Applying Civilian Ship Manning Practice to USN Ships

Published Date: May 1, 2005

To reduce shipboard manning, USN initiatives have emphasized technical changes, such as increasing the use of automation and remote sensors; using equipment, materials, and coatings that require less onboard maintenance; and making such process changes as performing more maintenance off ship. The Military Sealift Command (MSC) and the private sector, however, have gone beyond these types of improvements toward more fundamental changes, enabling them to achieve significantly smaller crews than the USN for nearly identical ships and missions. This study focuses on the differences between USN, foreign Navy, and MSC/commercial ship manning models and cultures, identifies the cost to the USN for many of these differences, and recommends ways to achieve substantially smaller USN crews. Specifically, the study finds that food service management policies, technical training, watchstanding practices, retirement and recruitment policies, and the amount of crewmembers’ at-sea experience all affect crew size and tend to cause USN crews to be larger than civilian and/or foreign crews on similar ships. It concludes with a number of recommendations to help the USN achieve smaller crew sizes, and describes three possible pilot programs to verify them.