NAVAL STATION INGLESIDE, Texas (NNS) -- Sailors stationed aboard mine warfare vessels homeported at Naval Station Ingleside departed Feb. 12-26 for a six-month deployment aboard mine warfare ships forward-deployed in the Persian Gulf. They are replacing the crews currently manning those ships, who will in turn return to South Texas.
The “crew swap” initiative increases forward naval presence by keeping a single ship hull continuously present in a given area of operations while swapping crews at six-month intervals. It increases the on-station time for the ship without extending deployments for crew members, and it saves wear and tear on the ship, weeks of transit time and is meant to more efficiently use available resources.
The first mine warfare crew swaps occurred in August, after approval from Commander, Fleet Forces Command (CFFC) to begin crew swap evolutions with its ships in Bahrain.
“We have improved the process based on lessons learned from our first crew swaps,” said Rear Adm. Deborah Loewer, commander, Mine Warfare Command, “so we are able to transfer our people more economically and efficiently.
This is in line with the Chief of Naval Operations' 2005 guidance of Sea Enterprise, to “create an environment that supports the rapid implementation of improved processes...to place priority on the deliberate pursuit of efficiency...and improving readiness for global response.”
The benefit of crew swap to Mine Warfare Command is the high operational availability achieved from the four ships in theater. The current 18-month schedule achieves a 3-to-1 turnaround, which means that Ingleside Sailors will be forward deployed for six months and in homeport for 18 months. Higher operational availability is achieved as crew certifications are completed in the Corpus Christi operating area prior to the crews arriving in theater.
The crew swap timeline is phased in order to meet Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet operational schedules and avoid loss of theater awareness by swapping all crews simultaneously. The oncoming crews will have a seven-day turnover period with the off-going crews, who will be returning to man Ingleside ships.
“The Sailors that manned USS Chief (MCM 14) here are already in Bahrain embarked on USS Ardent (MCM 12),” said Capt. Craig Kleint, commander, Mine Warfare Squadron 2. “Prior to their deployment, they underwent an INSURV (Board of Inspection and Survey), an inspection to ensure a ship’s combat readiness. They did extremely well, and I know that will help them sustain mission readiness as they prepare for INSURV aboard Ardent.”
Ingleside Sailors from MCM (mine countermeasures) Crew Bulwark relieved Sailors aboard forward-deployed USS Ardent (MCM 12). Sailors who were embarked on Ardent - MCM Crew Conflict - returned to Ingleside Feb. 21.
Sailors from MHC (coastal minehunter) Crew Valor relieved Sailors aboard USS Cardinal (MHC 60). Sailors who were embarked on Cardinal - MHC Crew Aggressive - returned to Ingleside Feb. 24.
MCM Crew Swerve relieved Sailors on USS Dextrous (MCM 13). Sailors who were embarked on Dextrous - MCM Crew Fearless - returned to Ingleside Feb. 28.
Sailors from MHC Crew Inflict will relieve Sailors on board USS Raven (MHC 61). Once turnover is completed, those Sailors - MHC Crew Prestige - will also return to Naval Station Ingleside.