Guest Blog By: Capt. Jordy Harrison, Commodore, Littoral Combat Ship Squadron ONE
The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) community has garnered quite a bit of attention in the news lately as USS Coronado (LCS 4) tested an over the horizon missile during the ship’s current deployment and the newly commissioned USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10) joined the fleet. That being said, like so many great enterprises, it’s often the less publicized efforts going on behind the scenes that make the most impact.
For LCS, the next important step for the community begins this fall when LCS stands up a mission-focused Immediate Superior In Command (ISIC) role within the current command hierarchy. Since its inception, the littoral combat ship community has operated with one overarching ISIC, Littoral Combat Ship Squadron (LCSRON) ONE, located in San Diego. The community has been steadily building fleet presence since the release of the 2016 CNO-directed LCS review findings, to include successfully stationing two LCS out of Mayport, Florida, supported by the additional ISIC role at LCSRON TWO. We’ve also fused our ships’ core crews and detachments across the LCS fleet. And now we are poised to stand up a new division known as Commander, Surface Division ELEVEN.
As we continue to grow and evolve, this new Command and Control architecture is significant because it provides firm administrative infrastructure toward our initiative to shift to a division construct in order to simplify LCS processes and streamline the chain of command. The CNO-directed study determined that operational and administrative management by a single command for 16 ships and 25 crews was excessive, and with no parallel throughout the rest of the U.S. Navy. The structure was simply too flat – and the span of control too broad. In the new construct, the division commander is responsible for four ships and seven crews, and the respective LCSRON oversees the future three divisions and the current four test ships – creating much more depth in the LCS chain of command.
So what does this new division mean for the community’s staff and crews? The biggest difference is that there is an additional ISIC and a modified reporting chain. Each division will have an O-6 major commander who will work with the commodore at the LCSRON staff. An important takeaway for all LCS Sailors is to realize that overall, between the three divisions and the squadron staff, there are no planned additions to personnel – a “zero-sum.” This means that the community is not getting more people, the community is not losing people– we are realigning throughout the personnel force to fill the billets in order to provide better support to the crews and ships.
This organizational shift has begun; we are presently standing up COMSURFACEDIVELEVEN, composed of USS Jackson (LCS 6), USS Montgomery (LCS 8), USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS 10), and (soon to be) USS Omaha (LCS 12). MCM Division 12 and ASW Division 14 will be stood up in subsequent years. Personnel moves into these new divisions will be a gradual process; for many LCS Sailors, change will not be readily apparent until after COMSURFACEDIVELEVEN attains Initial Operational Capability.
The CNO study also recommended creating a separate test division, consisting of USS Freedom (LCS 1), USS Independence (LCS 2), USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), and USS Coronado (LCS 4). As we grow to fully understand the operational employment of these test ships and progress further with the implementation of the lessons gathered in the study, we will revisit the idea of breaking these four ships out into their own division.
Looking back, it has been a very busy year; we’ve implemented major organizational changes – injecting simplicity, stability and ownership into our program. However, we know there is much more work to be done in order to set the LCS community up for long-term success in the fleet; more changes are coming and we’re moving in a new and exciting direction. We’re committed to delivering a program capable of evolving for the benefit of LCS Sailors and the operational commanders we serve.