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The Future of Amphibious Lift Pt 2

November 10, 2009
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Coast Guard Marine Safety and Security Team Boston and New York City Police Department marine and air units escort the amphibious transport dock ship Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) New York (LPD 21) into New York Harbor.

Today we note the commissioning of the US Navy’s latest and most famous member of the LPD-17 class amphibious ship, the USS New York. Most of the public who are appropriately celebrating a vessel made with World’s Trade Center steel have little inkling of the troubled history of this entire class, which we touched on yesterday. The endless delays, the mechanical difficulties, doubling in cost, and the questions of its survivability in a new century are forgotten in the midst of the media spotlight.

Instead of sending in Blue Water ships which are ever fewer in number and extremely visible to modern missiles and aerial threats, we think there is a better way. New hull forms, some even currently in use by civilian shipping companies, the Army, and Navy offer alternatives to sending billion-dollar wonders into harms-way with their many hundreds of crewmen.

Warships, Off the Shelf

Where I see amphibious lift going in the near future is toward high speed vessels. This must happen if the concept is to survive the new century, where missile threats abound and the cost of last century “Gator’s” which are constantly packed with armor and weapons until their are priced out of range. As proved by exorbitant prices, their increase size and cost, such giant amphibious are too costly to risk in a full scale war, and too exquisite for the low tech warfare they most often perform. As proof of this, we need look only to the new $3 billion future helicopter carrier USS America, estimated pricing at $3 billion each, about twice as much as the recently commissioned USS Makin Island. Yet, unlike her predecessor, the America doesn’t come with the well deck considered essential for amphibious landings, making it more of a mini-carrier.

So we see these high tech giants getting pricier, but less capable. We must do better and can, with off the shelf vessels like this:

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The idea is to combine the speed of the Navy’s hovercraft, with the range and seakeeping of the HSV such as those already deployed as navy auxiliaries. Instead of a massive amphibious mothership, with an expensive crew, protection, and refueling problems, the lander itself would go direct from port to the beach. Though, most of these ferry conversions are unable to beach, they can get to close enough to shore for their cargo to be safely floated in. Back in January, we wrote:

Where then does the HSV fit into this? How about as a fire brigade, the nautical equivalent of the old west horse cavalry, always on standby, prepared to race to any world hotspot in time to save the day. Here is where the fast cats high speed, which some has questioned as irrelevant to littoral warfare, would come into play. The HSVs would bring with them troops armed for bear with Stryker or Abrams armor ( a feat which the C-130 cargo plane is incapable) ready to strike at pirates in their supposed shallow water safe havens. For disaster relief, they would come with numerous supplies to save the needy.

We also mentioned the same concept earlier when discussing the new MV Susitna ferry, the Navy’s Transforming E-Craft:

The MV Susitna catamaran ferry is an interesting concept similar to the Navy’s current fleet of catamaran vessels with one remarkable difference, it has the ability to transform from a deep water transport to a shallow draft vessel, specifically into 3 distinct modes of barge, catamaran and SWATH (small waterplane area twin hull) ship…The Navy sees it as key for its expeditionary/amphibious warfare sea basing plans, hence the official moniker of “E-craft”. This is also where its transforming abilities come to play, allowing it to morph into a shallow-water “Sealifter” quickly from its Blue Water transport mode.

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Rolls Royce has proposed a Intra-Theatre Logistics Vessel, much like the Navy HSVs, which the company describes as the following:

Intra-Theatre Logistics Vessel – A fast steel monohull vessel configured to deliver capability within Operational Theatre. The vessel is designed to operate at an average speed greater than 40 knots and has a long- self-deployment range.

The design uses a monohull commercial ropax hull design with a wave-piercing bow. With a range of 3,000nmiles, 2,500 tonnes of cargo can be transported at 40 knots, almost twice as fast as existing ships of equivalent payload.

The smaller Intra-Theatre Logistic Vessel has a cargo area of 2,310m² and is capable of transporting up to 350 troops over 4,000nm at 40 knots.

Specific military features include a helicopter landing area amidships capable of accommodating an aircraft up to Chinook size.

Check out the link for photos of this interesting concept.

For close-in operations, supporting these larger vessels there is Sweden’s combat boat 90. This amazingly versatile craft defies description, other than being worthy of the US Marines:

More is Less

Since the end of the Cold War, the US Navy shipbuilders has used a set of metrics for its warships, including amphibious vessels which expects “that less is more”. In other words expect to get much more capability and service out of a smaller peacetime fleet. Arguably, since the 1990s, the fleet has been operating at a wartime tempo, since now there are numerous small threats instead of the one Red Navy. Looking at this newest amphibious warship USS New York and her sisterships of the LPD-17 class, it appears that “more is less“, with pricier ships deploying less capability, as well as fewer numbers.

Using smaller, advanced hulls forms as we have mentioned would address two main problems facing the Navy: declining numbers and increasing vulnerability. While a large ship might be seen as being more survivable in modern war, no ship is invulnerable or can deploy in more than a single warzone at once. Lose one ship and here is a tremendous percentage of your capability lost. The smaller, more numerous high speed vessels, constantly in motion, from port to port or port to beach, presenting less a target and available in large numbers will do the job of a few big ships, with less the risk.

43 Comments leave one →
  1. leesea permalink
    November 15, 2009 11:30 am

    Mike go back and check your numbers on lift capcacity and size. I believe its more like two and one-third MEFs some of which are on assault ships and some is on MPS. An ATG is more than a ferry operation while the MPS is transportation mainly.

  2. Mike Burleson permalink*
    November 13, 2009 11:49 am

    Lee we have huge ships and can only ferry less than 2 brigades of Marines at any one time. The tiny first generation amphibs loaded whole divisions worth in multiple theaters. We’ve done it before and we can do it again.

  3. leesea permalink
    November 13, 2009 10:04 am

    Mike, you are missing the sense of scale needed in amphibious operations. Sure raids might be conducted from a smaller ship BUT full blown assault take a large amount of men, materials and aircraft which cannot be crammed down into many small hulls. T-AGOS??? not sealift ships

    Steve the RSN Endurance LST nee LPD are indeed great examples which would add capability and prescence by having more hulls. A mix of Endurance with Dokdo small LHD would be even better. The other part of that equation is that second tier shipyards (with the problems of NGSB and LMCO) could build a short class of such ships easier and quicker. Of course that would mean NAVSEA would have to accept a foreign design (NIH) and build it with major spec changes. You know my opinion of that happening!

    Bill the only metric which I have historically are the LASH and SEABEE barges which had a cargo capacity of 500 and 1000 tons respectively. If the SeaTrain cars nee barges are beachable, that would overcome many issues with above type barges which were strictly for alongside discharge. Sounds like another upcheck for smaller SeaTrain to me? An analysis would have to compare throughput bwt SeaTrain and L-Cat and RN LCM.

  4. Mike Burleson permalink*
    November 13, 2009 4:31 am

    Steve, not bad ideas. The way we build ships today, the USN is struggling to deploy 30 amphibs, and the number will likely be decline. If the ships were more capable, I could see it, but they carry no more troops than older vessels, while pricing double the costs and more.

    There are many good foreign designs out there for amphibious vessels. The type of missions we have used the Marines since WW 2, for peacekeeping of intervention in the Third World, these don’t have to be of the gold-plated variety. If I had the permission of Congress and the Navy’s budget, I would go shopping in Europe and Asia for most everything.

    For a peer conflict, with anti-access weapons involved, we may have to rethink out strategy. Smaller, and more numerous ships might be the answer, swamping the enemy with targets, instead of presenting a handful of giant LPDs on a silver platter, as there are no invincible warships. Bigger isn’t always better, unless you are talking fleet numbers.

  5. Steve Petty permalink
    November 13, 2009 3:25 am

    How about foregoing 1 LPD-17 for 10 Endurance class LST’s(really LPD’s) as used by RSN 6000tons; 350 troops; 18 MBT’s and 20 other vehicles. They carry 4 LCVP’s on davits and 4 LCM’s in the docking well and 2 Puma helicopters. Costing in Singapore $135,000,000 even with the added cost of costruction in the USA you still build 10 for 1 compared to the LPD-17. They would be useful adjuncts to the ASG’s have been used in the Gulf off Somali as support ships. Combine these with the Korean FFX design frigates at a price of 107,000,000 again even with the added cost of US construction you could build 24-25 for the price of 2 DDG-51’s. This would put 35 ships in the pipeline to maintain naval construction capacity and provide lower cost but very capable ships for littorial operation and anti-piracy patrols. An example would be 1 LPD operating 4 Firescouts in place of Puma’s controlling 4 frigates for anti-piracy patrol.

  6. Bill permalink
    November 12, 2009 2:47 pm

    “Off in the future there may well be a place for SES SeaTrain (if the transoceanic BS is dropped out of the rqmts!)”

    Lee, following up on that comment and considering the current oceanic version which uses 250′ ‘cars’ and is payload-limited by the fuel/range requirement…what kind of numbers for payload, range (and speed) and barge (car) size would make sense to you? As I indicated during our recent conversation, we’ve alredy taken a look at smaller variants of the design and slower variants with all diesel power.

    The SES Sea Train is ‘beachable’ when still assembled in a train (so the air cushion is intact) and we even demonstrated that capability during the model tests with the large RC model. The extreme length means that approach gradients need not be too severely steep to still keep enough water under the stern where the propulsion lives and the variable draft due the cushion lift takes care of the rest.. I would estimate the near-shore and dry-beach average gradient that we landed during the model tests was less than 5 degrees. The bow was not ‘dry’ but certainly within reach of dry with a fairly straightforward bow ramp.

  7. Mike Burleson permalink*
    November 12, 2009 1:53 pm

    Lee said “JHSV is meant to be forward deployed aka prepostioned.”

    I’ll agree with that. It doesn’t have a good trans-oceanic range at high speed anyway.

  8. leesea permalink
    November 12, 2009 1:42 pm

    What the Marines fail to do in there amphib lift and landing craft analyses, is distinquish between assault aka combat lifts and administrative lifts. Those terms have been used by Combat Cargo Officers and ship loaders for decades. They are doctrine. The cargo type determines its priority and method of loading. Hence the MPS ships are administrative loads aka dense packed to be discharged onto INLS and LCUs and LCMs.

    I question why exquisite ships and hi-tech/speedy landing craft are needed for BOTH types of loads? Sure the LCAC and its follow-on (another issue all together) may be needed for quick insertions during assaults, BUT LCU and other displacement or planning craft which do the heavy lifting are needed for admin lifts. I think the USMC has got their mix ALL wrong. More landing craft of the later type are needed because that is what is neeed for sustaiment of the beachhead and LOTS type operations. LCACs etc are essentially one shot deals. So buy less of them.

    I am particularly keen on the French CNIM L-cat and the new RN landing craft. Off in the future there may well be a place for SES SeaTrain (if the transoceanic BS is dropped out of the rqmts!)

    NO landing craft needs to transit oceans at high speed, period end of story. BTW the JHSV is meant to be forward deployed aka prepostioned. Something that has worked for the Marines since 1980!

  9. Mike Burleson permalink*
    November 12, 2009 1:40 pm

    Lee, numbers would replace capacity. Its what we did in the world wars. Also, why get rid of fast sealift like the T-AGOs. But seizing the beachhead, our giant ships are asking for it so close to shore.

    Already these 87 ft LCAC hovercraft load Marine cargo from ship to shore. Why not cut out the middleman, give them some extra legs and let it be from port to shore.

    Again the large ferries do this type of job everyday. It is not something radical.

  10. leesea permalink
    November 12, 2009 1:23 pm

    First off there is vast difference between the Austal bow designs and those Incat wave piercing needles. I can imagine that the go-fast cats would have a problem with ANY type of “draft restriction”? LOL

    ScottB you are looking at the wrong photo. In fact I do not think I have seen one of the Kin Red beach. The normal load point is a pier structure, the alternate is a beach with additional ramp built by the Marines (not yet seen). BTW Kin Red is an slang version of Japanese. The Bay word is different from the Beach word.

    Sorry Mike I meant the trimaran LPD aka HALSS concept which is just plain stupid! Why do unknowledgeable folks continue to miss the facts that Marine tactical equipment, POL, ammo and other materials aka CARGO require volume and deck area and deadweight to contain it? ANY ship which cannot exceed its predecessors’ capacity at a reasonable cost is to me dead in the water.

    I will address over the beach vs to the beach in another post

  11. Bill permalink
    November 11, 2009 8:09 pm

    “But then, like Bill said, you sure can beach any vessel… once ;-)”

    Before I get too much undeserved credit for a clever comment not originally my own, I must give proper attribution to where it is due. It is the ONR T-craft program manager to which I must credit that astute observation..as it was reportedly her response to the request by CNR of ONR that a solution be found; to invent a vessel that could transit the oceans and yet also land its payload of troops/equipment ‘feet dry’ on the beach.

  12. Bill permalink
    November 11, 2009 7:32 pm

    “Did they do much damage to the hull?”

    Yes..and no. On the one hand, the damage was extensive but limited to the extent of the hull forward of the massive bow T-foil foundations (said foundations were built in to every vessel built..Incat ‘cleverly’ left it to the operators to find out the ‘hard way’, after some service time, that they really needed the ‘expensive’ foils that belonged there..;-) . the direct connection to my JHSV confusion and observations). The Incat vesssel would have floated, for sure, and it is highly probably that it would have continued back to the yard on its own power for repairs, had it completely made it over Black Jack Rock and back in to the water by sheer momentum.

    Regardless of that, they made a grounding disaster in to a marketing/PR success..the damage was repaired and the vessel delivered in very short order once it was fetched off the rock. The vessel was well beyond ‘high and dry’..it was level and some meters clear of the keel out of the water where it stopped.

  13. Scott B. permalink
    November 11, 2009 6:23 pm

    leesea said : ” The Westpac Express beaches at Kin Red on a regular basis. Most Austal cats can do that gvien the right beach gradient.”

    1) I was going to post one picture of Westpac Express and Kin Red to illustrate why *beaching* at a concrete pier with pilings leading out from it and being able to *close enough to shore for their cargo to be safely floated in* are two different proposals.

    But then I suddenly realized you already knew about that picture, don’t you ?

    2) An LCAC can traverse 70% of the world’s beaches, vs 20% or less for a conventional landing craft like the LCM-8 (with a draft of about 5 feet, fully loaded). It’s pretty obvious that you’ll get even less access with an HSV like Westpac Express (with a draft of about 14 feet, fully loaded).

    But then, like Bill said, you sure can beach any vessel… once ;-)

  14. Mike Burleson permalink*
    November 11, 2009 5:11 pm

    Leesea mentioned “trimaran aircraft carriers”

    Did I ever propose that? Anyway, that is good news about beaching the ferries, also according to Bill sounds like the motion sickness problem might be solved. The old flat-bottomed LST’s were notorious for this, but we used them anyways.

    Mr X, thanks and you’re right!

  15. November 11, 2009 5:08 pm

    “Heck, you can beach any vessel”

    The interweb is an amazing place. Great story. Thanks.

    Did they do much damage to the hull?

  16. Bill permalink
    November 11, 2009 4:02 pm

    “I wonder if any thought has been given to hard metal strakes and stems for the hulls on these vessels to allow them to beached.”

    Heck, you can beach any vessel…once. ;-) One of my field engineers was busy looking at his computer screen when Incat’s boss and chief trials cap’n suddenly ‘beached’ one the Incat WPCs high and dry during builder’s trials. On a rocky island. Sad part of it was..for brief moment they thought they might actually clear the island and re-enter the water on the other side. Alas, their demonstration of fully amphibious catamaran capability fell short, and she remained on that rock for quite some time before gotten off again.

  17. November 11, 2009 2:12 pm

    “Mike Burleson said : “It has been proven combat situations”

    And I am supposed to belive that commercial high speed ferries are *combat proven*.

    Come on………….”

    They were in the Falklands. Well perhaps not high speed ferries…… ;)

    Hi-speed mulit-hull ferries could be compared to planes just as easily as other ships.

    Your troops need to be well rested, well fed, and acclimatized before assaulting.

    Having crossed the Irish Sea in that type of vessel I can tell you all I am ready for is a cup of tea while my stomach settles when I reach the other side. Fighting my way up Douglas prom is definitely out of the question.

    I wonder if any thought has been given to hard metal strakes and stems for the hulls on these vessels to allow them to beached. Then again there might problems with the jet getting fouled.

    Further there would be potential structural problems between the stiff steel and the more malleable aluminium.

  18. Bill permalink
    November 11, 2009 11:25 am

    BTW Lee..glad to meet up with you finally and put a face on the name. Did you become a T-craft enthusiast yet? ;-)

  19. Bill permalink
    November 11, 2009 11:22 am

    “Bill, When I asked the NAVSEA rep about those seemingly “soft power” terms & some questionable configuration decisiions, he said it was due to the rqmts being JOINT not service-unique. Specing over the beach would satisfy the Marines but not the Army, etc, etc etc. Welcome to the wonderful world of joint.”

    I do not, in that response, find an answer. Fundamentally, the JHSV is supposed to carry people, and over fairly long distances in fairly open sea conditions. How does ‘jointness’ excuse the inattention given a known and documented problem with the basic habitability of the specific vessel in question? “We know the design is going to make its passengers very sick in very short order but because the requirements are joint, we decided to ignore that problem’??? Naw…that does not wash. …what am I missing here?

  20. leesea permalink
    November 11, 2009 11:01 am

    Mike you go to quit reading too much into technology demonstration projects such a T-Craft and E-Craft and trimaran aircraft carriers. They are just that demonstrators and NOT alternative forms of real ships.

    You missed the meaning of “lift” in amphib warships’ characterisrics. You all know I am not a supporter of LPD17 partially because it does NOT significantly increase amphib lift capabilities enough to justify its cost.

    JHSV is IMHO the next transformational ship type to go into series production in US. I too just attended the High Performance Vessel Symposium put on by ASNE. We saw presentations on all of the above vessels types except LPD17s.

    ScottB is wrong about HSVs. The Westpac Express beaches at Kin Red on a regular basis. Most Austal cats can do that gvien the right beach gradient.

    Seasickness IS a problem with HSVs. The solution lies in positive application of appropriae medicine. On Newport, I saw the Marine company commnader line up his troops for corpsmen to “administer” seasickness medicine. Maybe the NG was not prepared?

    BW while the JHSV only carries a company the WPE can lift a battalion (-) and 500 tons of tactical equipment. The JHSV does have a robust C4 suite onboard. The JHSV is meant to work cargo at an austere and benign port.

    Bill, When I asked the NAVSEA rep about those seemingly “soft power” terms & some questionable configuration decisiions, he said it was due to the rqmts being JOINT not service-unique. Specing over the beach would satisfy the Marines but not the Army, etc, etc etc. Welcome to the wonderful world of joint.

    Maybe the ship control and weapons/sesnor suites can get upgraded later, but for now the ONLY way to get the 10 ship production run started is to constrain spec changes leading to more ship costs.

    And YES I did suggest a naval version with slightly different vessel characteristics. For now the Navy version is meant to be strictly a tactical sealift ship operated by civilian mariners. BTW the Navy has NOT sourced the military det on its version – a dumb staffing decision.

  21. Bill permalink
    November 11, 2009 10:10 am

    I just returned from an HPMV symposium and am more perplexed than ever about ‘who is minding the sotre’ when it comes to JHSV procurement. Here is why:

    Early in the symposium, the JHSV was presented. MEntioned, barely, was the fact that it has an active ride control system.

    On the second day of the symposium, Hornblower presented a very frank, honest and detailed summary fo their experience with the Hawaii SuperFerry operations.

    What stood out clearly to me was the rather stark differences between JHSV and SuperFerry where motion sickness incidence was (or will be) concerned.

    The Superferry is equipped with a complete ride control suite nearly identical to that on X-craft/Seafighter, with appendages fore and aft for the simultanous control/reduction of pitch/roll aand yaw motions…and yet it was not adequate to prevent incredibly high sicknes rates over fairly short route lengths on many occasions. When the yaw-damping component of the system failed..they were forced to drydock and repair it; it was that important to vessel operation.

    The JHSV, by comparison, will be equipped with a very minimal control suite (some weeny bow fins and transom interceptors) that does not even include the yaw-damping rudder/skeg part of the solution.

    Huh?? How did that JHSV specification/procurement decision get made? Willfull ignorance or simple lack of understanding the platform?

  22. Chuck Hill permalink
    November 10, 2009 2:55 pm

    The well deck may well be a restriction on rate of deployment, perhaps more boats like the CB90 from davits.

  23. B.Smitty permalink
    November 10, 2009 2:22 pm

    Heretic,

    I’m not sure a trimaran LPD really makes sense. LPDs are, by nature, already large vessels with good seakeeping. For them, high speed isn’t terribly beneficial. They won’t want to outrun their escorts, and HSVs are more sensitive to weight increases than a traditional monohulls. Plus, LPDs in US service already carry high-speed assault connectors (LCACs).

    If we were to contemplate a modern LST, then a trimaran might be worth investigating.

  24. navark permalink
    November 10, 2009 1:48 pm

    Heretic wrote “What would a trimaran LPD look like with twin (port and starboard) flight decks and well decks on the outboard hulls? Crew/troop and ship machinery spaces would be primarily in the center hull, while cargo, vehicle and landing storage would be in the outboard hulls.”

    Whilst I share your appreciation of the trimaran hullform, it is in essence a stabilized monohull. Meaning that in order to achieve side hulls large enough for well decks and/or ramps, the overall design would be prohibitively large. Such an order of magnitude increase would render much of the present design information questionable, as well as requiring a totally revised funding strategy.

    The flight deck(s) could be huge, virtually as large as you like, so some type of future CV meets LPD might make sense although I can’t imagine many Navy people would have the fortitude to go down such a route.

    However, making your LPD trimaran large enough to launch/recover boats and USVs vertically (or ramped) *in between* the main and side hulls is a viable option imo. Certainly wouldn’t be any worse than the current LCS methods…

  25. Joe K. permalink
    November 10, 2009 1:01 pm

    Looking at that data sheet, it looks as though Austal didn’t intend for the JHSV to deploy armor to anywhere except a pier.

    Even if they modded the design for truly amphibious landings imagine how much more that would cost for the redesign and the building of a new prototype to test it.

  26. Heretic permalink
    November 10, 2009 12:10 pm

    I personally am rather interested in the promise of the trimaran hull form offered by LCS-2, and wondering what happens to sea keeping capability as the trimaran scales upwards. As already demonstrated, the trimaran form seems to promise unusually good seakeeping characteristics, while also being amenable to high speed performance characteristics.

    Which makes me wonder …

    What would a trimaran LPD look like with twin (port and starboard) flight decks and well decks on the outboard hulls? Crew/troop and ship machinery spaces would be primarily in the center hull, while cargo, vehicle and landing storage would be in the outboard hulls. You’d simply need to make the twin outboard hulls large enough to accomodate a single (or linear dual) LCAC(s) aft in the well decks with the heavy equipment/vehicles forward, which incidentally would put the “heavy” parts closer to the midships where the center forward hull and the outboard hulls would join together, which has center of gravity implications.

    Needless to say, I haven’t got the necessary skills to convert this idea into blueprints, but that’s the *BASIC* outline of the idea (without getting into truly useful specifics).

  27. Scott B. permalink
    November 10, 2009 11:44 am

    Mike Burleson said : “we need to get back to basics”

    One of my excellent friends always says : “Reality ? It’s what’s for dinner !”

    Now take a look at the JSHV datasheet on Austal’s website, under *Accommodations*, *Galley & Messing*.

    Just sayin’…. ;)

  28. B. Walthrop permalink
    November 10, 2009 11:44 am

    Jerry,

    We’re probably not going to get to 33, but we’re going to get close enough that it will be an acceptable risk. The question is that if the final number is 30, do we trade 3 or 6 of that 30 to develop the lower end capability described in this post. The Commandant says no, and I tend to agree with him. The shipbuilding budget will be a zero sum game for the rest of my career lifetime, and I am unconvinced that we can build enough low end capability for the same cost as the relatively lower numbers of high end capability to make this a wise decision.

    “I think the real question now is how realistic is a forcible entry operation scenario. We haven’t done one since WWII, and I have real questions if we will ever do one again.”

    This is a great question, but you need to take the next logical step and ask why or why not we may or may not be required to do a forcible entry. There are several (realistic in my opinion) scenarios that would require forcible entry. Here they are listed in rank order of likelihood from my perspective.

    If we ever muster the national will to take care the Somali pirate situation (or the Niger delta situation), we will eliminate the problem on-land, and an amphibious assault is probably the least risky option.

    If the situation in Iran goes pear shaped, we will be likely be landing Marines IVO the red side of the Straits of Hormuz to maintain access through that chokepoint.

    A less likely scenario (in my mind) would be a dust up with China and the islands that would control their access to petroleum in the IO and West Pacific.

    One of the great ironies (again, in my opinion) is that when VADM Bird (7th Fleet) was quoted as saying that “the purpose of the Navy is not to fight,” he was exactly right. Notice that he didn’t say the Navy was not capable of a fight (which it is). One of the strategic purposes of having the national will to maintain a Navy that is more powerful than the next 13 or 17 or 19 (or whatever the right number is) navies of the world combined is that it makes the cost of entry very high for an adversary should they choose to challenge our dominance. That construct has served us well for a number of decades, but we see now in the Pacific that China is ramping up a non-trivial effort to re-balance the equation. Now it may very well be that we need only to maintain a Navy that is more powerful than the top 3, 4, or 5 of the navies combined, but I don’t know what the right number is and neither does anyone else. I strongly suspect that if graphed, the function would be non-linear, and flirting with the ragged edge of required capability is probably a strategically unsound decision.

    Sorry for the threadjack.

    V/R,

  29. Scott B. permalink
    November 10, 2009 11:36 am

    Mike Burleson said : “It has been proven combat situations”

    And I am supposed to belive that commercial high speed ferries are *combat proven*.

    Come on………….

  30. Scott B. permalink
    November 10, 2009 11:35 am

    Mike Burleson said : “High speed ferries load cargo and passengers from shore to shore constantly.”

    1) Commercial high speed ferries load/unload passengers and cargo from pier to pier, which is not the same as shore to shore.

    2) Commercial high speed ferries carry passengers and cargo over relatively small distances (take a look at the cat designs on the Austal website and you’ll see what I mean), and it makes a huge difference.

  31. Mike Burleson permalink*
    November 10, 2009 11:23 am

    Please note that I changed the photo, as I was dissatisfied with the original, and there was a newer one at the Navy website this morning. You can see why the Media and the public might be starry eyed, but we need less exquisite, and more practical.

  32. Jerry Hendrix permalink
    November 10, 2009 11:10 am

    B Walthrop said, “I’m of the opinion that the 33 Amphib mix with the capability that it bring being advocated by the Marines is probably about the right level of capability on the high end.”
    Unfortunately, we cannot afford that mix of ships, so its back to the drawing board. I think the real question now is how realistic is a forcible entry operation scenario. We haven’t done one since WWII, and I have real questions if we will ever do one again.

  33. B. Walthrop permalink
    November 10, 2009 11:04 am

    Clearly not every ship needs to have a C4I suite for all contingencies, but I’m of the opinion that the 33 Amphib mix with the capability that it bring being advocated by the Marines is probably about the right level of capability on the high end.

    The HSV and other sea-basing platforms can reasonably be designed to a lower capability in that regard as long and the CONOPS have them operating with one of the mis-labeled “exquisite” platforms. These lower end vessels augment the capability of the ARG during MCO, and in a permissive or semi-permissive environment can function with some lower level of capability as stand alone platforms or working as a group.

    One of the things often overlooked by the advocates of shifting to a smaller ship mix is that some believe we need to continue to build large (if not complex) ships in order to retain the already relatively anemic industrial base. For example: Once the T-AKE production run is complete (coming up in just a few years), if something is not in place to feed NASSCO, then what is the incentive for General Dynamics to retain that aspect of their business. Similar problems can be seen farther down the pipeline with BIW once the 3 ship run of the DDG-1000 is complete. I don’t know if this is a good argument for continuing to build large platforms, but the loss of the last new construction shipyard on the West Coast of the United States in the next 5-7 years is not a trivial consideration.

    V/R,

  34. B.Smitty permalink
    November 10, 2009 9:47 am

    B. Walthrop said, “The next question you have to ask yourself is, “Does the JHSV have the C2 to support brigade sized operations (the smallest operations that the Marine Corps currently “likes,” for very good reasons to support)?” I think you’ll find that the answer is no. The LPD-17 class does have this capability, and those C4I systems end up being very large cost drivers in what have been erroneously called exquisite ships. Again, steel and air are the cheapest part of the ship to deliver. It’s all those other messy details associated with reality that are costing a packet.

    Does every ship carrying the brigade need these C4I systems? If not, one option would be to buy a smaller number of command ships and a larger number of basic amphibious hulls.

    Mike said, “For the price of one LPD-17 you can purchase 10 JHSV. It seems with numbers you can make up for the lack of capability. Too much capability in single vessels is killing the amphibious force.

    No amount of JHSVs can provide an “over the beach” capability (or even “to the beach”) by themselves. JHSVs could carry EFV/AAVs closer to shore, but that’s only part of the problem.

    Also, driving light weight aluminum hulled JHSVs close to a defended shore will put them in range of not only AShMs, but virtually every infantry weapon in the enemy’s inventory including RPGs, ATGMs, MGs, artillery, mortars and even rifle fire. Better to stand off over the horizon where detection and targeting is much harder, and let smaller and more numerous assault assets (EFV, LCAC) go the rest of the way.

  35. Mike Burleson permalink*
    November 10, 2009 9:08 am

    For the price of one LPD-17 you can purchase 10 JHSV. It seems with numbers you can make up for the lack of capability. Too much capability in single vessels is killing the amphibious force.

    Cancel the JHSV Scott? High speed ferries load cargo and passengers from shore to shore constantly. Just replace the cars and tourists with armored vehicles and elite naval infantry. This is not a foreign concept, but very workable, and with numbers highly survivable. It has been proven combat situations and they are buying more, one of the few procurment programs which make sense.

    Ships of this size and smaller won the Pacific and Atlantic campaigns in WW 2. Decades of peacetime sailing currently has us sidetracked and we need to get back to basics.

  36. B. Walthrop permalink
    November 10, 2009 8:45 am

    I agree that JHSV like vessels are part of the solution set, and as an intra-theater connector they are reasonably capable with some of the drawbacks that Scott B. mentioned above.

    As a stand alone solution to amphibious lift they suck pretty hard. To see this clearly you need to work through the entire CAESR (Close, Arrival and Assembly, Employ, Sustain, Reconstitute) construct.

    The JHSV program of record really only solves the problem of closure for a company sized complement of troops and limited vehicle transport. It can play a limited role in arrival and assembly, is almost useless in the employment phase, has limited sustainment capability, and can perform the recovery piece of the reconstitution phase. All of this is dependent (currently) on having a port at or near the desired AoR. This will work pretty well in permissive (or maybe a semi-permissive) environment, but it still requires the ground forces to maintain their “iron mountain” for real arrival and assembly on the shore side of the equation.

    From a logistics standpoint, a JHSV can carry something close to a Marine Corps mechanized infantry company worth of Marines and their personal kit, but a single JHSV cannot carry all the vehicles to support that same company. That means the arrival and assembly piece has to happen somewhere, and as currently configured that means ashore. For sustainment, I am going to guess that the same mechanized infantry company needs something on the order of 100,000 to 200,000 gallons of fuel for a 30 day operation and something close to those same numbers for potable water. This is just not doable with a JSHV.

    The next question you have to ask yourself is, “Does the JHSV have the C2 to support brigade sized operations (the smallest operations that the Marine Corps currently “likes,” for very good reasons to support)?” I think you’ll find that the answer is no. The LPD-17 class does have this capability, and those C4I systems end up being very large cost drivers in what have been erroneously called exquisite ships. Again, steel and air are the cheapest part of the ship to deliver. It’s all those other messy details associated with reality that are costing a packet.

    Again, JHSV-like vessels are part of the system wide solution set, but they are not the whole kit and caboodle. Any discussion of ship solutions should begin with a thorough understanding of Marine Corps (and grudgingly Army) doctrine, the C4I that is required to support that doctrine, and the CAESR construct as this describes the hard and dirty realities of conducting any level of effective amphibious operation.

    V/R,

  37. Scott B. permalink
    November 10, 2009 8:30 am

    Mike Burleson said : “So, Scott, what would you propose, other than our vanishing number of last century Exquisite designs?”

    Step #1 would be the immediate cancellation of the entire JHSV program : there’s no need to invest in a glorified fast ferry that costs $185 million a copy.

  38. Mike Burleson permalink*
    November 10, 2009 8:10 am

    So, Scott, what would you propose, other than our vanishing number of last century Exquisite designs?

  39. Scott B. permalink
    November 10, 2009 8:02 am

    leesea said : “This E-Craft is another expensive design exercise built because some congressional type earmarked it IMHO! You did notice it is being built in Alaska that hotbed of advanced naval engineering?”

    The E- in E-Craft stands for Exquisite !!!

  40. Scott B. permalink
    November 10, 2009 7:59 am

    Mike Burleson said : “Though, most of these ferry conversions are unable to beach, they can get to close enough to shore for their cargo to be safely floated in.

    Say what ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

  41. Scott B. permalink
    November 10, 2009 7:56 am

    Mike Burleson said : “The idea is to combine the speed of the Navy’s hovercraft, with the range and seakeeping of the HSV such as those already deployed as navy auxiliaries.”

    And while we are on the subject of seakeeping, here is one excellent post Bill made on this blog back in July 2009 :

    “What Scott said.

    And given the current love affair with the various catamrans in present and future TSV/HSV/JHSV roles, the truth has yet to be fully realized that the current crop has stupendously bad seakeeping behavior in only moderately high seas..at any speed. (Read: Sea states in which they are expected to handle..routinely). In particular pitch motions (and attendant vertical accelerations forward of amidship and bow slamming) can be and often are ‘brutal’ on both vessel and crew.

    McCauley and others are ’studying’ the problem once again and wavepiercing hull advocates are scratching their heads in apparent confusion and dismay (what?..wavepiercers don’t pierce waves? ((Actually they do..quite effectively; fully in to the backside of a wave at the bitter end of a wild resonant pitch cycle…) ) ..but the reality is that a huge body of work exists that clearly defined these human factors issues for HSV types and how it should be applied to HSV design. It was, most of it, work done during the 2K and 3K SES programs. Knowledge certainly does have a finite shelf life in the USN.”

  42. Scott B. permalink
    November 10, 2009 7:52 am

    Mike Burleson said : “The idea is to combine the speed of the Navy’s hovercraft, with the range and seakeeping of the HSV such as those already deployed as navy auxiliaries.”

    At the risk of repeating myself again and again, wanna know about the seakeeping qualities of the HSV ?

    Well, here is one for you :

    1) During African Lion Exercise in April 2005, the unfortunate USMC passengers of HSV-2 (Utah reservists) went through an 18-hour exposure to 3-meter seas at 17 knots.

    2) On this occasion, Motion Sickness affected 90% of these unfortunate USMC passengers. That’s right, 90%, as in 9 out of 10.

    3) Some of the comments made at the time (reported by McCauley, Pierce and Price) :

    “I feel as though I have a severe case of food poisoning”

    “No energy, can’t think”

    4) McCauley & Pierce further noted that crew adaptation to motion sickness is helpful, but not a “solution”, since * about 24% of the adapted crew showed symptoms of motion sickness during this routine Atlantic transit.

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