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PCU Freedom, Hybrid Sailors Experience New Way of Training

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS051030-03
Release Date: 10/30/2005 10:15:00 AM

By Journalist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Elizabeth Enockson, Naval Media Center Fleet Support Detachment Norfolk

NAVAL STATION NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the pre-commissioning unit (PCU) of Navy’s first littoral combat ship, Freedom (LCS 1), are experiencing a new kind of cross training making them the Navy’s first hybrid Sailors.

The crew, which began arriving in January, immediately started attending schools for job fields outside their designated rates.

“A hybrid is a Sailor trained in a combination of several different rates,” said Command Master Chief (SW) Joel Nissen. “For example a fire controlman that also has the training of an electronics technician can function in either job as needed. I personally think there are many hybrid Sailors already deployed around the fleet. We’re just taking it to the next level by ensuring that our crew receives as much training as possible.”

Some crew members are currently learning new skills through class room exercises, while others are working in administrative positions between schools and studying equipment specifications.

“Right now I’m learning about the new class of ship and reading up on how the engines are going to operate,” said Engineman 1st Class (SW) Randy Gallegos. “From what I’ve seen of the design it looks pretty interesting. I would like to see the finished product and find out how everything I’ve been reading about is actually going to work.”

Freedom is scheduled for delivery to the Navy in 2006. Sailors will have to learn how to adapt the skills they have learned in school to the upgraded technology of the LCS class.

“Going to hull technician school was quite a new experience,” said Engineman 2nd Class(SW) Christopher Richars. “Learning a new rate, something I had no prior knowledge of, was fun.”

“I’m looking forward to going to our new ship. It’s a new class so even the jobs I will be doing as an EN [engineman] will be different,” added Richars. “It’s almost like going to a ship for the first time, learning the new systems and doing jobs I’ve never done before. I think it’s going to be a challenge, but I’m excited.”

Working with new systems will not be the only challenge the crew has to face. Despite it’s size of 378 feet, the ship’s projected crew compliment will only be 75.

“Working with a small crew can be considered a challenge' but it’s not insurmountable,” said Nissen. “I’ve been on many small decks in my career. The smaller the crew, the more tight nit they are. I think we’re a pretty tight-nit group already, and I think this is going to be the best ship I’ve ever been on.”


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