The LCS received intense scrutiny at its inception and that scrutiny continues to this day. The Zumwalt, by comparison, has received almost none (baffling, huh?). Somewhere in between is the LX(R). Let’s take a couple of posts to look a bit closer at the LX(R). We’ll start with just a quick peak at the LCAC carrying capacity of the LX(R). This is just setting the stage for a few upcoming LX(R) posts and is not intended to be a deep analysis. Read this post as a simple factoid, so to speak, that acts as a lead in to more posts.
The Navy intends to replace the LSD-41/49 class ships with a new LX(R) class. One of the key differences between the old and new ships will be the well deck space and, in particular, the LCAC capacity. Let’s take a closer look.
The LSD-41 Whidbey Island class dock landing ship is an 8 ship class with the ability to carry 4 LCACs or 5 LCACs if the cargo ramp is raised. That’s 32 or 40 LCACs, total.
The LSD-49 Harpers Ferry class dock landing ship is a 4 ship class with the ability to carry 2 LCACs. That’s 8 LCACs, total.
In total, the LSD-41/49 class has a capacity for 40-48 LCACs.
The Navy is planning to replace the 12 LSDs with 11 LX(R)s. Each LX(R) will carry 2 LCACs for a total of 22.
So, the amphibious fleet will go from 40-48 LCAC capacity to 22. That’s quite a drop for an amphibious fleet that is already sorely lacking sufficient ship to shore connectors. Does that signal that the Navy/Marines are getting out of the amphibious assault business altogether, or that the Marines are betting on shifting from amphibious assault to vertical assault, or that they’re just idiots? I have no idea what the official line of thinking on this one is. For the moment, ponder this and we’ll take a closer look in a bit.
|LSD-41 Class - 4 LCACs|
|LX(R) Class - 2 LCACs|
Sneak peak: There is actually another, more likely, explanation (although don’t discount the idiocy explanation!) which we’ll cover shortly.