LCS Sailors: Underway and Making a Big Impact 
By Lt. j.g. Robin Roberts, USS Independence (LCS 2) Public Affairs 
SAN DIEGO – Over 20 pre-commissioning unit (PCU) Independence (LCS 2) Blue Crew Sailors refreshed their rating skills and spent time training in other rates with USS Peleliu (LHA 4) Strike Group during their Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) March 12 through March 28.

LCS ships have a crew of 40 Sailors and need to be prepared to operate the ship as if it had 100 personnel onboard. This calls for every Sailor attached to an LCS crew to not only be a master at their rating, but to also have the same knowledge on other ratings as well. LCS crews have been training in classrooms and labs until now.

“One critical difference between operations on LCS as opposed to a DDG or FFG is not so much the individual skill sets required to operate the ship, but rather that those skills reside in only a handful of individuals,” said Independence Blue Crew Commanding Officer, Commander Curt Renshaw. “For example, USS Halsey’s Combat Information Center (CIC) is manned by 10 to 20 watch standers who all have specific functions to perform, while Independence’s CIC will have only two to three who will need to perform the same amount of tasks.”

Chief Boatswains Mate (SW) Charles Gatewood, Chief Gunners Mate (SW) Chad France, and Boatswains Mate 2nd Class (SW) Katrina Williams returned from the USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) recently where they applied lessons they learned on well deck operations to the LCS mission bay procedures. They also conducted training on anti-terrorism/force protection skills they had learned for Pearl Harbor Sailors. France and Williams taught a broad range of skills including non-lethal strikes, baton usage, mechanical advantage control holds, cuffing and take down procedures.

“We’ve received a lot of training in the LCS pipeline, and it was nice to be able to finally apply that training to other Sailors in the fleet,” said France. “There are certain basic skills that every Sailor needs, and we were honored the Pearl Harbor trusted us to help provide training for her upcoming deployment.”

Culinary Specialist 1st Class (SW) Bobby Sy Go spent time onboard USS Benfold (DDG 65) observing helicopter operations to prepare himself for his position on LCS 2’s flight deck team. He also assisted in food service division record keeping, where his training and expertise assisted Benfold in addition to keeping himself sharp in the nuances of food service management.

“It was a great experience for my crew to get underway and experience first-hand some of the myriad skills they will need on LCS ships,” said Renshaw. “We have a very experienced, talented crew, so in addition to working on their new skills, they were also able to bring value added to their host crews in a true win-win scenario.”

Independence is currently under construction in Mobile, Alabama by Austal Shipyards. The ships blue and gold crews are stationed in San Diego, Calif., the future homeport off the ship. Delivery of the Independence is expected in Dec. 2008.
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