Crew Rotation Discussed

Sunday, 13 Oct at 1700/5pm (Eastern U.S.) the podcast “Midrats” will air  Episode 197: Sea Swap & Small Unit Leadership

If you catch the live podcast, you can join in the online discussion, but if you miss it live you can still hear the archived version. It will last approximately an hour.

The topic is the Navy’s version of crew rotation. The guest speaker will be LT Hipple, a surface warfare officer and graduate of Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. He is author of a July 2013 US Naval Institute Proceedings article, “Sea Swap – Its a Trap” and Director of the Center for Maritime Security’s  (CIMSEC) NEXTWAR blog and hosts the Sea Control podcast.

The Navy does have even stronger motivation for crew swaps than the Coast Guard since it is desirable to avoid the long transit from homeports in the US to distant operating areas.

We’ve discussed crew swaps here before:

Basically I favor other forms of augmented crewing that will retain some sense of ownership, provide more days away from homeport for the ship, but retain the current approximate 185 days away for the individual crewmembers by a combination of leave, temporary assignment to support facilities ashore for crewmembers, and temporary relief for critical crew members by personnel with recent experience in the type, from a personnel pool, perhaps in the form of a squadron staff.

Multi-crewing, Coming to a Neighborhood Near You

Now that there are three National Security Cutters commissioned and  homeported in Alameda, we will soon see the first attempts at using multiple crews to man them, the “Crew Rotation Concept.” Four crews will man three ships. Additional facilities for the fourth crew are being built on Coast Guard Island.

There is a discussion of the Navy’s current plans for doing something similar here, along with comments on their previous experience with the concept.

Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard photo ID: 100228-G-2129M-004, Petty Officer 3rd Class Kevin Metcalf

We have had previous posts on the concept and they always prompted a lively discussion:

The Navy’s reason for wanting to “swap” crews centers on a desire to avoid the dead time inherent in the long transit to their operating areas. In the Coast Guard case it is more a desire to reduce AC&I costs. Providing more op-days per hull even if the day to day operating cost per op-day are almost certain to be higher.

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Manning Ships, Navy Acknowledges Mistake, Will the Coast Guard?

The Navy has admitted they made a mistake by attempting to minimize the manning of their ships using a concept called “Optimal Manning.” As unfortunate as the mistake may have been–and it has resulted in a lot of pain and may have weakened the service for years to come–poor morale and broken ships–at least now it has been acknowledged. There has been some soul searching about how the mistake was made. The general consensus seems to be that a new generation of leaders was absolutely positive they have evolved to be smarter than those that went before, and since their solution is so obviously superior, there is no need to test it on a small scale be for applying it service wide.

Has the Coast Guard made a similar mistake in attempting to replace twelfve 378s with only eight National Security Cutters, based on an untried concept called “Crew Rotation Concept (CRC)?” Unlike the Navy’s mistake, if we have made a mistake in adopting this concept, it cannot be quickly reversed by moving billets ashore back afloat.

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