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Surface Forces: Toasters Take Over
   Next Article → ATTRITION: The Pregnancy Problem at Sea
October 22, 2007: The U.S. Navy is moving increasingly towards small, no, make that very small, crews. Not just the 75 men on the new, 3,000 ton LCS (Littoral Combat Ship), but a thousand sailors for a 100,000 ton aircraft carrier. Not immediately, but in the next decade or so. Meanwhile, the new Ford class of nuclear powered carriers is reducing crew size  17 percent (to 4,700). But based on three decades of experience with shrinking crews on combat support ships, and commercial shipping in general, the navy believes it has a reasonable shot at running a large carrier with a thousand sailors.

 

This all began back in the 1970s, when the U.S. Navy began converting its unarmed supply, repair and maintenance ships to be run largely by civilians. While the U.S. Navy has about 280 combat ships in service, there is another fleet of 185 support ships. The civilianization of these ships taught the navy that a lot of practices, used in running civilian ships, would work in the navy. The big change was the use of smaller, but more capable, crews, and the use of more automation. The navy, for example, found that, as it converted support ships from military to civilian crews, crew size typically was cut by 50-70 percent. While the civilians got paid more, they were actually cheaper, saving millions of dollars per ship each year, in payroll alone. There were still some sailors on these ships, about ten percent of the crews, and these were sought after billets. The Military Sealift Command ships had much better accommodations for the crews (everyone had their own room, although more junior personnel shared two man rooms), and things operated much more smoothly because many of the "sailors" were guys who retired after twenty years in the navy, to take these jobs. The high experience level prevented a lot of things from going wrong in the first place, and led to problems being fixed much more quickly

 

When Military Sealift Command ships converted to civilian crews, the ships often had much new equipment installed, stuff that was standard on most civilian ships. This included a lot of automation in the engine room, and on the bridge. Instead of having sailors standing around watching equipment, most of that was now done by computers hooked up to sensors. A few sailors could keep an eye, and then some, on every aspect of ship operation. If anything went wrong, dozens of experienced sailors were available for deal with it. Over the years, the navy noted that, even when there was a major catastrophe (as would be the case from combat damage), the smaller civilian crews on Military Sealift Command ships were able to cope. Because of all that experience, the navy is now moving forward with the same degree of automation on warships.

 

This is a trend that has been going on for over a century. In the early 19th century, a typical 3,500 ton "ship of the line" had a crew of 800-900 sailors. That was about 240 sailors per thousand tons of ship. A century later, capital ships had eliminated labor intensive sails and were running on steam, and lots more machines. The 12,000 tons pre-World War I battleship had a crew of 750 (62 sailors per thousand tons of ship). But for the last century, not a lot of progress was made. The current U.S. nuclear carriers have 57 sailors per thousand tons of ship. But the LCS gets that down to 25. Advances in automation, as well as the introduction of the combat UAVs in the next decade, will make the thousand sailor crew for a carrier possible. That's ten sailors per thousand tons of ship, plus a lot of robots, and equipment built to require very little manpower to fix or operate. That last innovation is already happening with warplanes, greatly reducing the man hours of maintenance required per flight hour. The navy has long since accepted those concepts for missiles (delivered in sealed containers, requiring no maintenance.) These are trends that have been building for some time, and show every indication of continuing. Although these new techniques are expensive, so are sailors. Each one costs over $100,000 a year. For a carrier crew of 5,700, that's over half a billion dollars a year. That buys lots of automation, and keeps a lot of people out of harm's way.

 

Next Article → ATTRITION: The Pregnancy Problem at Sea
  

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RockyMTNClimber    How Many?   10/22/2007 11:15:02 AM
 
How many crew per thousand tons are required for combat damage control?
 
Check Six
 
Rocky
 
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Dwye       10/23/2007 4:45:48 PM
An 18th century ship of the line needed only about 100 of the 800-1200 men to run the ship; even fewer had they used more fore-and-aft sails, like a bark rather than ship-rigged vessel.  Navy ships are and were very overcrewed in comparison to civilian ships because they need spares close by to replace battle casualties while still fighting.

The reduced crews will not be able to do that, but then, there hasn't been a slugfest battle since Jutland, so smaller crews should be sufficient.  And, with the greater automation, one hopes that there will be no advances in non-nuclear EMP generation (ala the latest Ocean's Eleven) or over-the-air virus and worm infections.
 
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RockyMTNClimber    Don't be silly.....   10/23/2007 5:23:46 PM
The reduced crews will not be able to do that, but then, there hasn't been a slugfest battle since Jutland,
That is just a silly statement!
 
Seriously though, for a ship the size of a CVN, does anyone know what the minimum Damage Control/Repair crew size should be? Has this been analyzed on a per thousand ton basis?
 
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Rocky
 
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gf0012-aust       10/23/2007 9:18:09 PM

Has this been analyzed on a per thousand ton basis?

Not sure about CVN stats, but USN has been working with RAN on how we do reduced crewing for DDG sized vessels.  The mini burkes were heavily subjected to crewing resizing as part of the eval.
AMPT10 is the man to ask as I believe he has some direct association with the issue.....

 
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Herald1234       10/24/2007 12:18:28 AM

The reduced crews will not be able to do that, but then, there hasn't been a slugfest battle since Jutland,
That is just a silly statement!

SAMAR. 

Seriously though, for a ship the size of a CVN, does anyone know what the minimum Damage Control/Repair crew size should be? Has this been analyzed on a per thousand ton basis?

1 man per 100 tons MINIMUM. 

Check Six

 

Rocky




 
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RockyMTNClimber       10/24/2007 10:55:04 AM




The reduced crews will not be able to do that, but then, there hasn't been a slugfest battle since Jutland,


That is just a silly statement!



SAMAR.  &  Guadalcanal



Seriously though, for a ship the size of a CVN, does anyone know what the minimum Damage Control/Repair crew size should be? Has this been analyzed on a per thousand ton basis?



1 man per 100 tons MINIMUM. 
 
So for a 97,000 ton Nimitz it would require a crew of about 1.000 sailors available to react to ship damage. Should I add additional to deal with aviation related damages and fires? Yesterday I found an essay on the events surrounding the USS Stark being hit by Iraqi missiles. The crew had to be suplimented by damage control crews from two other ships to keep the damage in check after loosing several key damage control members along with 18% of the ship's company in the initial attack. ht****tp://www.dcfp.navy.mil/mc/museum/STARK/Stark3.htm


Check Six



 



Rocky









 
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Herald1234       10/24/2007 11:04:29 AM
You still need the men with the wood matting, braces, and the mallets to shore up breach containment as well as to fight the fires and shut off the ruptured lines as well as bypass the electrical groundouts and shorts as well as animal muscle to work the ship when the power assist fails. 1 man per 100 tons is the absolute minimum to save something as large as carrier. You won't be conducting flight ops or anything else. You are the USS Franklin example [Nimitz sized] limping home after four or five 65 cm wakehomers and a dozen Yakhonts.

Herald
 
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