PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- Six years of training program development came to fruition when the second ship in the revolutionary Littoral Combat Ship class, USS Independence (LCS 2) was commissioned in Mobile, Ala., Jan. 16.
The Center for Surface Combat Systems (CSCS), part of the Naval Education and Training Command (NETC), played a significant role in the ship's development by leading the LCS Program training plan that will enable the ship's crew to conduct global operations in support of the Maritime Strategy.
A 419-foot aluminum trimaran, Independence is the first of its design in the surface fleet. The ship is part of an innovative manning construct that reduces crew size, demanding each Sailor maintain high levels of proficiency in multiple fields. Although about the same physical size as a traditional Navy frigate with a crew of 200, the Independence is staffed by a crew of only 40 Sailors that can be augmented by detachment specialists for specific missions.
"LCS is the future of our surface Navy," said Vice Adm. D. C. Curtis, commander, Naval Surface Forces. "This program will complement the strengths of larger warships. LCS will be a deterrent of green and brown water threats; the flexibility, versatility, and smart design of Independence make it well suited for joint operations."
"The development of LCS training to enable the ship's capabilities has truly been a cross-enterprise project," said Capt. Stephen Hampton, the second of two CSCS commanding officers to oversee the LCS training project. "Capt. Roger 'Rick' Easton, who I relieved, was the first. He and our CSCS team laid the groundwork for the new LCS training construct, definitions, requirements, and training pipelines. My challenge has been to take the foundation that Capt. Easton laid, and refine those training requirements, as well as introduce system-centric procedures that can be measured with qualification metrics, measures, and standards. It was critical to identify training systems that support a continuum across the range of required maintenance, operations, and employment skills and abilities so that our Sailors are prepared to fight and win."
To ensure LCS Sailors are well-prepared to operate their revolutionary platforms, an LCS training pipeline was developed to teach fundamental systems knowledge. The pipeline is already proving effective for the crew of USS Freedom (LCS 1), scheduled to deploy next month a full two years ahead of schedule. LCS systems training commenced for Independence's rotational blue and gold crews in 2005.
Since the inception of training, CSCS learning sites have provided operations, combat, and weapon systems training totaling more than 2,900 training days to Independence crewmembers. This equates to more than one-fourth of all the training received by Independence crewmembers.
A Train-to-Qualify (T2Q) process was defined that connects the initial LCS training model to Personnel Qualification Standards (PQS). T2Q is a new concept for the surface force that shifts qualification training from the ship to shore training, meaning that LCS Sailors report aboard ready to stand their watch and execute assigned duties.
"LCS 2 PQS is different from PQS on traditional ships, by removing subjectivity," said Hampton. "It employs Objective Measures, Metrics and Standards (OMMS) that require trainee performance to be measured against specific criteria and specific procedure. OMMS ensures that each trainee achieves a common standard that results in the LCS commanding officers and fleet leadership having confidence in the abilities of the new personnel they receive."
The LCS Shore-Based Training Facility (SBTF), a simulator operated by CSCS, is the final step in the LCS Train to Qualify process. Robert Shifflet, director of training at facility, and his team of nine instructors administer LCS Capstone Training.
"The training is unique," said Shifflet. "The simulator is designed to look and feel like an LCS ship's bridge while maneuvering at sea. It integrates synthetic radar scenarios with a corresponding video display that creates a very life-like tactical training environment for Integrated Command Center (ICC) and bridge watchstanders.
"The fully integrated training is the first of its kind in surface warfare," added Shifflet. "It is unique in that it delivers bridge and ICC coordinated command and control procedures for platform, system, and people employment."
"The LCS class training structure, training system approach, and training process, particularly the development of high fidelity SBTFs in the Fleet Concentrate Areas (FCAs) similar to that of the aviator and submarine community, is a postitive step forward for the surface force," added Hampton. "In the future, as the training matures, LCS Sailors will be ready to operate and employ LCS systems against a more realistic set of scenarios; perhaps better than any other class in surface ship history."
For more information about CSCS, visit https://www.netc.navy.mil/centers/cscs/.
For more news from Naval Education and Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnet/.