Government watchdog says Navy needs to address ship manning before increasing fleet size

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Government Accountability Office, the government watchdog agency, has released a report stating that Navy crews are overworked and not properly staffed.

The May 18th report is titled Navy Force Structure: Actions Needed to Ensure Proper Size and Composition of Ship Crews.

The GAO did the report after a 2001 initiative where the Navy began reducing crew sizes on surface ships under "optimal manning."

It was intended to achieve workload efficiency, but in 2010 the Navy concluded that it had actually adversely affected readiness and thus began restoring crew sizes on ships.

The GAO found that the Navy's process to determine manpower requirements does not fully account for all ship workload.

In the report, it states "until the Navy makes needed changes to its factors and instruction used in determining manpower requirements, its ships may not have the right number and skill mix of sailors to maintain readiness and prevent overworking its sailors."

The report comes at a critical time for the Navy, as they look to increase the fleet from the current 274 ships to as many as 355.

Last month, Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson, released a white paper talking about the urgency for building a larger fleet.

The GAO report says "the Navy has not determined how many personnel will be needed to man these ships."

The report also makes four recommendations:

  1. that the Navy reassess the standard workweek.
  2. that the Navy examine in-port workload.
  3. that the Navy require reassessment of the factors used to develop manpower requirements.
  4. that the Navy identify the personnel costs needed to man a larger fleet.

In a response to the GAO report, the Department of Defense concurred with all four recommendations, writing in a letter that they are "committed to ensuring the Navy's manpower requirements are current, analytically-based, and will meet the needs of the existing and future surface fleet."

You can read the entire GAO report here.