Marines in the News
A couple of Marine related stories, the first being from Inside the Navy (subscr. only), which details a new operating concept being revealed by the Corps today titled “The Marine Corps Operating Concepts: Assuring Littoral Access . . . Winning Small Wars”. They seem to be on the right track, as New Wars has contended, to get them away from their “second land army” status and back to the sea. Here is an intriguing idea:
Amphibious vessels are not the only floating assets the Marines could make use of in the future, the MOC notes.
“By embarking Marines aboard a wider variety of naval vessels, we can expand the capability and capacity to conduct discrete, sea-based engagement with a greater number of partner nations,” the document states. “Doing so will have the additional advantage of increasing the flexibility and utility of these vessels for the range of military operations.”
Marines could deploy on anything from large Navy surface combatants to Coast Guard cutters, according to the MOC.
Smart thinking. I see limiting the Marines to a handful of giant base ships which are too big and expensive for modern war as placing an unreasonable burden and inhibiting the Corps natural flexibility. I have likened them to “giant floating green zones” which seems to fit well for a second land army, but not the elite raider mentality of the sea soldiers.
Speaking of amphibious ships, here from Andy Nativi at the Ares blog are details on how the Italians are expanding their Gator Navy with some cost-effective and effective proposals:
The Italian navy has received the go-ahead to procure two 20,000-ton amphibious assault ships (LHDs), with the possibility of a third ship, configured with extensive aviation facilities (LHA).
The preliminary LHD project is funded and will take 12 months for completion. It will be followed by a project definition phase requiring eight months and leading to a contract. Delivery of the first ship comes within 30 months after that. If everything goes to plan, the first LHD arrives in late 2014.
LHDs will replace two 8,000-ton San Giorgio-class LPDs, commissioned in 1987 and 1988. The LHA will eventually replace the carrier Garibaldi, which is being dedicated to amphibious and helicopter roles now that the Cavour carrier is in service.
Here are some preliminary features:
- 190 meters (623 ft.) long
- A well dock holding four LCACs (landing craft air cushions)
- A hangar able to hold 6 medium-heavy helicopters
- 6 landing spots on deck and 2 elevators
- Total helo capacity will vary from 12-15
- Ships crew is 200 plus up to 760 troops
- Garage capacity of 360 tons.
- top speed of 20 kt.
- Range of 7000 miles at 16 kt.
- Propulsion is combined diesel and diesel scheme
- 1,000 sq. meters of hospital space able to treat 54 patients
The cost each is, get this, $369 million USD, or about 10% of the USN latest amphib, the LHA-6 class America. In other words, you can deploy 8-9 Italian type 20,000 ton vessels for the cost of a single LHA-6. Any wonder the Navy continues to shrink?
Concerning the future of the America class, and USN amphibs in general, here is Michael Colombaro at Combat Fleet of the World:
Personally, I think that the better solution was to stop the LHA 6 America class and buy slightly smaller but cheaper ships : ideally, finish the LHA 6 America (because this ship is “now too in advanced building process and too expensive to cancel”), but stop immediately work on next LHA 7/8 ships and begin to study newer LHX alternative’s for a 1st ship commissioned by 2020/2022:
– A radically newer 33 000/48 000 tons, 240/250 meters monohull design (a catamaran or trimaran hull design, although more efficient, unfortunately probably reach a ASTRONOMICAL cost).
– Likely with a full clearer flight deck and a smaller/compact/stealthier island than on board the Wasp/America class.
– With a radically less expensive crew onboard (currently on Wasp’s, +/- 1100 sailors + 1800 troops on board), maybe around only 380/500 sailors + 1500/1800 troops onboard).
– Maybe with 2 conventional shaft but probably more likely 2 or 4 pods.
– With well decks (for amphibious use and avoid the LHA 6 class error of omitted the well decks).
– With fewer (and more costly) VSTOL aircraft, helico & UAV on board.
As I pointed out, if we buy smaller European types, we could ensure that the Marine fleet will not always be targets when the Navy is looking for savings, much like our mine fleet often is, except we still both these type of ships badly. And though they may be less capable they are far from incapable. A ship at sea is far more useful than a fantasy fleet on paper.
Summing up, Michael earlier pointed to the admirals main problem, and how it can be fixed:
The US Navy needs to reconsider its plans and buy:
– More modern
design warships “Flattops”