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Radical crew plan starts with cruisers Cowpens, Gettysburg

Stripped down crews on the cruisers Gettysburg and Cowpens aren't going to be seeing action anytime soon. anywhere any time soon.,

The Navy is cutting dropping the crew of 375 enlisted and officers that's led by an O-6 to one with 45 crewmembers who are led by an O-4. This radical manpower shift is for the period the Navy is calling to That's because the Navy is shelving the two top-of-the-line surface combatants for four years in a program its calling "phased modernization," where the cruisers will be parked be put in lay-up pierside and then receive which seeks to buy back some service life through a complete overhaul of the mechanical and combat systems to boost the effectiveness and lengthen the lifespan of the surface fleet's top-of-the-line combatants, all while keeping the ships pier-side and away from the front lines.

The caretaker crew will oversee the ship during the four-year pierside period and the $360 million-per-hull fixer-upper project.

The ships, traditionally manned by about 375 officers and crew and skippered by an O-6, will drop down to 45 officers and crew and will be commanded by a lieutenant commander while the Navy embarks on the $360 million-per-hull fixer-upper project.

Command of the Cowpens transferred from Capt. Scott Sciretta to Lt. Cmdr. Horst Sollfrank in San Diego on Sept. 25 and Lt. Cmdr. Steve Puskas took command of Gettysburg from Capt. John Schmidt in Mayport, Florida, on Sept. 30. Most of the sailors are being transferred off the ship.

The sailors in the smaller crew assigned will be in sea duty billets and collecting sea pay, because they are technically assigned to a commissioned warship, and the COs will wear command pins on their uniformsBut Between active modernization periods, sailors will be honing their skills all over the waterfront, the fleet's top surface boss saidtold Navy Times in a Sept. 30 interview.

"Those individuals can be used in a number of ways, planning for the next portion of the phased modernization," said Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, who leads Naval Surface Forces, in a Sept. 30 phone interview. "Also pursuing their qualifications, and the opportunity to get additional [Navy enlisted classifications] based on that they are working at the regional maintenance centers. They'll also be training and, because they are at the RMCs, they'll be fixing ships."

The sailors assigned to Cowpens and Gettysburg are iscomposed primarily in engineering and combat systems ratings types, second class petty officers and up, but the crew also comprises operations specialists, yeomen and boatswain's mates, said Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman Matthew Leonard in an email.

The cruisers Vicksburg and Chosin will join Gettysburg and Cowpens in 2016, according to a plan put forward earlier this year. Previous plans to lay-up as many as 11 cruisers have been blocked by lawmakers who were concerned that the Navy's move was a step towards retiring them early. The latest plan, known as "2-4-6," calls for two ships at a time to be sidelined for no longer than four years and that no more than six ships will be in this inactive status at one time.

When Cowpens and Gettysburg rejoin the fleet in 2020, they will have a brand new combat system and have undergone a soup-to-nuts overhaul of their mechanical and electrical systems, Leonard wrote. That includes: Included in the overhaul will be:

  • The installation of AEGIS baseline 9a, the latest and greatest version of the operating system that integrates the ship's primary weapons systems and sensors.
  • Naval integrated fire control-counter air, a system that links up airborne sensors that extend the range and lethality of the ship's anti-air missiles.
  • SPQ-9B multipurpose radar, designed to track incoming anti-ship missiles and other low-flying threats out to the horizon.
  • Cooperative engagement capability, which will allows the ship to shoot a threat being tracked by another platform.
  • AN/SQQ-89A(V)-15 anti-submarine warfare suite with multi-function towed array, allowing the ship to better hunt subs at different depths.
  • Multiple upgrades to the hull, mechanical and electrical plants.

When the cruisers come back to the fleet, they will be unmatched in capabilities, Rowden said Rowden, the fleet's top surface warfare officer said/removed as this makes it sound like you're introducing someone new/sf

"With the installation of AEGIS baseline 9a, not only on our cruisers but on our destroyers, and the installation of the ... multi-function towed array — leveraging the capability of the [AN/SPY-1] spy radar: I think you could say without reservation, you are now sailing around on the most powerful warships that steam on the face of this earth," he said.

"Some people may want to have a debate with me on that, but I tell you what: You take the men and women that serve in our Navy and you put a platform like a baseline 9 cruiser or destroyer under them; with our training and our expertise we'll take anybody on."

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