[QUOTE=Xmsccapt(ret);58269]Escort and transferring cargo are two different animals. I think the real “rub” with DP and most MSC masters would be when DP is working great! But as we know engineering is not perfect, a time will come when the ship would need to revert back to hand steering alongside. That is a perishable skill and when the time came I can bet few if any watch standard would be able to pull it off. That along with the cost would prohibit further movement on DP for MSC, at least for the time being and current platforms.[/QUOTE]
Arguably, the UNREP helmsman skill is already perishing today, what with the dissolution of the AB(W) billet (an AB is an AB is an AB; any ship any time any mariner) and the increase in non-UNREP ships (salvage, tender, command ships, etc).
Cost-cutting within MSC is going to follow big Navy. CNO’s messages keep talking about the shooters being more forward…meaning less downtime between deployments. Their reductions are going to be in laying up LSDs, CGs, etc and focusing resources on fewer hulls while trying to maintain their forward presence. So MSC will still have an UNREP mission even as the USN downsizes. Or so the theory goes. Since NAVSEA still prevents S/F from doing basic repairs on the USN ships, it may not be realistic to reduce the inter-deployment maintenance and training cycle.
Expect AOEs to ROS and maybe an AKE or two to ROS. Doubt the AO-x will stay off the table too long, Lousiana and SoCal Congressional interest will be very high to keep NASSCO and Avondale hanging steel. ATS-x…still a pipe dream.
Of course with world events what they are, thing may get more Reagan-esque (less ground forces, more naval force projection) and MSC will continue on as always.