Like the coffee that flows through the veins of a sleep-deprived surface-warfare officer, Sea Swap provides an initial burst but then leaves nothing in the system but wreckage and bitterness. The rotation of crews through ships is a trap, a superficial answer to the Navy’s desire to extend the staying time of its surface platforms that will only result in greater cost. Its gains are a mirage, savings bought at the cost of ship life and maintenance. The “renter’s” phenomenon (natural disregard without ownership), ships’ individual personalities, and decreased vessel life should be the final nails in Sea Swap’s coffin.
In the January Proceedings , Navy Reserve Lieutenant Johannes Schonberg cites the rental-car industry as a sign of Sea Swapping’s potential, but the problem with this model is precisely the lack of ownership. In a naval vessel, the renter problem involves Game Theory’s “tragedy of the commons,” in which players maximize their immediate benefit at the expense of a resource’s health due to costs being communal and, thus, indirect for individuals. Most people who rent cars are prevented from egregious abuses by contracts that specify major costs, while no proactive work is done to maintain the condition of the vehicle. It is driven hard, with little of the love necessary to keep an automobile in true running shape.