Peace Time: November 5, 2003


The U.S. Navy is going back to the old custom of assigning sailors to ships for very long periods of time, even when the sailors are off at a long training course, a special assignment or long sick leave. To make this work, ships would be assigned about twenty percent more sailors than they have at full strength. Thus even if a quarter of the crew were away for one reason or another, there would still be 90-100 percent of the sailors needed to run the ship. This approach is good for morale, as sailors form a bond when part of a crew, and they feel somewhat lost and disconnected when off somewhere on some training and work assignment as an individual. By still being part of the crew, the detached sailor will stay in touch with his crewmates (easy to do now that ships have email) and will easily get back into the swing of things when returned to shipboard duty. While many sailors who go off for training or other duty do not return to their ship, the new program will try and change that as well, especially for petty officers. A century ago, a sailor could spend his entire career on one ship, or two or three. This provided crews with enormous experience in working their ship, and great loyalty to their ship and its crew. As history has repeatedly shown, it is the sailors, more than the ship, that make all the difference in combat. 


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