unprecedented." The most overused word of the last half-decade. There is nothing unprecedented, unless you don't know your own history and are making it up as you go along ... which ...
“The small crew represents a major departure from traditional manning concepts,” the conops says. A core crew of 40 and a module-mission package detachment of 15 “are only possible by relying on extensive cross-training, resulting in a crew of hybrid sailors, each with multiple skills,” the conops says.

“The crew has no surplus capacity to absorb additional duties,” the conops says, noting that the mission-module “crews are organized, trained and certified using a process similar to seaframe core crews.
Ummmmm .... 40+15=55. From the discussions I have had, we are already north of the baseline 75 for a deployment when you add 20 for the air-det - a number ID'd as lowball over half a decade ago. Right hand, meet left hand.

As part of the ever fun roll-out of LCS we have talked a lot about the cost per hull, the cost for mission modules that don't even exist ... but not enough about the bill for this,
“The minimally manned crew concept relies upon a condition-based system to allow cost-effective and efficient planning and scheduling of maintenance by a shore maintenance team that will increase system and ship operational availability,” the conops says.
LCS: the gift that will keep on giving.

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