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Amphibious Lift’s Future Shape

January 30, 2010

Even the staunchest proponents of Marine Amphibious Warfare must know drastic change is required to spare America some form of ferrying troops by the sea. Relief actions off Haiti once again reminds us of the importance of this unique capability in times of emergencies, and not just for war.

The problem is, the ships the Navy has traditionally geared to perform specialized beach landings have been in the headlines a lot lately, and not in a good way. Despite all the fanfare received last year with the commissioning of the latest LPD-17 Amphib the USS New York, made of World’s Trade Center steel, there is no getting around the fact this is a terribly flawed class of warship.

The usual conclusion is problems with the shipyards, but since technical faults have become so widespread in all classes, from submarines to aircraft carriers, ongoing for decades, we can only conclude the problem is with the ships themselves. Specifically concerning the LPD-17 San Antonio class, here is a vessel with so many add-ons, (they are building 9 ships to replace 41!) with missiles, reinforced bulkheads, enhanced aviation abilities for the V-22 Osprey tiltroter, it is almost forgotten her primary purpose is to ferry the troops.

Then we hear of amphibious warfare being increasingly minimized in future Navy plans, though we think this a mistake. So does Marine Commandant Conway who sounds increasingly frustrated at the Admiral’s proposals to makes savings by gutting the Gator Navy.

A Light Armored Command and Control Vehicle is unloaded from the experimental High Speed Vessel “Joint Venture” (HSV-X1).

In the midst of all the gloom and doom associated with Marine lift, there is this little exert from an article by Kaija Wilkinson at Al.com:

The U.S. Navy on Thursday awarded Mobile’s Austal USA shipyard $204.2 million, the second installment on what the shipyard hopes will be a 10-vessel, $1.6 billion contract. The new work on two Joint High Speed Vessels will create hundreds of new jobs by this summer, according to Austal.

The Joint High Speed Vessel, an Army-Navy program, includes up to 10 shallow-draft ferries for carrying troops and equipment – including vehicles and a helicopter — at speeds of up to 43 knots within areas of combat. Austal is the prime contractor, and has the first vessel under construction in Mobile.

If you’ll notice, for the cost $1.6 billion, the price of a single flawed San Antonio, we have just ordered 10 JHSV’s, based on proven high speed vessels currently operating with the US Army and Navy such as the HSV Swift, and the Spearhead. Each vessel is able to carry a Stryker company, or a company of Marines and their equipment. Unlike the LPD-17, it is able to go directly up to a beach or port and offload its deadly cargo, being a shallow water vessel.

Avoiding placing all your valuable “eggs” in a single vulnerable platform is an added incentive. As we wrote in an earlier postWe can think of squadrons instead of expeditionary strike groups. These would be more survivable since more numbers mean fewer targets. They would be less crew intensive. They are littoral ready and off the shelf. We need these, our troops needs these, the Marines deserve these to let them show what they can really do from the sea!”

35 Comments leave one →
  1. CBD permalink
    February 2, 2010 10:46 pm

    Scott,
    “Permissive environment” in the linked slide means that the JHSV is expected to operate in the same environment as other MPF and CLF/MSC craft. This includes all of the other Sea Basing craft…so yes, it assumes local dominance and a decently controlled environment. It is not a fighter, but rather a logistics vessel.

    The JHSV is not (as specified) an assault ship (present in the first wave of landings), but it is meant (according to USMC landing doctrine) to be an element of the follow-on landing force of ships, which are expected to be at the landing zone within 5 days of the first landings. The ships meant to be present at the moment of the landing (LHA/LHD/LPD/LSD) are amphibious assault vessels (however limited the assault capability).

    The amphibious transport ships are those of the MPF(F) and other support vessels responsible for the delivery of the majority of materiel associated with the landing of an MEB/MEF: LMSRs, T-AKRs, T-LHA/D, and MLPs, as well as legacy LKAs, LSTs, T-AVBs, T-AKRs. These vessels (excepting the LST) are not designed to survive without protection (an attached DESRON) in a high threat environment…the same thus applies to the JHSV. These vessels have no inherent defense against submarines, enemy surface vessels, aircraft or cruise missiles…they’re specifically not combat vessels.

    The amphibious assault ships, by contrast, have basic CIWS and self-defense weapons. The amphibious transporters do not, although most are equipped to accept a CIWS system in case of war (given, presumably, the extended period of preparation time required to assemble several dozen extra CIWSes and their associated radars).

    The JHSVs, like these ships, are meant to either deliver to a captured port or to deliver to various afloat platforms that will transfer the material to landing craft of the assault force (and the LKAs) or to the LSTs, for delivery over a captured beach. A modified JHSV with the LST-styled ramp at the bow would allow these craft to be not only a rapid connector from forward base to sea base, but also a connector from sea base to many unimproved shores.

    There is a ppt readily found here that lays out the official plans (and includes the slide you linked to). A more detailed report on the MPF and specifically the JHSV, can be found in this RAND report. I’ve based my understanding and opinions on these documents and other publicly available information.

    Smitty,
    Some more recent/detailed (although less visually informing) information:
    B107-1 USMC Class materials “CHARACTERISTICS OF AMPHIBIOUS SHIPS, AND LANDING CRAFT”
    MEF Planner’s Guide, Part 2: Equipment Capabilities
    Comparisons of Relative Well Deck Sizes (no LPD info)
    – MCRP 3-31B “Amphibious Ships and Landing Craft Data Book” (available here, it requires handing over some information and an email…though I just unsubscribed after downloading)
    PMS 377 Briefing, Slide 35 (LCAC capacities and Well Deck entrance dimensions

    Other references:
    MEF Planner’s Guide (lots of interesting data in parts III, IV

  2. Scott B. permalink
    February 2, 2010 6:51 pm

    CBD said : “Now, the JHSV is an amphibious transport (as built). IT can land soldiers/marines in an intermediate threat environment given good cover.”

    Whatever the *good cover* disclaimer might mean, the JHSV is meant to operate in a permissive environment.

  3. B.Smitty permalink
    February 2, 2010 5:49 pm

    Here’s an older (1981) document describing the loading plans for various amphibs.

    http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA106949&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf

    It doesn’t describe common plans for vehicle decks though.

  4. CBD permalink
    February 2, 2010 2:51 pm

    “Where to start. First the LPD-17 can carry 2 LCACs AND 14 EFVs at the same time. The LPD-4 has to give up an LCAC to carry 24 AAVPs (stowed on the well deck).”

    The “and” for the AAVs may, indeed, be wrong.
    According to Norman Polmar’s “The Naval Institute guide to the ships and aircraft of the U.S. fleet,” a standard load of landing craft on the LPD-4 includes the following:
    Well Deck: 1 LCAC or 1 LCU + 3 LCM(6) or 28 AAVP7s
    Helicopter Deck: 2 LCM(6) or 4 LCVP/LCPL
    Vehicle Deck: 16 AAVP7s.

    If the EFVs are carried in the vehicle bays then it is at the expense of other vehicles (due to both size and weight constraints) and the number of amphibious tractors is not improved by their presence.

    IIRC, the LPD-4 class well deck (168 x 50 feet/51.2 x 15.2m) was only a few feet short of fitting a second LCAC (81-88 x 44-47 feet) since it was designed more than two decades before the LCAC entered service and the primary transported item was the LCU (135 x 30 feet). The LHA-1 class has the same problem.

    They tried to figure out how to fix it on the LPD-4 class (during a SLEP), to squeeze in a second LCAC, but it didn’t work. The LPD-17 has a just slightly larger well deck, allowing a second LCAC…but little added capacity otherwise. Both carry little in the way of landing craft in comparison to the LSDs.

    “From an aviation standpoint, the Austin and LPD-17 are similar, but the San Antonio has decent-sized hangar.”
    The hangar can still only support part of the air wing…and effectively reduces the air wing on the San Antonios.

    “The Austin only carries 900 Marines in an surge configuration. IIRC, normally, the Austin and LPD-17 carry roughly the same landing force.”
    They may carry the same landing force on most deployments, but the 900+ marine landing force capacity is listed as standard, not surge, on the LPD-4 class for every source I’ve seen.

    “So yes, the San Antonios are meant to fill the same role as the Austins.”
    Yes, but twisted by other priorities. The LPDs (vs LSDs) are meant to offer more air support…but the addition of a hangar and adjustments to facilitate use with the V-22 means that the air assault capacity is slightly decreased in the newer vessels.

    “JHSVs, OTOH, can’t land Marines at all without help (unless you count putting them ashore via CRRCs). They require a friendly port, RRDF and lighterage, or JLOTS causeway or pier. Not exactly something you can guarantee exists in the early stages of an operation, or can set up rapidly.”
    The JHSVs are transporters, not assaulters, as mentioned previously.

    A bow ramp as on the Newport-class LSTs (perhaps with the extensions carried on that craft) would facilitate landing directly onto beaches in follow-on landings. The design requirements are specifically unfavorable to the landing of marines via the JHSV…not because it’s impossible, but because it’s not desired. The specific model selected is even less likely to be capable of a (non-assault) landing.

    “An MEU won’t be tasked with opening any doors. That’s a job for at least a MEB, if not a full MEF.”
    Which, by the time it’s assembled, is readily targeted. The likely future scenario for the Marines as an assault force on beaches is analogous to that of Rangers and airports…light forces making quick raids to secure landing zones for follow-on forces.

    They’re better served by fast landing craft (like the RCB/CB90 or Jurmo M12), which can land decent numbers of raiders while providing some fire support, and simultaneous helicopter assaults. Between the two, a beachhead and critical installations within reach should be secured to allow high volume landing…modern PGMs mean that fortifications against such a landing will be readily targeted, with the main threat being truck-launched AShMs and dispersed enemy forces.

    Another issue is that we lack the ability to reasonably generate a landing force for an entire MEF with the current fleet. The notional lift capability of 2.5 MEB is not currently being met.

    “LCACs and LCMs aren’t meant for the first wave of an assault. That’s what the EFV is supposed to do. Yes they are larger and less well protected than their land-based counterparts, but history has shown the value of the armored and armed amphibious tractor if there is any local opposition.”

    The EFV is no better prepared to lead a first wave assault than an LCAC.

    They’re currently breaking down more than once every 4.5 hours (reported recently). The operational guidelines for LCACs (which operate at similar speeds) in OTH landings call for landing operations 16 hours per day per LCAC (allowing for a 4-6% per day loss of functional landing units). That’s for a craft known for being very finicky and technically complicated…but less complicated than the EFV.

    The point of an amphibious assault tractor (AAVP7 or EFV) is to provide armored forces immediately on the beachhead simultaneous the landing of LCUs/LCMs/LCACs followed by function as an IFV inland in the first phases of combat. If the IFV can’t last both the assault and the push out of the beachhead pocket without failing it’s useless. And if it’s under-armored for the push and dangerously unprepared for IEDs or heavy mines, which any asymmetric force is sure to employ against US armed forces in the future it’s also simply dangerous.

    Given that profile, landing 2-3 platoons of IFVs, several platoons of scout infantry with the IFVs and a landing company on a beach (as a first wave) will probably be a better bet (for a 2 LCAC-carrying ship) than using the same space to land 3 platoons of EFVs and the 2 companies of soldiers that come with them…since landing more infantry would mean a return trip for the EFVs or the loan of scarce landing resources from another ship.

    “I don’t get your comparison between an LCM and EFV. They have completely different roles.”
    LCMs and LCUs would bring IFVs and infantry ashore.
    EFVs are supposed to be self-deploying IFVs that also land infantry.

    If the EFVs don’t work well as IFVs and take up the space of other landing craft that can land more men, they’re not worth it. Why? See below.

    “The choice between carrying an LCAC or EFVs depends on whether you expect local opposition. You can surge forces ashore faster with EFVs (all 14 EFVs from an LPD-17 in one sortie vs maybe 3 Stryker-equivalents or 2 Bradleys on an LCAC). But the LCAC can deliver more sustained tonnage over time.”

    True…but given that the marines are supposed to be ready to land for a variety of purposes based on the equipment loaded on board several weeks or months beforehand, the distinction must be made.

    “The EFV program may not survive, given its technical and budgetary problems, but if we want any kind of Marine forceable entry capability, we need to have something like it.”
    We don’t really have a forcible entry capability now. The LPD-17 class (as its LX concept) was meant to be 27 ships to operate with 17 LSDs and 15 LHAs/LHDs to provide sufficient landing vessels for large-scale, forced entry operations (1 MEF + 1 MEB). We have nowhere near those numbers.

    The LX class of 27 vessels would replace 41 older, varied amphibious vessels: 11 LPDs, 5 LSDs, 20 LSTs and 5 LKAs. The 12 planned LPD-17s became 10 and may end at 8 or 9 if Avondale can’t sufficiently explain its failure to perform.

    We lost our forcible entry capability with the fleet of other ships that were not replaced to make way for the San Antonio class.

  5. B.Smitty permalink
    February 2, 2010 9:04 am

    CBD,

    Where to start. First the LPD-17 can carry 2 LCACs AND 14 EFVs at the same time. The LPD-4 has to give up an LCAC to carry 24 AAVs (stowed on the well deck). From an aviation standpoint, the Austin and LPD-17 are similar, but the San Antonio has decent-sized hangar. The Austin only carries 900 Marines in an surge configuration. IIRC, normally, the Austin and LPD-17 carry roughly the same landing force.

    So yes, the San Antonios are meant to fill the same role as the Austins.

    JHSVs, OTOH, can’t land Marines at all without help (unless you count putting them ashore via CRRCs). They require a friendly port, RRDF and lighterage, or JLOTS causeway or pier. Not exactly something you can guarantee exists in the early stages of an operation, or can set up rapidly.

    An MEU won’t be tasked with opening any doors. That’s a job for at least a MEB, if not a full MEF.

    LCACs and LCMs aren’t meant for the first wave of an assault. That’s what the EFV is supposed to do. Yes they are larger and less well protected than their land-based counterparts, but history has shown the value of the armored and armed amphibious tractor if there is any local opposition.

    I don’t get your comparison between an LCM and EFV. They have completely different roles.

    The choice between carrying an LCAC or EFVs depends on whether you expect local opposition. You can surge forces ashore faster with EFVs (all 14 EFVs from an LPD-17 in one sortie vs maybe 3 Stryker-equivalents or 2 Bradleys on an LCAC). But the LCAC can deliver more sustained tonnage over time.

    The EFV program may not survive, given its technical and budgetary problems, but if we want any kind of Marine forceable entry capability, we need to have something like it.

  6. CBD permalink
    February 1, 2010 8:45 pm

    Smitty,
    I wouldn’t intend for them to be stationed on the JHSV anymore than they would be on any other transport and landing craft…but the LPD-17 isn’t an amphibious assault platform. Look at what the older LSDs, LPDs and AKAs could carry by comparison…

    Whidbey Island class LSD: 4 LCACs/21 LCM6, 4 CH46s (no hangar) and 402 marines (surge to 504), plus equipment.
    Harper’s Ferry class LSD: 2 LCACs/4 LCM8/6 LCM6, 4 CH46s (no hangar) 402 marines (surge to 504), plus equipment.

    Charleston class LKA: 4 LCM-8, 4 LCM-6, 2 LCVP and 2 LCP with 225 marines and their equipment.

    Austin class LPD: 1 LCAC/4 LCM8/9 LCM6 and 24 AAV plus up to 6 CH-46s and 900 marines.

    San Antonio class LPD: 2 LCAC/(1 LCU and 14 EFVs) plus up to 4 CH-46s and 699 marines (SURGE up to 800).

    The LPD-17 series is not meant to support an amphibious assault in the same manner as the Austin-class. If we were building for amphibious assault, we’d build more LKA/AKAs, LSDs and Austin-styled LPDs.

    It is, by comparison with its peers, primarily amphibious transport.

    —–

    Now, the JHSV is an amphibious transport (as built). IT can land soldiers/marines in an intermediate threat environment given good cover…our current amphibious assault doctrine would pretty much require that for any landing-craft based assault anyways, so why not work towards landing more personnel?

    JHSV is not an amphibious assault vessel…but we really don’t have many of those anymore in the rest of the fleet, so why does it matter?

    The point of the ESG is to allow for a light, rapid response force (an MEU) to assault (primarily by air) for limited strikes. It can’t land a real invasion force and we won’t likely get 2 LHDs/LHAs and 4 LPDs/LSDs to one landing zone without a significant preparation (which means that it’s not exactly going to be a lighting strike). The real trick is rapidly bringing in more marines and their equipment after the MEU has opened the door…the JHSV could do that.

    That’s why they want Sea Basing: it lets them use ESGs to open the door and then re-use the (limited) landing assets to bring in more men and machines without bringing in more specialized ships. MPF ships and HSVs could thus bring in the equipment and men, respectively, once the few available ‘assault’ ships have landed their men and equipment. Fewer assault vessels (and navy crew) to transport more.

    If this was really an issue of a massive, forced assault, then we’d have built the high-capacity LCACs that were being worked on several years back (or at least upgraded LCACs) as well as deploying marines with the other types of landing craft that can land their mechanized equipment even under fire.

    In comparison to an LCM, the EFVs are not much use, given how much space they take, their technical complication and their poor capability to deal with land-based threats. They weigh over third again as much as a Bradley, AAVP7, CV9035MkIII or LAV-25…and they’re a large target. Yes, it’s fast, but there are a lot of points of failure. It’d be better to spend the space and weight on an LCAC that can land an entire mechanized platoon with infantry support and go back for more than 2 platoons of EFVs that can either land infantry or fight inland as IFVs but not do both.

  7. B.Smitty permalink
    February 1, 2010 1:59 pm

    x.

    I believe Mike is referring to the difference between amphibious lift operations vs amphibious assaults. We haven’t performed a large-scale, opposed amphibious assault in a long time; however, we have performed numerous operations where the specific capabilities of the amphibious assault fleet were used.

  8. February 1, 2010 12:36 pm

    “Thank you for clarifying this and please tell the Navy since this is all they have been doing for almost 70 years! No more gold-plated LDP-17 troops tansports, but many smaller ones for the Marines to get back to sea.”

    I am going to withdraw from the field. Obviously one of us has no understanding of amphibious warfare.

  9. February 1, 2010 12:34 pm

    “Vomit comets, maybe, but are the HSV-2 and JHSV/Westpac styled catamarans more or less vomit comets than LSTs, LCUs and LCMs?”

    Mike is proposing scrapping LPD, LHA etc. The craft you list (and yes they are vomit inducing too!) are for short sea transfers. I may give you LST as being used for something longer but only just………..

    All this talk about how much percentage of time something is used for. Most military equipment is designed for a use that is exceptional. If this logic was applied wholesale we would have no jet fighters, no missiles on ships, etc. etc.

  10. Mike Burleson permalink*
    February 1, 2010 12:32 pm

    “Transporting troops isn’t amphibious warfare!”

    Thank you for clarifying this and please tell the Navy since this is all they have been doing for almost 70 years! No more gold-plated LDP-17 troops tansports, but many smaller ones for the Marines to get back to sea.

  11. February 1, 2010 12:26 pm

    “I don’t think that is my job, but apparently the Navy has:”

    Transporting troops isn’t amphibious warfare!

  12. B.Smitty permalink
    February 1, 2010 12:16 pm

    Thanks Mike!

    How is high speed helpful here? If the Marines just sit back at their base they aren’t on station, and thus have no presence. And isn’t that what we want more of, not less?

    Even at 30-40kts, it still takes a lot longer to move Marines from a forward land base (which may still be thousands of miles away) than it does from an ARG on station near the area of interest.

  13. Mike Burleson permalink*
    February 1, 2010 12:09 pm

    Fixed it Smitty! And I agree, which is the whole point of their high speed.

  14. B.Smitty permalink
    February 1, 2010 10:54 am

    Sure wish these blog threads allowed edits. My last should’ve read,

    “We aren’t asking Marines to deploy for months…” not “month”.

  15. B.Smitty permalink
    February 1, 2010 10:52 am

    CBD said, “Vomit comets, maybe, but are the HSV-2 and JHSV/Westpac styled catamarans more or less vomit comets than LSTs, LCUs and LCMs?

    We aren’t asking Marines to deploy for months as part of an ARG/ESG and stay on station in LSTs, LCUs and LCMss. We are asking them to do so in LPDs, LSDs and LHA/Ds.

    JHSV is envisioned as a point-to-point transport, not something Marines live in offshore for long periods of time.

  16. CBD permalink
    February 1, 2010 10:16 am

    Oops, pressed ‘submit’ too early.

    Distiller, to continue…the idea of an existing technology being rapidly adaptable and implementable is too much for some. I mean, if we didn’t invent it here, it’s not worth using, right? And you don’t want to risk reusing one hull for multiple roles (as was so successfully done in WWII), it might introduce economies of scale and the idea of true COTS applications. And that would be bad for the M-I-C complex. No, wouldn’t want that. ;)

    Mike & x,
    Vomit comets, maybe, but are the HSV-2 and JHSV/Westpac styled catamarans more or less vomit comets than LSTs, LCUs and LCMs?

    Yes, the old landing craft had some decently strict limitations on their operation…but the other 75% of the time they were useful in landing on opposed shores and bringing lots of men and materiel to the front in short order. The other option may be 100% of the time but work only 30% as well…or may be unavailable for 30% of the time due to mechanical difficulties with the complex systems involved.

    So you have 75% operability at a 99% readiness rate for 95% utility (something like the WWII-era landing craft) or 100% operability at a 70% readiness rate and 30% utility…I’ll take the former.

    Yes, being in rough seas on a smaller vessel means a rougher experience and reduced combat readiness of the sailors/marines…but they’ll get there. Exchanging that for a larger vessel that can’t do the duty or needs other, less reliable intermediaries (EFV) doesn’t save anyone anything.

  17. CBD permalink
    February 1, 2010 9:44 am

    Distiller,
    Excellent question with the JHSV vs the LCS. Such a good question that PEO ships has a separate page for the frequent idea, which does nothing to answer the question.

    No reason not to generate armed JHSVs with bolt-on systems…except that it can’t be a competitor to the LCS.

    Some significant structural re-work/reinforcement would be required, but that should be done if it is to ever enter a combat zone. Is it worth it to reduce carried capacity and some speed to add reinforcement and armoring?

    We’d also need to add a mast for sensors, and thus costs…but it depends on what you want out of the ship.

  18. Mike Burleson permalink*
    February 1, 2010 6:47 am

    “have you thought out a strategy yourself?”

    I don’t think that is my job, but apparently the Navy has:

    “The JHSV program is procuring high-speed transport vessels for the Army and the Navy. These vessels will be used for fast intra-theater transportation of troops, military vehicles and equipment. The JHSV program merges the previous Army Theater Support Vessel (TSV) and the Navy High Speed Connector (HSC), taking advantage of the inherent commonality between the two programs.

    JHSV will be capable of transporting 600 short tons 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots. The ships will be capable of operating in shallow-draft ports and waterways, interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, and on/off-loading a combat-loaded Abrams Main Battle Tank (M1A2). Other joint requirements include an aviation flight deck to support day and night air vehicle launch and recovery operations.”

    “Vomit comets”? I haven’t heard that but I understand the old LSTs were much the same. Goes to show how hard it is to create a really good blue water/shallow water combo.

  19. Distiller permalink
    February 1, 2010 4:50 am

    I think this really goes back to the question of long-range/low-speed vs short-range/high-speed waterborne assault. The thing in your picture above trades strategic mobility for operational mobility. It could be used as a raiding craft, holding large portions of an enemy coast under risk, but it can’t replace an LHA/D.

    Question one: Where does the JHSV fit in the force continuum (talking like nutnfancy here …), especially looking at T-Craft?

    Question two: Why does one need LCS if he has JHSV? Why not fold the two in one, with an armed JHSV version?

  20. January 31, 2010 5:12 pm

    This reminds. Didn’t somebody here have a picture of beached catamaran?

  21. January 31, 2010 5:02 pm

    “They aren’t called “vomit comets” for nothing.”

    Joint Venture’s new owners, the Isle of Man Steam Packet, only run her for the summer season. Too delicate and yes too vomit inducing for the Irish Sea in winter.

  22. B.Smitty permalink
    January 31, 2010 2:56 pm

    Oops, pushed submit before I was done typing.

    I meant to say, “Is that really more flexible?”

  23. B.Smitty permalink
    January 31, 2010 2:54 pm

    Plus, how do they bring their payload ashore. They tied to ports and JLOTS systems. Is that really

    How do Marines stay on station in these vessels? They will get awful tired of sleeping in airline seats. And what happens when the weather gets rough? They aren’t called “vomit comets” for nothing.

  24. January 31, 2010 2:35 pm

    You need to explain how you see these catamarans are to be used. Where will they be based? How many do you think the USMC would need? How do they fit into current amphibious warfare doctrine? Or have you thought out a strategy yourself?

  25. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 31, 2010 7:29 am

    “I would politely suggest you aren’t grasping the fundamentals of amphibious warfare.”

    I’d say it is the Navy with the shrinking fleet, that has lost their way. Here is a back to basics answer. Not the only one perhaps but certainly an alternative, better than we have now which is decline, delays, and cost overruns.

  26. January 31, 2010 6:24 am

    “Here is a class of ship ready to go. It is 1/10 the cost of LPD-17 without the enormous mechanical difficulties. Whatever their faults, they are very good for the sealift function which is ALL THE NAVY DOES in recent generations.”

    You are comparing motorbikes with trucks. These catamarans are more like large slow airplanes than ships.

    Your arguement reminds me of those put forward by RAF/land based airpower supporters who say we don’t need carriers because we have had access to bases over the last 60 year or so. Realities change…

    I know you are well intentioned and well read on naval warfare. But I would politely suggest you aren’t grasping the fundementals of amphibious warfare.

  27. Mike Burleson permalink*
    January 31, 2010 6:13 am

    Here is a class of ship ready to go. It is 1/10 the cost of LPD-17 without the enormous mechanical difficulties. Whatever their faults, they are very good for the sealift function which is ALL THE NAVY DOES in recent generations.

    The problem with the large LSD’s and LHA’s is their enormous size. This promotes vulnerability, price increases, while reducing numbers. It is a death spiral. But if you complement them with individually less capable warships, you keep numbers and capability. Because large amphibs are so capable, you can do with fewer of them while building your fleet numbers. But if you only build large warships you negate most of your capability because power concentrated is power wasted.

    ScottB says this type of thinking is “ideology”, but it is more of a change in mindset. The small sealift ships are the Strykers at sea, the Marine’s nautical version of the infantry fighting vehicles. This will give the leathernecks room to maneuver in the new sea environment, where there are many threats. Instead of based on a few giant floating “green zones”, where they can only deploy in a few places at once, they will be dispersed among the population of the sea where their unique abilities can be used to greater effect.

    Instead of a shrinking, less capable fleet, you have quantity, which will promote survivability and enhance the fighting power of the US Fleet. Instead of decline there is growth.

    We should no longer view the giant vessels as warships, but instead motherships. Instead of the arm of decision, these are the Sea Bases, the core of the fleet BUT NOT THE WHOLE FLEET. You make better use of them if they are dispersed, and accompanied by many small patrol vessels, corvettes, d/e subs, and JHSVs. If you look on the latter not as less capable but a vital network in the overall US Navy, tied to these more capable motherships, then you might appreciate their qualities.

  28. CBD permalink
    January 30, 2010 8:39 pm

    GLof,
    A bit off there…Avondale built the LSD-49s and half of the previous (LSD-41 class)…which certainly aided the political influences in getting the LPD-17 class built there. The LPD-17s were designed to include some of the signal-control measures seen in the other USN vessels, but tried some new things that didn’t work well and did some older things poorly.

    LHAs and LHDs are already deployed and at max capacity, so can’t pick up any slack from the LPDs (standard ESG/ARG being 1 LHA/LHD and 2 LSD/LPDs).

    The latest LHA, America, doesn’t have a well deck and so can’t offload like the others…and while the later LHAs/LHDs probably will go back to the well decks that the earlier ships have, that still doesn’t give the amphibious group the necessary capacity to cover the failure of the LPD-17 class.

    More generally,
    There’s nothing wrong with some more old-style LSDs with minor improvements.
    Some new AKAs to facilitate landing with traditional landing craft (LCUs & LCMs) would do nicely for more logistically-oriented operations (like Haiti). Not as sexy as the LPD-17s with LCACs and EFVs but they’ll work a larger percentage of the time and can move more mixed cargo (and more men/materiel for follow-on landings).

  29. G Lof permalink
    January 30, 2010 4:39 pm

    It seem we forgotten we have a second assault ship design already in product, the America class. They can take up some of the lift problems cause by the LPD17 problems. And there is also the LSD-49 that can be update and stretched to handle the heavier cargos the America can’t.

    As for other shipbuilding problem, don’t ignore the effect of politics had in creating them. Avondale was chosen a lead yard for the LPD-17 for politic reasons, even though that yard had not produces warships since the Knox class. Politics also effect submarine build by causing the Virginia class to be built in two yard, and then welded together. And let not forget that the Burke class is being restart not because of the supposed lower cost, becuase who chairs the Sea Power committee in the House of Representives.

  30. January 30, 2010 4:04 pm

    “for $600 Million each,I am sure BAE Systems would be happy to build as many Albion class ships as the United States Navy could want.”

    Well $750million once the aviation facilities (already designed but cut out to save money) and a bigger engine fit (to obtain 20kts/500 miles-per-day cruising speed the USMC quite rightly thinks it needs.)

    The San Antonia is a poorly implemented answer to a valid requirement.

  31. B.Smitty permalink
    January 30, 2010 3:48 pm

    I would shoot for an Enforcer variant, since they are closer in concept to the LPD-17, just smaller.

  32. January 30, 2010 3:15 pm

    Hello,

    for $600 Million each,I am sure BAE Systems would be happy to build as many Albion class ships as the United States Navy could want.

    tangosix.

  33. leesea permalink
    January 30, 2010 2:57 pm

    Mike sure the JHSVs are apparently going to be good TACTICAL sealift assets. But you cannot ignore the strategic lift capability nor do they support any kind of forcible entry or even defeneded port access. Amphib ops take a mixture of many platforms to be successful. Pinning our hope on one class is NOT the answer. Simply providing for sea manuever is NOT the answer. You have to solve the whole equation starting by asking oneself – From What To Where. The cargo you talk about being moved by JHSVs doesn’t simply appear on the horizon it has to be brought there by amphibious ships AND sealift ships.

    The LPD17 program needs to be truncated. The Marines need to dial back all their rqmts that lead to exquisite ships. The best solution is to use an existing amphib ship design something along the lines of an Absalon class FSS or an Endurance LPD/LST. Tell the Marines they can have more of those two (with less specialized capabilites) or NONE of the LPD17/LSD(X).

    An oh BTW, we need to beef up strategic sealift and sustainment of all our forces by restarting the RSLS process. Once again NOT something tailored for one service like Army HSLSS but for all services.

    Once againg it takes a specturm of ship types NOT one of the other.

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