ABOARD THE USS FORT WORTH IN THE JAVA SEA —The first thing you notice when you step aboard this sleek new warship is that there aren’t many sailors — but almost all are doing double duty.
Take Boatswain’s Mate First Class Alicia Miller, who on a recent day took two five-hour watches on the ship’s bridge, piloted a speedboat during a ship-boarding exercise and performed weapons and boat maintenance.
“We have a small crew, so no matter what your job is, you learn to do everyone else’s job,” said Miller, 29, from Elk River, Minn.
A member of the new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) class, the USS Fort Worth is designed to hunt submarines, clear minefields, slug it out with small warships and chase down terrorists using small, fast boats.
Though longer than a football field and more than five stories high, the Fort Worth has a crew of just 104 men and women. That’s much smaller than a conventional warship of the same size. A vast network of computers, sensors and automated systems is designed to ease the workload.