DOD Budget Cuts - MSC Changes

Budget cuts heading our way…right???

  • Lay up an AKE or two?
  • Lay up some older AOs?
  • CIVMAR lay-offs (reduction-in-force)
  • Stop hiring new CIVMARs?
  • Cancel AO(X) program?
  • Cancel ARS(X) program?
  • Contract out tugs and ARSs?
  • Hospital ships to the James River Fleet?
  • Reduction of Shore-Side Staff (Highly doubtful!)
  • Union folks doing UnReps (they do it on the T-5 class tanker right??)

Does the shifting of all MSC personnel to Norfolk from Washington Navy Yard (MSC HQ) mean anything? Article in VA Pilot about this, will be happening soon. Maybe they can use this as a reason to increase number of shore-side personnel even more!

When will the COMFORT be moving down to its new pier near NOB South Wall?

here’s a few to try on for size

Cut crew sizes 50% and they’ll still be double the crew size of the average commercial merchant ship…why does it take so many hands to man MSC vessels?

Stop building new ships now especially more T-AGS and Range Instrumentation ships.

Lay up every TAGS…the ocean has been surveyed enough already

ROS any ship that stays dockside more than 50% in a year…slash the crew on those vessels 75% at least

commercial operators for every ship unless they carry nukes…I’ve carried my share of high value weapons without being a civmar and they all got delivered just fine thank you very much

Can’t cut crew size. The only reason Msc has so many people onboard is due to cargo movement, actually this is something Msc does well. The same ship for the usn would have three or four times the number. Msc does more with less. Cutting Msc cost at the deck plate is not where cost cutting should happen, it should be done shore side. The ships get a day rate from the usn. The shore side that does nothing piggy backs on the money made by the ships. As the shore side gets larger and larger more and more is spent from the funding.

Laying up TAGS would do nothing, those are contract vessels. They did shelve the new TAOX hulls for the time being.

No one carries nukes at sea any longer. I doubt there us a man power pool in the commercial world trained to take the civmars jobs. If there were it would have been done.

No Msc ship is pier side 50 percent of the time, perhaps the hospital ships and they are ROS.

The underway replenishment ships with MSC cannot have their crews cut back by much. It may seem to the commercial seaman that they are grossly overmanned, but during certain evolutions damned near everyone onboard is up and working. When was the last time a commercial ship was refueling an aircraft carrier to port, one after another destroyers and frigates to starboard and moving palletized cargo via helicopter on the helo deck.
IIRC, a fuel rig on an MSC ship takes about eight men to run. Conceivably, five fuel rigs could be flying in the scenario I just descibed. That’s forty people right off the bat on deck. Helo ops requires two fire fighting teams standing by in addition to the LSO, LSE, chocks and chains personel, a hook up man, forklift driver(s), and a few guys to break down the cargo nets and get them out of the way.
All of these operations are very labor intensive. There is just no way around it.

True. There was a GAO study some years ago, I know because I was involved with it. They counted heads, looked at the job requirements and in the end came down to 65 to 75 as a possible crew size. But then if you are involved with day to day operations and depending on location they agreed more would be needed. The commercial mindset of taking a ship from point A to point B with a small crew is just not the way Msc operates. Commercial ships have stevedores load and off load the ship. Sense Msc moves cargo at sea the crew sizes are fixed for the most part. Not saying Msc could do better with manning, but not a lot of leeway.

The problem with Msc is not the civmars, it’s the management shoreside that makes it ineffective.

Right, captain. Its like trying to compare hippos with giraffes. The jobs the MSC fleet support ships perform are so different from anything that exists in the commercial world as to be almost unrecognizable.
I was sending palletized cargo via stramrig to USS Gallery one time. The first LT over there wanted to talk to the rig captain so I got on the SP phone. The LT wanted me to slow the pace down because his guys couldn’t keep up. Boy, did I get to razz him!

Hello All…

Okay Okay…enough with the CIVMAR vs. union thing. We get it. Other ways MSC is going to reduce costs???

If the unions could do it cheaper, they would be doing it already. Please giveme some more ideas. Can someone please epxlain to me how the T5 (Champion Class) Tankers handled Uneps? Is there for some cost savings here? They had only (1) rig on thier port side??

[QUOTE=Xmsccapt(ret);58144]I doubt there us a man power pool in the commercial world trained to take the civmars jobs. If there were it would have been done.[/QUOTE]

MSC has been turning more and more of its vessels over to commercial operators over the past 30 years because it costs the Navy less to do that. Even ships chartered to MSC have USNS on the bows these days. I would say from a commercial mariner’s standpoint that there is very little work that civmars do that cannot be done with union mariners including unreps given the right training. Remember there is no difference between your license and my license.Personally, I would not want to take over the T-AO and T-AE ships but it doesn’t mean we can’t.

As an aside, I hear MSC people tell me that the Navy is the “customer” for MSC. That might be correct if it is a commercial ship on charter to MSC but for USNS ships the Navy is the boss.

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Don’t get me wrong, C Captain. I’m not saying that the unions or a private company couldn’t DO the UnRep jobs. I’m saying they couldn’t do it with significantly less people. Sure, the steward department and supply weenies are by and large movable ballast, but when you come up against Navy manning regs for operating the helo deck you need them to move to the helo deck to be part of the firefighting teams.

Naval war reserve. If you don’t know what the term is you need to find out. There have been Msc charter ships for years, and in fact there are more charter ships than NFAF. But, the USN will most certainly keep the NFAF manned by DOD under the banner of naval war reserve. Don’t confuse the term with the merchant marine naval reserve a totally different banner.
True, I could employ a number or prior Msc mariners and get a contract and be totally commercial But I’d still not fall under the naval war reserve and may be why More have not tried to break into the NFAF unrep portion of Msc.
While the contract operators may consider the USN the boss, the Msc community does not. Th term customer is much more palatable as there are times the NFAF portion of Msc has had to tell the USN " nope, I am a professional mariner and that is not the way we do things" then make other arrangements. When I sailed for them I was always amazed that some LT or LCDR would come into an operational command (N3) and within a week be dictating to those with 40 years of experience about at sea logistics. If we saw them as the boss would certainly be aground and in fire.

The commercial tanker unrep idea was test. Like most test there were good and bad. The unrep gurus made a bolt on platform for commercial tankers as a sort of force multiplier. Ok in thought, but final plans did not include: extended time alongside and the lack of man power to support longer operations, the fact that the commercial tanker is not able to make approaches, and the biggest down fall was no support for mechanical repairs to the equipment. Anyone that has used unrep gear knows it takes a lot of care and maintenance. The commercial ships I dealt with had none and hence when deployed with them we had to send support over via small boat often times before an unrep. Still, with all the problems the event was overseen by a USN officer and so when the final report went in it read like a total success. Sort of like the CART team ideas. That works about as well. The CART groups arrive comprised of USN reserve people that are employed as store clerks, postal employees, and circuit city cell phone sales people. For a week or two they play at being a mariner. A total flop… But always written up as a glowing success.

I sailed on the Richard G Matheison, one of those T5 tankers with the unrep platform. I was on for 4 months and we were going to use it once. Fortunately, it didn’t happen. All the gear was stored in several containers that hadn’t been opened in months (maybe over a year). Would have required rigging the whole thing. Not even sure if anyone onboard knew how exactly. Maybe the mate and bosun, as they had been onboard when used during the first Gulf War (I was on in '91-'92). Who knows how much maintenance/repair would have been required just to get it working. As far as I could see, it was mostly for show. The real mission of the T5s, besides transporting product for the military worldwide, was being ice classified to deliver to Antarctica and Thule, Greenland. Did the Antarctic run. Been there, seen it, wouldn’t really want to do it again.

Here’s one to ask. Why does the Navy and MSC still do unreps in hand steering? Have they no idea of what a fanbeam or Syscan is? They cannot be totally clueless to DP since the T-AGS and the ZEUS are DP vessels

Also, what is the eff are they building those new MLP auxiliary platform ships or whatever they’re called for $370M each and that’s just the capital costs?!? Give me $45k/day and I’ll put DP on a 10 year old heavylift submersible and fully man the thing for the Navy. Why in the hell is that one not going commercial? Oh yeah I forgot, welfare for NASSCO. Criminal!

Good point. Lack of DP within the MSC NFAF ships I would say is cost. All the NFAF ships would need to be retrofitted. Question? Would DP allow two ships to steam at 160 feet making 13 kts? If not, then it would be a waste of money as the USN wants to be going somewhere not sitting at sea transferring cargo. I do think there will come a time that a better method will be the norm. When I did unreps we were still using sound powered phones and distance lines, 40 year old technology if not older. I bet that has not changed a bit.

I just read an article on the MLP ( mobile landing platform) by a retired USN captain. In the article he outlines the need for a DP system. However the planners decided to not put DP on the platform. The operation of the MLP has not been decked that I know of. I would think it would go contract, but I’m not watching the progress that close.

Many years ago, before DP, I remember asking why we didn’t use the iron mike while unrepping. The old timer captain told me that things were done manually in case of attack. You had people to back up others who might get killed. And you had less systems to get damaged in an attack. I suppose that is still a valid way of looking at it.

what is the eff are they building those new MLP auxiliary platform ships or whatever they’re called for $370M each and that’s just the capital costs?!? Give me $45k/day and I’ll put DP on a 10 year old heavylift submersible and fully man the thing for the Navy. Why in the hell is that one not going commercial? Oh yeah I forgot, welfare for NASSCO. Criminal!
c captain
you didnt grease the right politicians:)

What the USN should do is meet with Chouest. Have them build the platform with DP and man it. All Chouest wants is a contract for five years. Good deal when they build the ship for the contract exactly what is wanted for the operation and man it with experienced DP operators.

[QUOTE=Xmsccapt(ret);58193]Question? Would DP allow two ships to steam at 160 feet making 13 kts? [/QUOTE]

Not usual for DP systems but very doable…just engineering. I understand that the HOS submarine escort vessels in Bangor are DP’ing off the Trident subs at that kind of speed.

I just read an article on the MLP ( mobile landing platform) by a retired USN captain. In the article he outlines the need for a DP system. However the planners decided to not put DP on the platform

$370M per copy and not DP? AAAAARRRRRRGGGGHHHHHHHH!!! I think my head is about to explode!

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=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.