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Maritime Logistics Community News : Autumn 2010
30 NAVY SUPPLY NEWSLETTER AUTUMN 2010 Both ships are comparable in size to a FFG, however unlike an FFG, the core complement consists of two operating crews of 45 personnel. Of the 45 personnel, only five in each crew are dedicated to the supply department. With the introduction of a second vessel INDEPENDENCE this has made the new obstacles and challenges for those directly supporting the vessels, which possess a drastically different hull shape, two new inexperienced crews and the ship docked in a comparatively rural area. Distance Support Minimal shipboard manning of the LCS presents significant challenges to effectively accomplishing the traditional Supply and Maintenance workload afloat. The key enabler allowing the LCS to be a minimally manned platform is the distance support concept which is reliant upon streamlined processes to transfer the bulk of the supply workload ashore. The function of the Maritime Support Detachment (MSD) located in San Diego is to provide a single decision centre, enabled with integrated information technology processes that provide overall asset visibility and an "operationalised" shore infrastructure. The MSD has both civilian and military supply logisticians working side-by-side with maintainers to provide direct support to the LCS platforms. Co-location of supply and maintenance teams at the MSD is aimed at providing optimal decisions between engineering and supply departments to improve operational availability and ensure structured decision making. The supply orientated mechanism of MSD aims to meet all of the functions that a ship with a full complement supply department would conduct at-sea providing support for finance, pay, personnel administration and general ship's correspondence. Recent Support For the first time since the inception of the distance support/minimum manning project in the USN, both LCS vessels were in the same area of responsibility resulting in numerous competing logistics requirements from the same Logistic Support Centre (Mayport), significantly increasing the workload expected from the personnel involved. Whilst there were challenges in providing simultaneous distance support for two LCS ships, the personnel involved in the support operation continued to overcome these 'real time' obstacles with innovation and open communication. As the Logistic Support Officer in Mayport Florida, my logistics team were the central focal point and support network for FREEDOM (LCS1) and INDEPENDENCE (LCS2) throughout the month of March 2010 whilst both ships were operating in the 4th Fleet Area of Operation. Together, INDEPENDENCE and FREEDOM conducted five separate port visits throughout the month which reiterated the requirement for open and continuous communication between all parties involved with distance support. While the logistics team in San Diego are the main point of contact for the ship, the ship maintains one external designated Logistics Support Representative associated with a particular Logistic Support Centre (in this case Fleet Industrial Support Centre Jacksonville's Mayport detachment), and is the point of contact for all logistic issues while the ship is in port. The LSR is a liaison for materiel, provisions, canteen items, port services (including fuelling, cranes and vehicles) and any other support the vessel may require. Supply Officer and Supply Department Whilst INDEPENDENCE and FREEDOM have two completely different hull shapes onboard both ships the Supply Department is approximately 10% the size of a Supply department found aboard a comparable sized vessel. The Supply Officer is a Senior Chief Petty Officer (Similar to an Australian Chief Petty Officer Equivalent) and as the Head of Department is responsible for three Cooks and one Medic onboard the ship. US Navy Littoral Combat Ships -- Distance Support The first of the USN Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) was commissioned in 2008 -- USS FREEDOM (LCS-1) -- with the second USS INDEPENDENCE (LCS-2), commissioned, 16 January 2010 in Mobile, Alabama BY LEUT S.E. WHITEMAN, RAN LOGISTICS SUPPORT OFFICER NAVAL STATION MAYPORT