The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) will revolutionize the way the Navy operates. Designed to accomodate a wide range of "mission modules" equipped with different sensors, weapons and unmanned vehicles, LCS will bring unprecedented flexibility to the fight. But there's a catch: to save money, the 3,000-ton ship will be crewed by just 75 sailors. That ain't many.The trick to pulling off efficient manning of a multi-mission vessel is training your sailors to perform a wider range of tasks than ever before. The Navy's got a plan to do this. It involves lots of schooling, higher standards and a work environment that encourages personal initiative. It calls the product a "hybrid sailor".The first LCS won't join the fleet for a couple years, but the Navy is already training up its first hybrid sailors. The test cases are the 30-man crews of the Navy's 8-vessel coastal patrol boat community. Check out my story in today's Military.com Warfighter's Forum for more:One hundred and eighty feet long and displacing just 320 tons (versus more than 8,000 tons for a destroyer), the patrol boats, called PCs by their crews, are among the smallest Navy fighting ships. Their small size means they can maneuver in waters that are too shallow and too crowded for destroyers and cruisers, making them ideal for operations on the Arabian Gulf and in other littoral waters where the world's pirates, smugglers and insurgents hide. But for their crews of just 30, the PCs are a lot to handle -- and so are their diverse and dangerous missions.PC sailors must wear many hats. Besides the gunner's role indicated by his rank, [Gunner's Mate 1st Class Jacob] Frasier also serves as assistant section leader, master helmsman, ammunition administrator, conning officer and small boat coxswain -- and he's working on his officer-of-the-deck qualification. This is far more responsibility than most big-ship sailors bear, but it's typical of PC sailors, and it's a preview of things to come for the Navy-at-large. Today's destroyers have more than 300 people aboard, but to save money, the new 3,000-ton Littoral Combat Ship, or LCS, is designed for a crew of just 75. Manning an LCS will demand the same flexibility and broad responsibility that today's PCs sailors demonstrate every day.Read the whole story here.
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