Twenty additional berths will be permanently installed onboard Freedom — two for officers, two for chief petty officers and 16 for other enlisted — but the final manning plan has yet to be decided, Rear Adm. Thomas Rowden, the director of surface warfare, said during a June 26 interview at the Pentagon. The ship right now has a core crew of 40, but because there is no manning plan, it’s still unclear how many sailors will be added to the crews.20 is a lot, more than I would have thought. The LCS has several technologies that were supposed to reduce the core crew significantly. While one part of the story is that the Navy is adding billets, the other part of that story is finding out why technology was so ineffective in replacing billets? I think it is an important question, because it is the question that informs next time the Navy tries to do that to a warship - which will be next time the Navy designs a warship.
The added billets “will run the gamut, from support to engineering to operations to boatswain’s mates,” Rowden said. “We’ve got to get the right skill set and the right seniority.”
Among the known manning deficiencies is the need for more junior sailors, Rowden said. LCS crews tend to be more senior, reflecting the need for sailors with multiple qualifications in a small ship.
Sailors also could be added to the mine warfare mission module, he said, in addition to the core crew.
How does a 50% increase in billets impact the total cost-of-ownership for the Littoral Combat Ship? Manpower is consistently cited as the highest cost in the Navy. This addition of billets on half the total planned Littoral Combat Ship purchase will raise cost-of-ownership for the entire class significantly, and because a similar increase is possible on the Austal variant, another increase is coming.
I see this as the first of many, many changes to the Littoral Combat Ship program coming. My sense is these changes will require a bit of a redesign in the future ships of the class, and I do have questions where that will come from. You just added 50% more crew, did the ship just increase galley stores 50% as well or will the duration of galley supplies simply go 50% shorter than yesterday. Big changes typically have broad impacts across a ship, and while this is almost certainly a necessary change, it isn't a simple one and it will carry previously undisclosed costs.