Surface Forces: January 30, 2004


Two years ago, the U.S. Navy began the Optimal Manning Experiment. The objective was to reduce crew size. The crews of selected ships were  asked to rearrange the jobs and schedules on their ships so that fewer sailors were needed. But the changes could not increase the workload for the remaining sailors, or reduce the ships ability to fight. The experiment took place on three ships; The amphibious ship Boxer (LHD 4), the destroyer Milius (DDG 69) and the cruiser Mobile Bay (CG 53). The reductions averaged about ten percent. The amphibious ship, with a crew of nearly a thousand, was able to cut a hundred sailors from their roster. The destroyer cut enlisted sailor strength from 290 to 237. The cruiser, with a slightly larger crew than the destroyer, cut 30 sailors. The Optimal Manning program looked at every job and ignored the usual, "because we've always done it that way," justification for each job and the way it was done. Many sailors and petty officers already had ideas on how their jobs could be done more easily. Technical experts were available to determine if equipment could be used in different ways, or not getting as much attention as in the past. Some administrative jobs, it was decided, could be done back at the port. This was a result of better communications. Today, it's possible for a sailor on a ship to pick up a phone and call someone else anywhere on the planet. All ships now have Internet access via a satellite connection.

The cuts were made on these ships, and a year later, the sailors agree that it works. And they like having more living space. The navy is now applying the Optimal Manning experiment to submarines and aviation units.


Article Archive

Surface Forces : Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close