Most days, Annika McCalla works in Denton, Texas, as an engineer for an oil and gas company. On this day, however, Petty Officer 1st Class McCalla was in Singapore working aboard littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), as the unofficial “Oil Queen,” responsible for inventorying, testing, and bringing aboard fuel and oil.
McCalla and nine other Navy Reservists completed the first reserve overseas LCS support mission in Singapore. The team, a forward logistics element (FLE), was hand-selected from Navy Reserve (NR) LCS units from across America. As top Sailors from the LCS community, they carried the responsibility of demonstrating an entirely new and robust Reserve LCS mission set. In this new mission, Navy reservists would travel the globe to integrate with embarked active duty crews to support maintenance and anti-terrorism/force protection (ATFP) requirements aboard LCS.
In June, the FLE members converged in San Diego and then flew to Singapore. After traversing the Pacific, the Reserve team boarded Fort Worth and settled in for their three week mission assisting the ship’s force in repairs and preparations for Fort Worth’s return transit to San Diego.
Ships like Fort Worth are slated to become a foundational pillar of the Navy’s surface fleet. Upon completion, 40 ships of the class are expected to compose one sixth of the Navy’s fleet. The LCS program innovates manning changes as well as technology. The core crew is composed of 50 Sailors who are responsible for the maintenance and operation of each ship.
Extensive automation and contractor support assists in minimizing the crew’s workload but only the ship’s crew can take the ship through the many levels of certification required for operation. It is here the Reserve community finds an important niche. As Sailors, reservists can augment the crew in ways that cannot be done by contractors, such as facilitating tag-outs, contractor escorts, equipment operations, force protection watches, and more.