CNO: First Few New Frigates to Have Single Crews

An artist’s rendering of the guided-missile frigate FFG(X). The new small surface combatant will have multi-mission capability to conduct air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, electronic warfare, and information operations. U.S. Navy

ARLINGTON, Va. — The chief of naval operations (CNO) said the new first few Constellation guided-missile frigate (FFG 62) will have single crews, a plan that will be in place while the Navy assesses its crew concept. The lessons learned during the littoral combat ship (LCS) program and its Blue/Gold crew concept will be used to inform the crew concept for the frigate. 

“I’m going to move very deliberately and slowly in the crewing concept,” said CNO Adm. Michael Gilday, speaking Jan. 11 during a Surface Navy Association convention webinar. “I’m heading down the line of a single crew for that ship, at least for the first few ships. We’ve got to get that right. This is the Navy’s ‘Space-X.’”  

“When we started building [the] frigate, we looked a lot at LCS, for example, the way we train on LCS, a really good model we’re going to leverage for FFG 62,” said Vice Adm. Roy Kitchener, commander, Naval Surface Forces, speaking to reporters in a Jan. 8 teleconference. “We did look at what we did on LCS, the Blue/Gold concept and how we’re going to fit them [the ships] out, and we think that is probably the way to get the most presence as we usually do.”  

“The crew on a frigate will be larger, so there’s kind of inherently more capability in that crew,” said Rear Adm. Paul Schlise, director of Surface Warfare in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, also speaking at the teleconference. “It’s not a minimally manned platform as LCS was, so any margin for having a few extra people around was largely taken out of the LCS in our attempts to make that crew as minimally manned as possible.”  

Schlise said the new frigate’s crew “will support being able to do more multi-mission sorts of things, whereas the LCS is more a single-mission, one-mission-at-a-time platform. And there’s some more ability for the crew to do its own maintenance. Planned maintenance will be done much more so by the ship’s force crew on a frigate, on the ‘Connie’ class, than on LCS.” 

Schlise said the LCS Blue/Gold crew concept is informing the FFG 62 crew concept.  

“There’s some ability to potentially deploy the ships for longer with a rotational crew model, and we are still learning about how to do that and what that right rotation is. So, it’s a little bit pre-decisional still with Connie,” he said. “At least the first few hulls — and I’m not going to give you a number because we haven’t decided yet — we will probably single-crew the first few hulls because there’s a lot of test and evaluation to go through with a new platform like that, and wringing out the new systems, going through all the testing required to bring a new platform fully into this fleet, to get it to IOC [Initial Operational Capability] and FOC [Full Operational Capability]. If we do modify that crewing model farther down the road, that is something that’s under consideration, and we’re looking to of course give the best [availability for operations] to the fleet commander that we can with the platforms.” 

The first new frigate, Constellation, is planned for IOC in 2026.