November 1, 2009  

Manning overboard

TO THE NAVY for a lean manning policy that appears to have gone too far. Efficiency is good in any large organization, but a Naval Inspector General’s report following a visit to commands in Hampton Roads, Va., highlights a troubling trend. “Manning issues abounded throughout the region and clearly represented the greatest concern with regard to commanders’ ability to safely and effectively accomplish their missions,” said the report.

Fatigue is an increasing issue for overstretched and under-resourced sailors, leading to potentially catastrophic mistakes.

Navy leadership has viewed reductions in ship crew sizes as a way to find money for new ships and weapons systems. But that’s a poor and unwise bargain if the ships and systems cannot be safely operated. Some 60,000 sailors have been cut from the fleet over the past six years. The Navy needs to take a good hard look at whether technology has genuinely replaced those ears, eyes and hands.