Murphy's Law: July 18, 2004


The U.S. Navys new Sea Swap program, that flies replacement crews to ships stationed in distant areas, has run into an unexpected snag. The idea behind Sea Swap was to eliminate the transit time, which can be up to a month, as the warship makes its way out to a far away area (like the Persian Gulf), every six months. With Sea Swap, the ship stays out there for up to two years, while the crews do their usual six months at sea before flying home. But when the navy ran an opinion survey of the Sea Swap sailors, they found 84 percent considered a Sea Swap deployment worse than a regular one. The reason? Simple, the sailors actually enjoyed the month it took to go from San Diego to the Persian Gulf, because the ship made stops along the way and sailors got to go ashore in a variety of exotic locations. The sailors took the old Join the Navy and See the World recruiting slogan quite seriously, and literally. When flown out to the Persian Gulf, the sailors went right to work in a war zone, which was a lot harder than the more leisurely routine practiced during a transit (to a new location) cruise. Worse yet, the survey found 73 percent of the Sea Swap sailors would not stay in the navy if all their future deployments were via Sea Swap. The new deployment method has only been used a few times so far, as an experiment, and they navy was planning to expand the use of it. While there has been no dip in reenlistments yet, the navy takes the survey results seriously, and will consider doing something to make up for a fringe benefit most officers had never noticed.


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