The Navy has established a council of four admirals to oversee the operational development of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) class and to implement the lessons learned through a series of studies earlier this year.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert issed the memo on Wednesday to the director of the Navy staff, Vice Adm. Richard Hunt, putting him in charge of the LCS council and ordering him to come up with a plan by early next year.

Greenert also assigned Vice Adm. Mark Skinner, the principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Navy for research development and acquisition, Vice Adm. Kevin McCoy, commander of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), and Vice Adm. Tom Copeman, the commander of naval surface forces, to the council. Greenert said others can be added as Hunt sees fit.

The council’s work will be based on five studies dating to February that include two war gaming reports, an assessment of the Navy readiness to receive and deploy the LCSs, and one on the combat ship’s maintainability.

The Navy is still working through the operational doctrine for the vessels, manufacturing redesigns and re-evaluating manning after concluding a baseline of 40 crew is probably insufficient. The Navy has already deployed the first two ships of the class, the USS Freedom (LCS-1) and USS Independence (LCS-2). A third based on the Freedom variant, the Fort Worth (LCS-3), is to be commissioned next month.

“USS Freedom and USS Independence represent significant departures from the normal shipbuilding path,” Greenert said in the memo. “They were, by direction and plan, built as test and evaluation platforms and provided to the fleet for experimentation to refine concept development, modularity, employment of off-board vehicles and conduct risk mitigation for follow-on vehicles.”

“All combat Navy ships, even test and evaluation platforms, must be ready to meet assigned capability and mission starting the first day of active service,” he added.

The Navy plans to deploy the Freedom to Singapore for eight months beginning next year.

Greenert said the immediate focus of the LCS council will be to develop and implement a plan of action, including establishing milestone, by the end of January.