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.”
Essentially, the ship is to be manned with a nearly skeleton crew who will be cross-trained to become “hybrid sailors” tasked to perform different jobs and duties normally made the sole responsibility of a single crewmember on a ship carrying more sailors.
“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.
“A 40-man crew cannot absorb the administrative burden associated with traditional shipboard training teams,” the conops says. “Further, the demanding missions envisioned for LCS sailors, and the advanced level of proficiency that is required of each sailor assigned to complete assigned missions successfully, necessitate a more rigorous training program than what is currently used by the surface fleet. The shift in emphasis from training and certifying training teams to training and certifying operators is paramount.”
The conops says, “Unit-level training must operate under a ‘train the sailor’ philosophy vice the traditional ‘train the trainer’ approach.”
Much of the maintenance and some other duties normally done aboard ships for other vessels will be done on shore for LCS. “New organizations and infrastructure are required to push over 150 shipboard processes ashore,” the conops says.
“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.
“Corrective maintenance accomplished by ship’s force and (mission-module) personnel is limited to simple troubleshooting and module replacement,” the document says. “Underway maintenance is minimized. . . . On-board crew performs limited maintenance and inspections which identify needed maintenance.”