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A skeleton crew is the minimum number of personnel needed to operate and maintain an item at its most simple operating requirements such as a ship or business, during an emergency and, at the same time, to keep vital functions operating.
Some example uses of skeleton crews include:
- Shipboard – The barest minimum number of personnel to keep the ship operating after it has been damaged and awaiting tow to port.
- Blizzards, hurricanes, and typhoons – The least number of personnel to remain at a business location during a major storm to monitor conditions and to make emergency repairs if possible.
- Inactivity – The least number of personnel necessary to keep an inactive facility from being vandalized such as a Texas Tower, a commercial building in transition between owners, etc.
- Temporary closings – The smallest number of employees to monitor and maintain the facility while it is otherwise shut down for a holiday, strike, etc...
- Medical attention – The least number of personnel necessary to keep an inactive facility for radioactive poisoning.
- Film crew – The least number of essential workers required on a very low-budget production to shoot some form of media.
- Television and radio stations – Most broadcasting authorities require a minimum of two employees to maintain a television and radio station, usually an engineer to handle on-air operations and transmitter maintenance, and a manager or office worker to maintain station records and correspondence. For stations on automation or which are translator stations, this allows the station to claim to meet local presence requirements in its city of license even if all programming is originating elsewhere.