Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Definition of Insanity?

Over the years, we’ve seen that the Navy’s ability to estimate costs is laughable, at best.  Given that history, you’d think the Navy would have learned to bump up their estimates.  That makes the latest procurement program, the LX(R) replacement for the LSD-41/49 class another sad affair in the making.

The LX(R) is going to be a modified LPD-17.  So, with nothing more than that statement, what would you, the reader, estimate the cost of the LX(R) to be?  Probably the cost of the last LPD built ($2.1B) with some minor adjustments for specific equipment removed and specific equipment added plus the inevitable cost increases that just plain seem to accrue to shipbuilding, right?  Same ship, same cost.  Seems reasonable.  So, what does the Navy think?

From a USNI News website article comes the Navy’s view of the cost (1).

“The Navy and Marine Corps were able to design an LX(R) dock landing ship replacement with greater capability for less money by starting with the higher-end San Antonio-class LPD-17 design, stripping away unneeded features and adding back in desired ones, service officials said last week.”

The same ship, with greater capability, for less money.  Does that sound reasonable?

“Johnson [Capt. Bryon Johnson, OPNAV N953] said the program had to stay within a cost cap but said he was confident the first ship would stay within the cost cap and deliver on time.”

Consider the Navy’s track record of meeting first ship cost and schedule goals.  Would you think it’s more or less likely that the first LX(R) will be delivered on time and one budget?

“Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, who served as director of expeditionary warfare (OPNAV N95) until July, said at a Marine Corps Association event last month that, in fact, the Navy and Marine Corps had far surpassed cost-reduction goals while descoping the LPD design.

‘We drove that to a cost cap that was given to us by [the chief of naval operations], and we, with our industry partners, with [Naval Sea Systems Command], drove in the right requirements. And we got the most we could possibly get out of that ship, and it almost looks like an LPD-17, and we got it well under the cost cap,’ he said.”

An even more optimistic view, huh?  Costs will be well under the cost cap.  I don’t know what the cost cap is.  I think they’re referring to an internal target cost rather than a Congressionally mandated cost cap and I think the internal target is $1.6B per ship.

“Current N95 Maj. Gen. Chris Owens said the approach is ‘attractive to [the Office of the Secretary of Defense] and it’s attractive on Capitol Hill’ due to its efficiency. Ultimately, he said, it will ‘give us a bigger ship, greater capability, not only in size and capacity but also in things like aviation capability, the medical capability and perhaps most importantly in this day and age of split and disaggregated operations the command and control capability that the LSDs lack.’ ”

There it is again – a bigger ship with greater capability for less money.  Does that seem believable?  The Navy will take the exact same ship they just built for $2.1B and make it bigger, with more capability and they believe it will be cheaper?  Isn’t that the definition of insanity - doing essentially the same thing and expecting a different outcome?  They're going to build essentially the same ship and expect it will cost significantly less - insanity.

LX(R) - Insanity?

Someday we will be discussing the LX(R) cost overruns and debating why they happened.  Well, the starting point is right here, right now, with the Navy’s typical wildly underestimated costs. 

What will the LX(R) really cost?  As I said, it will be the cost of the last LPD built ($2.1B), less removed equipment, plus added equipment, plus inflation, and plus that inevitable cost creep that seems to affect Navy ships.  The removed and added equipment will probably be a wash and cancel out so that leaves us with $2.1B plus the inevitable creep so let’s call it $2.5B.  There you have it.  With no specifications to look at, a reasonable cost estimate would be $2.5B.  Ask yourself, who is more likely to be right about the LX(R) costs, ComNavOps or the Navy?

The Navy’s inability to learn lessons is legendary and this is the start of yet another example.

(1)USNI, “Navy: LX(R) Will Be Cheaper, More Capable Thanks To Using San Antonio LPD Design As Starting Point”, Megan Eckstein, November 5, 2015,


  1. Amazingly, the USN failed to simply build a repeat LSD-41/49 class modified with more powerful and fuel efficient diesels and damage control equipment and call it a day. And I would add modern active heave compensated cargo cranes.


  2. Given that the Navy does things like build this ship itself, with no warfighting equipment, and then advertise that as the 'cost' of the ship, I honestly think at this point that the numbers given out aren't just ridiculously optimistic, but rather are deliberate attempts at deception. So no, I don't think its insanity. I think the best we can hope for is incompetence. Because the worst suggests corruption.

    Whether they are trying to deceive Congress, just make themselves look better to the taxpayer, or both to make the job of the lobbyists easier, I don't know. But it is beyond belief to me that the Navy made up of highly trained and educated commanders and admirals repeatedly make the same blunders. 'Whooops! Blew up the cost caps again! Sorry!"

    And *with* all that, we have ships that are proving to be expensive *without* all the added sensors and really expensive bits. $1.x billion for a Burke hull and powertrain?

    I know not all things commercial relate to all things military. But commercial industrial experience is the source and bedrock of military industrial capability.

    It boggles my mind to see friends who work for automakers (Domestic, or foreign who design in the US) make tough decisions for cars that can only really be successful at a solid price point.

    For example, if Toyota would love to have autonomous driving in the Corolla, but know that it would take it a couple grand out of its competitors price points, they often won't do it. They can be ruthless about keeping price down by limiting options.

    Apparently they can't do that in military ship building.

    I'm very frustrated with the whole thing. Our acquisitions have become so political that they have all the speed, agility, and integrity of the Stay Puff'd marshmallow man.

    I've joked before that we need the ghost of Rickover. But I do wonder who, if anyone, in the Navy at this point is looking out for the needs of the taxpayer. If only because the resources given by them to the Navy are precious, and should be used carefully.

  3. Didn't FLT I DDG's start out at $1B dollars and when upgraded to the FLT IIA swell to $1.8B but eventually came back down to $1B? Ideally the LX(R) would follow that pricing trajectory. I think the ballooning cost will come from the fact the USN simply doesn't need that many LSD replacements.

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    2. Plus, in the last several years the Navy has begun to implement some pretty significant accounting manipulations that obscure the true costs. Trying to compare ships from this accounting era to earlier ships is challenging, at best.

    3. "implement some pretty significant accounting manipulations that obscure the true costs"

      If your broker did this it would be called "Fraud".


  4. 'Doing-a-B-52-on Long Well-Deck LSD-41' has yet to be considered.
    Air Force’s B-52 Bomber-design will be near 90 years of age by the time it will be mustered out in the late 2030s.

    Going from 8-hull LSD-41 (just SLEP’d) to a stripped LPD-17-II will lose USN and USMC 58% of well-deck capacity per hull by going from 440-feet to 189 feet well-deck length.
    And that feat is being accomplished at about twice the cost of new LSD-41 !
    So, per given Dollar the Marines will have access to less than 25% of well-deck capability.
    No damage by any hostile power could ever have been this destructive !

    LSD-41 is the most-utilized work-horse amongst USN vessel-classes with great utility for a lot of presence and assist missions. Lots of HA/DR for instance can be offered via Connectors and rolling and tracked assets delivered from the well-deck - all without intact and perfect port-facilities and for premium P.R. .

    According to the RAND-Corporation metrics of their 2006 study
    "Why has the Cost of Navy Ships risen ?"
    a modernized (by USN's PMS-450 for the class; SLEP process) LSD-41 with radar-signature-reducing measures added should cost well under $700 million per hull - inflation-adjusted and additional gadgets included.

    The original average cost per LSD-41 was $211 million per hull, starting at S339 million for LSD-41 WHIDBEY ISLAND in '81 and ending at $149 million for LSD-48 ASHLAND in '92.

    $211 million would inflation-adjusted amount to $473 million per hull today.
    RAND's investigation of a range of ship-building programs found that if no endless change-orders are screwing up the construction-process, cost is controllable and predictable - as you see with the LSD-41 class.

    Assuming no endless frigging with the type,
    - adding the PMS-450 upgrades
    - and adding radar-signature-reductions
    - plus a pinch of more inflation-adjustments - rather low actually -
    you'd actually end up at nearer $600 million per ship.

    And that means that per given ship-building budget we could have
    - a 4-ship ARG consisting of 1x LHD, 1x LPD-17, and 2x LSD-41/21
    - happily distributing all of the heavy-weight MEU GCE assets across 4 hulls
    - with 4 flight-decks
    - carrying a potent mix of 17 connectors
    - with 3x LCAC (in LHD)
    - and (yes !) 14x LCU-F(200-ton payload @19kts)
    - with 6x per LSD-41
    - and 2x per LPD-17.

    Now you'd have access to actual FIRST WAVE capability sending just about all of the Ground Combat Element (GCE) of the MEU to shore, following a classic most-desirable scenario of sudden, no-warning, high-stealth from OTH-100- OTH-200 widely distributable access with up to 17 concurrent insertion points !!

    This should appeal to new USMC Commandant Neller !

    And of course to our friends on 'The Hill' at HASC and SASC asking (preferably between now and at best right after 2015 Thanksgiving dinners) why
    - using 'good-enough' technology - "doing-a-B-52"
    - via a 18-20 unit ship-class of LSD-41-21 (for 21st century)
    - broadly dispersed under 'Distributed Lethality'
    - and kept current with floating mission-suites
    would not be the most desirable way to
    - significantly increase overall USN Fleet-size
    - boost the Amphib-fleet (as requested forever by ARG/MEU folks)
    all to match
    - USMC's EF-21 Doctrine
    - and USN's CS-21 Doctrine.

    same cost for very very different outcome.

    Do the numbers yourself....!

    Where would one send that LSD-41/21 versus LPD-17-Flight-II Study to the boss of this blog ?

    1. Trudy, arghhh!!!! You just outed one of the posts in my pipeline. I have a post on this exact topic and you've hijacked it.

      Hey, that's absolutely fine and it shows the kind of thinking I try to encourage in my readers. Well done!

      Do you have an interest in doing a guest post (you've almost written a complete post in your comment!)? If so, contact me at

      carr[underscore]manor[at]yahoo[dot]com (substitute the appropriate characters for the spelled out words in the brackets.

      Great comment!

    2. One can always hope for more in the next PROCEEDINGS...

      And there is already this here from an active-duty serious-position insider:

      Yes, let's talk. The future of EF-21 - and CS-21 (!) - needs to be saved from the deeply-entrenched reactionary Muggles !

    3. @Trudy

      You have made some very astute observations, but the reality is that what passes for an ARG now is, by design, no longer capable of forced entry operations or high end combat against a first rate opponent.

      The current USMC plan for a “middle weight force” is truck-borne light infantry with about two-weeks of logistics. Tanks have been eliminated (or reduced to a single platoon), assault amphibians have been reduced to a single company of lift, the vertical envelopment capability of a MEU is questionable, and even the artillery battery is being cut. Our potential enemies are field far more capable force structures.

      In fact, without augmentation from MSC ships, there is no possibility of sustaining any combat operations ashore without JLOTS, and even then, the Navy, FMF, and MSC are not structured to transfer the bulk fuel and cargo (ISO containers!), that will inevitably have to be carried aboard commercial shipping, to a beach head. And yes I am aware of the OMS concept: it is pure fantasy that is not sustainable logistically. The best logistically sustainable amphibious force I have seen is from the US Army – the Navy and USMC should hang their heads in shame.

      I really could care less about disaster relief and humanitarian operations: it is at best a tertiary mission, and the military capability in this area is next to nothing. The American tax payer would be infinitely better served by contracting out to commercial shipping to delivering the aid.

      At the end of this rant: why should the taxpayer buy massively overpriced ships for ARGs that have no use other than chasing a few third world savages around in Toyota Hi-lux pickup trucks? The fleet and FMF deserve better, but there is nothing that passes for serious and cohesive doctrine upon which we can hang a reasoned acquisition approach.


    4. This was the 'canon' around 2000 as well, before then in 1990, 1980 etc. = a mix of self-fulfilling propheses based on inadequate well-deck usage due to inadequate well-deck hardware resulting in de facto incapacity to execute a First Wave of MEU GCE. And after decades of this folks, really believe that you can't do this despite the net need to be able to do it.

      But once long well-decks are maximized again with adequately-conceptualized Connectors able to carry a full-weight GCE incl. MBTs, one can begin to scheme, plan, war-game around this emerging possibility in order to indeed support EF-21.

      Give it a try GAB - rather than repeating the (plausible) pessimism borne of technical incapacity. It is not 'sober realism' to not leverage and explore available advanced thinking in increasingly-conceivable pursuit of a heretofore deemed lost skill-set, especially when the need for it is only growing.

      USMC will adapt to new-found capabilities with gusto. The innovators at Quantico have already worked their way into long well-deck based Connector-multiplication in order to carry the MEU to work...

    5. @Trudy,


      What "new-found capability[ies]" deny basic physics and chemistry?

      Again, I am concerned with defeating competent peer competitors, not chasing illiterate goat herders in pickup trucks.

      The limitations of light infantry were well demonstrated in WWI; the Vietnam War demonstrated the limitations of vertical envelopment (10,000 helicopters shot up); and the post 911 world has demonstrated some pretty significant limitations to the RMA.

      Quantico has failed to field a replacement for the LVTP-7 after wasting $ billions on multiple (terminated) programs (e.g. the EFV).

      Outrageous ship costs, confused requirements, and the fleet still cannot solve simple basic logistics problems like bulk fuel and ship to shore cargo handling - I am not impressed.


    6. Trudy and GAB, you're both citing different aspects and considerations of the same issue - you're essentially in agreement.

      Trudy notes the issue with well deck capacity of the LX(R) and suggests a modified -41 replacement that will retain the well deck capacity (I think that was the suggestion) along with a more LCU-heavy mix of connectors and a switch from a 3-ship ARG to a 4-ship ARG.

      GAB notes the current inability to conduct an opposed landing and notes that the problem goes beyond just ship configuration to include logistics, reduced tank and artillery levels, etc. I would throw flawed doctrine into the mix, as well (stand off distance, gun support, etc.)

      So, with that summary and the observation that you're both generally in agreement ... continue!

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    9. If the Marines are tasked with conducting opposed assaults, they'll need all the size they can get!

      What size do you envision for a MEU or MEB and what role do you see that size unit filling?

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    11. Ah, you lost me there. You're saying the MEU/MEB are too small but the MAGTF is too big? I'm missing your point.

      Is this just a terminology issue? A MAGTF is just a generic name for any Marine force that comprises both ground and air elements. Thus, a MEU is a small MAGTF. A MEF is a large MAGTF. Admittedly, I may be misunderstanding the terminology.

      So, while you're suggesting that MEU and MEB are too small, you're suggesting MAGTF is too big but they're the same animal.

      I'm missing your point. Try again?

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    13. Yes, an aviation element requires personnel to operate but it also offers a lot of capability. I'm still missing your point?? Are you saying that the Marines shouldn't have aviation capabilities? Are you saying we should only use MEUs and not MEBs because they're too big? Or, are you saying we should supersize the MEU/MEB with more ground forces? I'm sorry, it seems like I'm dense but I'm not grasping your point. Try again if you want to pursue this?

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    15. I suspect that on a relative basis, the AF is much bigger personnel-wise per aircraft than the Marine ACE. So, are you saying that for the Corps' given set of budget/resources, the money would be better spent on the ground side? If so, there are a LOT of people who would agree - me among them! The MV-22 and F-35 have crippled the Marine's ground combat capability.

      Is that the point that I've been so slow to grasp?

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    17. Well, yes, it costs money but, by the same token, what does it cost to operate an Air Force base (the equivalent of the amphibs)? What does it cost to get 19 B-2 bombers in the air?

      That's like saying it costs billions to get one rifleman to fire one bullet - the supporting logistics, housing, supplies, food, purchasers, Generals, Pentagon, and entire DoD all go into firing one bullet. Technically true but relevant only in a very generic and nonsensical sense. One can certainly fault the overall cost of DoD but to claim that it costs billions to fire one bullet is just logical gymnastics.

      Do you have a proposed solution?

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    19. What a fascinating topic you've opened up!

      'm not sure exactly what you have in mind by "more austere". The ACE is about as minimal as you can get. A cheaper carrier for the ACE is the Holy Grail, of course, but not realistic unless we want to consider a modified commercial design rather than a warship - and I'm all for looking at that.

      More to the point, and more to the fascinating point, what is the Marine aviation requirement? I would submit that it is not the F-35B. The Marines need close air support. The A2A, ISR, EW, etc. capabilities of the F-35B (assuming that they all work even remotely as advertised!) are unnecessary for supporting the Marine's job of assault and ground combat. Those functions, if needed, can be supplied by the Navy and AF better and more efficiently from AF airbases and Navy carriers. The Marines just need close air support in the broadest sense. Instead of F-35Bs, an ACE of attack helos, A-10s, and Tucanos would more than suffice across the spectrum of combat. Now, don't get hung up on the A-10 or Tucano, specifically. I'm referring to the type of capability they deliver for a given cost, meaning basic, no frills, solid, potent explosives support and airborne battlefield observation and guidance for the ground element. If someone has a better choice than the A-10 or the Tucano that delivers a similar capability at a similar cost then that's fine.

      The F-35B has capabilities the Marines don't need - unless they're trying to become an expeditionary air force - which I think they are for some horribly misguided reason (probably thinking it will ensure their budget slice better than ground combat).

      You should do a post on this!

    20. "However we are far enough along with the V-22 program that canceling it may not save much..."

      I've never been a believer in continuing a program just because it's moved past a certain point. If it's lost its value (or never had it!) then it should be cancelled even if it only saves one dollar.

      The MV-22 is a questionable aircraft, at best. There are certain things it can do well (high speed transport) but most of things it was intended to do, it doesn't do very well. Vertical assault, for example, is a weakness at the point of the actual assault landing. It can't conduct massed, tight, rapid, safe combat landings. It's an unsafe helo and a compromised fixed wing aircraft. Anyway, cancelling the MV-22 is perfectly feasible in my mind, if warranted. It gains no protection just because it's well along in its production run. The savings may not be large but cancelling a product that is not delivering enough of its intended benefits is always a good thing!

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    22. Smitty: "At one point, my solution was to truncate the V-22 program, the CH-53K program, and the F-35B, and buy a more "Army-like" ACE (i.e. 101st air assault with UH-60 and CH-47)."


      The requirement for CH-53Ks at $125 million a copy is another unsustainable program: the USMC (and US taxpayer) would be much better served by navalized versions of the H-60 and H-47.

      Last I looked, CH-47Fs were going for $26 Million - about the same as an H-60.

      The only real downside to H-47s is they take up a bigger landing spot, but the USN should be able to support the USA as well as the USMC.


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    25. Smitty: "A variant with auto folding rotors would take up less space than an MV-22 or CH-53K."

      True - but they would still be a bargain if they cost $50 Million.

      Trading one CH-53K for two (or more) "CH-47Ns" is a no brainer.


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    27. Well, well, $25million for MH-60 ?
      Good to see those numbers mentioned elsewhere reasonably in the ball-park. 60xLCU-F times $25million = $1.5 billion - versus the $3 billion blown on just a technologist's dream for EFV.

      And should LCU-F should cost this much, would anyone think that that is too much for a multi-purpose Connector/Combatant ?

      We've already discussed options incl. IFS for instance, MASH-duty (let's call it Marines Floating Surgical Hospital...MFSH), 200-tons fuel combat-tanker, etc, etc.

      Doing GCE-landing for the first stage of the amphibious assault but then leveraging all sort of mission-suites to have her do complementary work as, say, a 400+-tons combatant, with those temporary capabilities inserted/rolled/slid/dragged into her 105'-x 13.5' foot cargo-bay ?

      And if you keep your hatches shut until it is time to use your systems, no adversary can see that there is more than just another one of these ubiquitous LCU-Fs. Until your twin 203mm barrels go up and the scissor-jacks lift the MLRS flush to roof-deck level, prioritizing limited 'smart' defense weapons is a real challenge.
      Hiding in plain sight as a plain LCU-F until the reveal.


      LSD-41 has two landing-spots on her flight-deck and is plumbed for refueling of ACE assets. With temperatures-correct deck-preparations, MV-22 and F-35B could at least get refueled, re-crewed, and with minor bits and pieces even re-armed there.

      Having four flight-decks of various capabilities beats having fewer...

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    29. "LCU-F looks like a ship designed by Rube Goldberg after watching a Transformers marathon. "

      Have you seen some of those bridgelayer vehicles?! Yes, LCU-F is an odd looking design but all I care about is whether it can perform the required task(s) effectively and reliably.

      I certainly have doubts about many of the performance claims but I'd like to see some Marine engineers evaluate it and, if encouraging, consider building a prototype. Heck, we built 55 LCS without even that much evaluation and with no prototyping!

      I'm neither for nor against the LCU-F but I think it's worth some investigation. We're certainly not making any headway in assault connectors as things stand now!

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    31. The mechanical complexity of the LCU-F is one of the things that could prove to be a weakness of the design. There are examples of complex machines that work (bridgelayers) and there are examples of ones that don't (the LCS-2 launch/recovery mechanism comes to mind). Is the LCU-F moving parts all that much more complex than, say, the moving wings of an F-14? We can make giant drawbridges so we ought to be able to engineer a folding LCU. Now, whether that degree of complexity is a good thing or not for a combat vessel is another question. I'm a big believer in KISS !

    32. The Newport News LST with its opening bow and unique bow ramp system is another interesting example of complexity that seemed to work in the ship world.

      Heck, the F-22 internal weapons bay, external launch mechanism is probably more complex than the LCU, just on a smaller scale!

      I'm not defending the LCU - just not writing it off due to appearance alone!

      Now I'm trying to think of the most complex ship I can recall - just for the curiosity of it. Can you think of any good examples?

      A carrier elevator is a pretty complex piece of machinery.

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    34. Yep, perfectly reasonable. While it's fun to debate specific concepts, I think the larger issue is why the Navy/Marines have spent decades doing nothing about connectors and, even now, are only looking at virtually identical copies of the existing LCAC and AAV despite knowing that those will not meet the requirements of getting a MEU/MEB ashore and sustained.

      I hope the F-35 can win a war single-handed because we're sacrificing an awful lot of badly needed weapons and systems in the name of F-35 procurement. I shudder to think what the LRS-B and SSBN(X) will do to DoD-wide procurement.

    35. LCU-F seems a soothingly-simple exercise in mild articulation-ambitions
      - with her plain standard industrial hydraulic-rams,
      - wire-winches
      - 90-180-degree hinges
      when compared to this outlandish contraption which would make Rube Goldberg wither from inferiority complexes:

    36. And B.Smitty are you proposing to build an extra 10,000s of tons ship-class to avoid plain hinges on a 220-tons empty-weight lighter ?

      And you'd attach that extra type to the 22kts ARG ?

      But not maximize the investment in perfectly-proven long well-deck Amphibs ?

      Why would such a ship be better value than running a few dozen copies of LSD-41/21 and share extras with
      - S.Korea,
      - Japan,
      - Australia,
      - Germany etc.
      all to engage in shared well-deck standard for interchangeable Connectors to arrive at a 'Fleet of the Willing' say in the West-Pacific to reestablish 200-mile EEZs ?

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    39. Looking at that video will give me night-sweats.
      The idea of
      - rotating the main-wing 90-degrees,
      - the wing having turbines attached to its very outside tip you know !!
      - Word is that these turbines are cross-shafted with each other !
      - And then those turbines rotating by themselves on some hinge again
      - through another 90-degrees,
      - with them able to crank out 6000HP each (more than a 4-engine B-17)
      - and then
      - their propellers unfolding as well with hinges in the very prop-blades that have to absorb 6000HP !!!

      Unthinkable, I say.
      Nuts it is.
      The idea of some techno-freak not knowing his limits, fer slide-rule sake...

      And who's going to pay for something like this ??

      This is not going to end well !

      Before you know it, someone will dream up a scheme to take them to war - or something.
      Just give'm half the chance and they'll try that.

      What is this world coming to ?!

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    41. Good thing that LCUs do not crash - and cost much less...

      In fact, looking at her, with partial load, putting a hole in her main-hull might still see her not sinking - if the ends remain water-tight intact.

      At any rate, Rube Goldberg would not 'get the hots' over LCU-F.

    42. B.Smitty said "Trudy,

      The hinges and such have to survive wave slamming over the service life of the ship and have to reliably open and close in all sea states without capsizing the LCU-F, and it has to prove stable with loads during beaching, crossing surf zone, and so on.

      Plus, all of this is extra weight.

      I would be open to seeing a prototype built, but I remain skeptical."

      If you'd design her to have all the loads on the hinges - yes.

      But I'd rather have that load distributed across several hard-points much lower on those bulkheads to spread those loads across a broad area on a major structural members-assembly.

      Looking at her mid-section her Center-of-Gravity empty or loaded will compare well to LCU-1610 or INLS etc.

      Those 90-degree fold-out gyro-stabilizing sponsons seem to offer several dozen tons of buoyancy up to about 17-20 feet from centerline.

      To move those ends, over 2000HP diesel-electrics/hydraulics can be leveraged to make this a matter of under a minute each per two bow- and one stern-module. The faster - the better. And not at Force 6 either !

      Well-deck Ops have their distinct upper limit before the ocean is allowed into ballast-tanks and well-deck. LSD-41 seems to take 30-mins to flood and 45-mins to empty the tanks. So you would never propose to fold/.unfold her "in all sea-states". No ACE asset flies in all wind-conditions either...

      There would be little reason to not locate LCU-F's 360-thrusters where they leverage 1000+ HP to not have her broach. Remember that her bow is facing out to sea to take the incoming waves. And with her 100+' long cargo-bay aft, her propulsion must be pretty much forward in her main-hull - just where you'd want these thrusters to keep her 'straight'.

      Extra weight from hinges, hydraulics and reinforcements have few penalties in a displacement-speed hull running through the water - not over the water.

      Should she become extra-ordinarily heavy after all, the average GCE-load is 140-tons of well-distributed vehicle-mix to put aboard her; the triple-MBT option would be exceedingly rare.
      However one could see at best 'losing' a few 5-10-tons to the need to bolt/weld-in extra structural-meat.

      But first step-by-step exploration of all details and successive model-testing.

      However , like LSD-41/21, LCU-F appears not to have been part of any AoA !?

    43. Trudy, I have driven many landign craft and loaded even more. I completely agree with BSmitty that the LCU-F is a wizbang vessel.
      And having already chartered heavy lift ships aka semi-submersibles aka Flo/Flo, the cost effective solution to adding landing craft spots to the ARG is to charter and/or convert an existing HLS which could lift MORE LCAC/SSC as well as other type landing craft than any 2 amphib warships combined.
      BTW the USN is now looking just to update the 1660 class LCU, while the Army is going far beyond that by soliciting a MVS(L) lighter which is specifically meant to be lifted by amphib or HLS.
      The USN IMHO has been behind the power curve on landing vessels for about 20 years now. Preferring to sink many millions into keeping the current LCAC in service FAR beyond their design life. AND buying the SSC nee LCAC-100 which only has a small payload improvement.

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  6. ComNavOps - thanks for these supportive observations. Part 1 of 2.

    yes "new-found capability[ies]" but not assuming any temptation to “deny basic physics and chemistry?”

    Until Scotty can ‘beam’ us over, we’ll depend on Diesel-powered, steel-hull, heavy-lift-capable, zero-unobtanium-required LCU-types. And if they need for 21st-century purposes the mechanical-complexity equivalent of an average construction-back-hoe or a USMC 8x8 combat-crane, in order to give the ARG/MEU Commanders adequate Connector-capacity, such as the one cited in my longer contribution to CNO’s topic, so it shall be. Compared to just a helo-drive-train or watching an MV-22 unfold on an LHD elevator makes any advanced Connector-design like LCU-F look like really mild fare.

    So, yes I am talking (again) about LCU-F – so far the sole 21st-century connector that can begin to deliver a MEU’s GCE and AH/UH-1 ACE elements from up to OTH-200 from shore.
    (Dedicated entry, ComNavOps, in your Index ?)

    For a quick review sample these sources:
    And Commandant Amos here Feb’14 at WEST’14 on video between 12:20 and 19:45: |
    Note not just his language but his hand-motion twice
    And then 4 months later with more detail in print with just a pinch more attention to LCU-F:

    With up to 14 fast 200-tons-lift LCU-F per 4-ship ARG, the MEU-commander can throw up to 2800-tons of GCE in ONE CONCURRENT VOLLEY at the adversary's shore-line - unlikely, but physically doable. With 3x M1As per LCU-F that means delivering up to 42 Main Battle Tanks concurrently at 19kts from 200nm or more with LCU-F's 1500nm range (!) to 14 separate destinations if need be - and that without counting LCAC/SSCs doing their thing.

    What this means that there is no need for any 'diet' in terms of weight of tracked and wheel assets all the way down to just stout Hummer replacements - all in keeping with post-Fallujah conclusions.

    So a MEU on a 4-ship ARG would seem a highly desirable and already budgeted-for expenditure - once certain folks step aside who are all too happy to pay double-plus to get 42% of well-deck with the absurd claims of plausibly supporting EF-21 and CS-21. No hostile power could do this much damage to USMC's future than this short-well-deck irresponsibility as 'planned' to be inflicted the sister-services.
    End of Part1 of 2.

    1. Part 2 of 2
      Interesting for all - not just ComNavOps - what is emerging out of the 'Connector-Strategy' universe and their narrow-casting of Analysis of Alternatives. The apparent fact that it excluded LCU-F for instance (?!) is rather juicy in itself in terms of the written record of opinions on her by 'in-house experts'... LCU-F has been with NAVSEA since 2005 !! And yet certain staffers may still claim that they were unawares of her as they crafted their Connector-Requirements set.
      For all we know they may not even admit to reading the PROCEEDINGS...
      That for another time perhaps.

      But, it seems, a similar mind-set as applied to LX(R) - if not actually same folks singing off the same song-sheet.

      In whose interest is any of this ?
      - Ship-Builders sure would like to build twice the ships, with more outfits getting some of the action, all in support of US jobs and specialty-skills.
      - Twice the drive-trains, twice the comm-, nav,- safety- etc. gear for vendors to sell.
      - And for USN twice the CO-positions on such 16,000-tons LSD-41/21s.
      - Many more places to be at the same time
      All to massively enhance USN amphibious capabilities for the same budget !
      And without Scotty slaving away at the teleporter-deck !

      In terms of its planned tax-payer-financed destructiveness against EF-21 and CS-21, all this should amount to career-benders for some folks somewhere in here…

      This sure looks like mid-level doings feeding personal preferences upwards, rather than decision-makers carefully defining damage-strategies undermining their own positions, their service, their reputations.

    2. Trudy, the LCU-F has come up before in the blog discussions. Its supporters are enthusiastic, to say the least! In concept, there is nothing wrong with exploring the idea. If engineers assess the idea as feasible, I'd encourage the construction of a prototype to more fully explore the design. Realistically, I also note the near absolute history of designs being oversold. Most recently, even the very simple JHSV has failed to live up to its rather modest set of requirements - not a horrendous failing but a warning that concepts never quite fully pan out as desired. Of course, there are always the LCS and JSF as more serious examples of concepts that sounded wonderful on paper and failed to deliver as promised.

      That said, a single prototype is a very low risk and worthwhile venture.

      Beyond "simply" designing a new LSD and LCU-F, there remain the doctrinal assault issues that GAB mentions. For better or worse, the Marines are moving quickly away from high end assault and towards low end, light infantry ops. They are shedding tanks, artillery, and heavy equipment. Connectors aside, the Navy is incapable of providing fire support during the initial phases of an assault. And so on ... None of that means we shouldn't explore alternative connectors or ship designs but it does mean we need to keep the other issues in mind. For example, you note that the MEU commander could deliver up to 42 tanks. The reality is that a MEU has only 4 tanks assigned and a MEB has only 14 tanks! There's no reason that couldn't be changed, of course, but it demonstrates that the assault issues go well beyond just equipment.

      Your suggestion also leaves open issues with logistics and sustainment of the assault. Fuel transfer, for example is a major shortcoming and attempting to transfer the requisite amount of fuel via LCUs is probably not feasible.

      All that said, I repeat that an alternate LX(R) may well be a good idea and the LCU-F is worth a prototype if it can be integrated with assault doctrine.

  7. ComNavOps, Part 1 of 2
    fully agreed on this.
    I sure am reasonably familiar with what MEUs need and what they don't have. The note on the 'mad' number of MBTs was just a reference to the earlier point on what the Army may hope to be able to do - assuming they are where the action is, likely difficult with 12kts LCU-types by themselves versus being routinely carried by 22kts Amphibs already somewhere nearer.

    To be cute on this, the MEU actually has 5 tanks incl. one recovery-type...

    USMC routinely adapts to available ARG-ship types.
    And if more heavy-weight GCE-structures could be carried and then plausibly delivered they'd engage that opportunity.

    So between the earlier Amphibious Triad hopes of essentially 'light-weighting' everything (LCAC/V-22/EFV) under short-distances/zero-attack-stealth premises, and now recurring such reflexes, these are likely very much based on what can't be done right now - not what would be desirable to do.

    So far none of the reasonably modest MEU GCE-assets have actually ever been deployable in one FIRST WAVE concurrently, because matching Connector-concepts have been lacking since the 50s. And until the 8-ship LSD-41 class came along in the early '80s no 440-foot well-deck was available either.

    So we have a classic chicken-&-egg issue, most readily addressable by a well-deck-correct Connector such as LCU-F to then see USMC maximize on these unprecedented tactical opportunities. Their 'Doctrine' will quickly adapt.

    Note already how EF-21 massively shifted UAN/USMC paradigms on ship-to-shore distances when it suddenly went from 6-12nm to OTH-65, with CMC Amos at WEST'14 adding up distances to over OTH-200 ONE-WAY !

    Once opportunities like LCU-F have gotten vetted within NAVSEA since 2005 (Co-Author in upper-mid-level NAVSEA staffer) and at USMC since 2013 this can rapidly result in different thinking very quickly.

    As to the logistics of sustaining MEU progress ashore, 200 tons per 19kts LCU-F trip seems a good start, especially if you have 14 of them per 4-ship ARG/MEU. Even from OTH-200 after the first dawn-landing of GCE, increasing numbers of LCU-F will be able to carry increasing humbers of logistics - after landing Combat Support Element CSE that is.

    Here some numbers on fuel for instance:
    200tons equals about 55,000 gals of fuel.
    - Just 2x LCU-F can thus deliver over 100,000gals of fuel from OTH-200 every 24hrs.
    - 55,000 gals of fuel per LCU-F equals over 180x AH/UH-1 refueling-cycles of internal 300-gals tank, since they would be combat-loaded without external tanks on hard-points. With LCU-F tanker loitering ever-moving out of tank-gun/mortar etc. range, AH/UH can settle on her 40 x 30 after-deck to re-fuel, re-arm, re-crew. plus minor 'field'-repair-sessions between missions.

    Once you start engaging these logistical opportunities across all sorts of demands, things begin to warm the heart.
    End of Part 1 of 2.

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    2. Looking at a range of USMC-integrated plus other DOD-spec COTS modular tank-farms, between LCU-F-correct bolt-in framing, bladders, plumbing and pumps, the total weight of these 'temporary' fuel-tanks is a matter of a few tons - and readily insertable into LCU-F's long and MBT+-wide cargo-bays (see the section in the article).

      Perfectly constrained by LCU-F's structure with endless mounting-points, plus those cat-walks left an right for access either side, these multiple smaller frame-&-bladder kits can be moved in, assembled and filled within hours. Under time-pressure, for all I'd care you'd finish plumbing and trials of the pumps., manifolds and hoses while you are on your way back towards the theater.

      As LCU-F (temporary) Combat-Tanker approaches inshore, helos can refuel. And assuming a reasonably quieter spot 24hrs later, she can be beached with multiple pumps and hoses filling wheeled tankers always hoping hat things are indeed calm enough for that to be possible - an issue at every FARP location.

      If the prospect to haul 200-tons of fuel is of interest to the MEU-Commander, the there are a range of mil-spec COTS solutions to convert one or more LCU-F into a temporary tanker. Those kits will have to address hard-points and chafe in LCU-F's internal parameters.

      Correct me on this one but 55,000gals may translate into approximately 100' x 12' x 6' footprint of framed bladders.
      CSE-folks would make as short work of setting up that 'tank-farm' inside LCU-F as they'd do it in the field. Motivation should be high.

  8. Part 2 of 2
    The real problem is that is seems that N95 has not actually looked at LCU-F seriously and thus appear not even half-way conversant on her opportunities for both USN and USMC. One hopes that ex-N95 boss LtGEN Marsh will reexamine this odd scenario now that he is back at Quantico.

    And anyone who'd have a speculation-induced fit as to what LCU-F would cost would actually have to first understand her, model her, test her in smaller scales etc.

    There is just steel, diesel, COTS=-drives, some stout but perfectly conventional hydraulics in her - and no need for titanium-visions, carbon-fiber dreams, nano-tube experimentations. She is proposed in fairly conventional materials arranged however in an unprecedented combination of geometries which come together to result in indeed unprecedented tactical opportunities. capabilities.

    Some have mentioned cost the equivalent of a $20million BLACKHAWK package, but these numbers are uncertain since those helo-numbers may be uncertain. What Connectors like her do however is to indeed become true Force-Multipliers, from leveraging extant Amphibs over FIRST WAVE-capability to independent ops-capability likely such as for Littoral MARSOC duty, Anti-Piracy Patrol etc.

    Looking at her and working through (almost) never-ending scenarios, this is quite exciting stuff. Only flaming 'Reactionaries' would argue against even looking at her much closer. And Innovators within USMC seem to keep pushing against the grey-faced Obstructionists... More power to them.

    One more note on cost, the PROCEEDINGS Article/Letters stated that for the $3Billion EFV-failure you could have built the 60+ Heavy-Lift Connectors USMC postulated in April of 2012 as the minimum necessary, and have a fair bit left over. It sure would be interesting whether this point could be proven - an advanced vessel-class at or under budget.

  9. Forgot about 'fire-support'.
    Major challenge for a long time now.

    The PROCEEDINGS article on LCU-F does mention Inshore Fire Support.
    - Unguided 155mmm have been fired off LCU 1610 type via M-109 - seemingly just to do it.
    - Today we could stabilize the barrel and use Excalibur-head for guidance and a crude but likely quite effective shore bombardment could be tried out as part of the prototyping of LCU-F.
    - There would be room for twin US Army M110 mounts in her after cargo-bay, again stabilized but now offering 203mm (8") 39-cal barrels for the next level of punch.
    - There are no Excalibur heads for 203mm but putting the smaller guidance head on bigger shell seems easier than vice-versa.
    - Next step would be twin stabilized 52-cal barrel to fire guided 203mm.
    - There might even be length for 62-cal barrel experiments.
    - PzH-2000 howitzer has done 55km/30nm with rocket-assist 155mm projectile.

    The real question is how many rounds it takes to begin breaking LCU-F apart...

    And yet, there are newer active-suppression recoil-notions that might come in as useful here. This level of experimentation costs a fraction of just designing (never mind building !) a 'land-attack destroyer'.

    One set-up could be twin 203 52-cal plus in the middle a single 9" 12-tube MLRS. By approximate volume perhaps 400 203mm rounds and 6 missile reloads might be plausible for 84 missile shots, or a handful of 24" projectiles ATACMS fired off MRLS for a much capitalized-upon range e.g. in Iraq of over 150nm.

    So fire-support could be well-deck based, an idea of course very much subject to actual experimentation on one LCU-F wired up with strain-gauges etc. to watch her gradual disintegration - or not - or not so gradual...

    There would be no need for much vessel-life under such severe duty as no LCU-F would ever be used long-term with such a slide-in-bolt-down set-up. Practice only with limited shots. Test-to-destruction will offer insights on total life-expectancy.
    - How many worn barrels will it take before she shows distress?
    - Or do you even get through the barrel's 50% life ?
    Perhaps an altogether impossible idea - except that that is not quite so enough to not go down to Aberdeen/Patuxent/etc. to give it ....'a shot'!.

    Should this work 'good enough', interesting opportunities open up.
    Picture one or two of the 4-ship ARG LCU-F dedicated to IFS to support the MEU's progress.

    De facto non-naval guns covered in grease under full cover of LCU-F, under cover of Amphib - therefore never sitting 'outside' saltwater-washed for good, systems-reliability may not be implausible.

    Thus DDG's limited range of 5" guns might become less of a challenge.
    ARG/MEU have no DDGs anyway.
    Cheap trials suggest having at this !

    More good reasons for long well-deck Amphibs - IFS.

  10. Looking at the index of topics in this blog, LCS mission-modules can be found.
    We know about related challenges of getting some/all (?) to work.

    Was it not 140-tons max. weight that was part of the challenge ?
    140 on a 3000+tons frame.

    In a ratio reflecting common practices of cargo-carriers, LCU-F carries 200-tons on a 220-tons empty frame at 19+kts !

    1. That's not exactly comparing apples to apples. The LCU is intended and designed to be a cargo carrier. It is maximized for carrying by design. The LCS was not designed to carry cargo. It was just intended to carry a specific max weight module. You can debate the designed weight limits and the resultant impact on module design but a direct comparison of carrying capacities is not valid. The LCS carries what it was designed to carry and the LCU would carry what it is designed to carry. They're two different spec's and two different animals.

    2. Once we are talking mission-modules to enable the given envelope to match a particular challenge then we may be closer to Cortland versus Granny Smith.

      The point of my reminder on mission-module weight is that the Amphib could bring to the given theater multiples of what LCS can.
      Doing the long well-deck argument, for what an LSD-41/21 costs (on paper) you get at best 2 LCS:
      a.) 6x LCU-F-based 200-ton mission-suite
      - swappable at will offshore to match emerging tactical conditions
      = 1200 tons in 6 different alterable configurations as need dictates.

      b.) 2x LCS-mission-suites at 140 tons each, only exchangeable at few very specific base-facilities
      = 280 tons of de facto at least mid-term installation-commitment.

      This suggests that for a Littoral Combat Ship-duty
      - a common LSD-41 type is vastly superior
      - in bringing 6x-multiples of fighting-power
      - and mission-suites right up to the beach - if need be -
      - while the 'mother-ship' stays herself OTH-200 out of most harm's way
      - while her 6x semi-autonomous well-deck based systems go and look for prey/trouble/progress ashore.

      Now we are talking 3:1 advantage of old 'non-sexy' LSD-41 over LCS.

      In fact, while LSD's 6 systems will often succeed by sheer small size and limited signatures, a 3000+tons LCS can against anything above cave-men opponents ill-afford to actually do duty in the Littorals !

      So all the exertions and massive propulsion-inefficiencies - jet-drives - (for significant lifetime logistical burdens) that were chosen to reduce vessel-draft of 22' of a FG-7 type to 13' and 14' respectively for LCS seems a bit of strained technical reasoning versus actual tactical utility.

      Which brings us back to the Thread-Topic:
      - The odd LCS-logic and poor 'Littoral' multi-mission utility seems to follow a similar tortured techno-happy-&-tactically-poor line of
      - odd LX(R) logic claiming to match with a 42% well-deck capacity an ever heavier MEU foot-print not even manageable now with a 100% LSD-41 well-deck.

      Children would always delight in this logic: "Two plus two is purple !"
      And some kids will never forget this wild and loopy absurdity...

      A life-lesson learned early: Beware folks who hawk this as 'best thinking' !

  11. This thread has gotten muddled, but I note that two critical issues remain unaddressed:

    1. The ability to land and rapidly off-load mobile combined arms battle groups in combat order.

    2. The ability to sustain delivery of ammunition, fuel, and supplies directly from ships to the front lines eliminating the WWII pile up of supplies on the beach (the iron mountain) - a key, and well-argued concept of Operational Maneuver from the Sea (OMFTS).

    Until these points are properly addressed by doctrine, acquisition, and training, everything else is rubbish. Well decks, helicopters, and landing craft will not staunch these gapping shortfalls.


    1. You can't do amphibious invasions over the beach anyways, certainly not after scrapping the LST's.
      You have to directly seize a port where ships can dock at, unload asap, then leave.

      Otherwise the logistics of supporting a force is an impossible burden.

      The marines need to dump the air assault meme, convert to a fully mechanized force, and with their spare cash, buy commercial freighters capable of carrying the thousand LCU's that they would need.

      aka, an actual invasion, as opposed to some sort of helicopter raid.

    2. Couldn't agree more! Well said.

  12. GAB,
    can you define your terms ?

    MEU is understood, accounted for via the ARG carrying it and LCU-F to shore, with successive waves of CSE etc. until all is ashore of which the MEU consists.

    Then offshore transfer from transports of additionals on to Connectors continuing their task, one 200-ton load per Connector at a time... or 2000-tons
    with 10x LCU-Fs bridging the distance from OTH-200 again and again.

    No need for piles of materiel on the breach.
    As the article outlined, landing and prompt proceeding the 'objective' preferably via multiple landing-locations.

    What is "muddled" about this scenario outlined in the three PROCEEDINGS elements referenced above ?

    Which "gapping shortfalls" are visible to you ?

  13. @Trudy,

    You are talking about tactical lift for assault waves (LCU-F, et al) - assault craft are not the cause, or solution to serious logistics support issues: I am concerned with:

    1. The viability of the force facing a peer competitor in a high intensity environment where *air supremacy* is not guaranteed (Russia, NK, China, possibly Iran in the near future).

    2. The feasibility of sustaining that force, again in a high intensity environment prior to seizure/rehabilitation of a friendly port.

    These are serious high end warfare challenges, that a light infantry force is just not equipped to deal with, nor will the landing force have the luxury of mucking about on the beach for an hour or two to consolidate a beach head and sort itself out.

    Any amphibious assault is likely to see the enemy call in at least one or two artillery battalion sized size artillery concentrations, followed up by airstrikes and counter-attacks by armored forces. The doctrinal response was formulated back in 1949 by the USMC Armor Board, and again in the post Gulf War “Krulak board” which called for the formation of a CAR on both coasts (see Colonel Ken Estes book “Marines under Armor.”

    I will not touch upon the merits of your suggestions, but the logistical underpinnings of what passes for amphibious operations have been called into serious question by military logisticians, RAND, the National Academies of Sciences, and other professional societies.

    To get a picture of my concerns about OMFTS, look at:
    1. Joint Pub 3-02
    2. FM 4-95 logistics operations
    3. MCWP 4-11 Tactical-Level Logistics
    4. MCWP 4-11.6 Petroleum and Water Logistics Operations
    5. “Ship to Shore Logistics and the Need for Change” by the UK Defense blog: Think Defense
    6. “Breaking the Tether of Fuel” Military Review Jan-Feb 2007
    7. The National Academies of Sciences Study: “Naval Expeditionary Logistics Enabling Operational Maneuver from the Sea”

    Real war is unforgiving, and military bureaucracies do not change until they get their teeth kicked in. George Marshall sacked 39 Division and Corps commanders for under performing in 36-months during WWII.


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    2. GAB said "the fastest way to put armor ashore is for it to swim there itself. However AAVs and ACVs can't swim all the way from OTH. So they need a ride closer to shore."

      Clearly neither MBTs nor many of the CSE assets can swim....
      And why 6kts 'swimming' APCs are faster than 19kts Connectors needs explaining as well.

      Why degrading Marines combat-effectiveness by forcing them to wallow to shore for 1-2+ hours in an APC turning 'green', all to avoid Connectors your scheme ends up needing anyway ??!!

      Starting this discussion with Amphib-replacement and linking Connectors to the theme remained within the parameters of givens.

      You however want to now
      - add not just new Connectors (which ones would you prefer ?)
      - but also another vessel-type
      - that can neither be carried by Amphibs ,
      - nor can it beach, thus can not deliver much of the MEU at all,
      - while making a fine sizable target 6-12nm from shore ?!

      Will be part of the ARG ?
      Will it run alongside at 22kts+ empty or with APCs loaded ?

      Once you need OTH-200 capable Connectors you don't need FHPs...not that one could afford such a not-even-single-purpose vessel.

      We could indulge ourselves in endless alternate perspectives with all sorts of extra types and endless budgets.

      But once fiscal realities matter, and we've known for decades (really!) that new OTH-200 Connectors have to be developed that maximize well-deck infrastructure and that can support the logistics-needs of the MEU through MEF etc. then why not just focus on well-deck capacity and OTH-200-correct Connectors ?

      And while you emphasized logistics earlier, now you seem to drop the matter and ignore it in favor of new visions of new vessel-types...
      Murky, or should I say muddled ?

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    6. Why do you feel safe to put any sizable vessel "a few miles from shore" ?

      About the "favorite solution" on Connectors,
      from OTH-100 on out
      - LCAC is near impossible delivering MBTs essentially running on fumes in a 200+nm round-trip;
      - Almost so as well, give or take a dozen miles extra range likely for SSC = LCACv.2.0
      - LCU-1610 is too slow and does not maximize on 30' beam the limited real-estate in a 50'-wide well-deck = squats and blocks more efficient usage.
      - L-CAT is fragile, with lots of well-deck foot-print for her carry-capacity of just 1 MBT.

      And B.Smitty - I really like your hair today (oops you forgot one curler...) - except for old-tymey and slow LCU none of LCAC/SSC/L-CAT are frontline-rated. And that is before we talk about their spectacular fuel-burn per MBT-hauled.

      Fuel-supply matters once it is primarily LHD that carries big fuel-tanks. Using LCAC's 16,000+ HP to carry one MBT to shore - if you get there and no one shoots at you in a First Wave... - will quickly reduce available juice. Run the numbers on how quickly LHD will be 'on fumes' once all sorts of go-fast turbine visions are calculated through.

      Which brings us back to the basic hard realities of long well-deck and OTH-200 200-tons Connectors that can deliver in one dark-cycle.

      LCS is being built.

      And no need to plan a Bachelor's Thesis even, since the basic homework has been done already elsewhere.
      Except now we'd want to revise many of these studies under the available reality of a 4-ship ARG and 14 LCU-Fs.

      Suddenly a lot of both numbers but also tactics will start changing/cascading towards significantly different conclusions.

      Taddahh - A Shift in Paradigm' !
      Actually yes.
      Numbers can be so charming...

      Why blue curlers ?

    7. Compared to LCU-1610, LCU-F has a pinch more deck-space, however with 3/4 of that hidden under cover, thus not offering any drone a full invitation on which Connector to focus precision-defenses.

      And LCU-F is the fastest heavy-lift and most stealthy of any Connectors under discussion anywhere.

      Stealth matter when it comes to Connectors:
      - LCAC and SSC have none between impressive visuals and sound-pressure (bleeding ears anyone).
      - LCU-F can exhaust under-water, can run 'super-critical mufflers for her Diesels and offers an air-draft of 11-12 feet on 22' lean beam following hungry lean bow.

      Hard to see, full of (invisible) nasties and with self-defenses.
      I won't argue with that.

    8. On LAVs few would argue that you'd want to take on anyone with just an APC. You need MBTS plus arti etc.

      And are you planning a First Wave with 200 LAV ?
      I don't mind exploring options, but...

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    10. What is wrong with this:
      - OTH-200 means well off-shore out of reach of most shore-based sensors short of fixed wing planes and satellites. And yes local fishing-craft trading-vessel will near comm.-gear jammed/fried.

      - OTH-200 with 4-Vessel ARG/MEU allows about a full FIRST WAVE of about all GCE in one concurrent movement suddenly in one dark-cycle. GCE and most ACE choreograph how and where they arrive to best effect with the MEU's limited punch.
      - At flank-speed Sealift RoRos approach the theater.
      - CSE gets pumped ashore in the next dark-cvcle.
      - With ARG staying well offshore, RoRos arrive to then begin to feed their rolling/tracked payload on to LCU-Fs directly, or on to dry well-decks of Amphibs and then from dry well-deck on to LCU-Fs.
      Up to 200-tons at a time. With the ARG and RoRos well protected by sheer distance.
      - DDG will have joined by now for enhanced air-defense etc,
      - Other Amphibs or just transports arrive with more GCE and troops.
      - LCU-F keeps pumping gear and people.
      Etc. Etc.

      If you need more punch bring two ARG/MEUs and instead of up to 17 landing-locations, really mess with the adversary with 34 - topography and OMFTS-vector depending.

      If you need more yet, choreograph arrival of CSG etc. and really unleash superbly-supported uninterrupted heavy-weight ground-forces with air-support, IFS and full logistics.

      All tis with a plain-vanilla LSD-41-based long well-deck based Amphib-force supported by C2, ACE-assets and hospital etc aboard LPD-17 and LHD.

      Coming in
      - suddenly
      - with pretty much just a lean bow-wave showing,
      - no IR-plumes
      - or mad noise-signatures,
      - never mind clouds of pretty foam
      without predictable vectors per se - except of course likely landing-zones -.

      And if LCU-F show up with IFS suites to 'shape the theater' first not much surprise but possibly a chance for an iron rake clearing the landing region...
      Etc. etc.

      I sure am convinced !

      What's wrong with this simple geometry of force-structure, -capability and -execution, plus on-demand -multiplication ?

  14. GAB,
    We have the MEU and a near endless supply of ships full of supplies to sustain MEU, MEB etc.
    But there are no plausible high-speed heavy-lift means to get either 'light' or 'heavy-weight' MEU/MEB or their Logistics to the shore.

    Starting with the topic of this Thread
    - proposed is 'Doing-a-B-52-on-LSD41'.
    - Doing this offers a 4-ship ARG with 2x LD-41 each offering 440 x 50 well-deck capacity to carry the current MEU and then-some.

    Each LSD-41 can haul 6x LCU-F.
    Even from OTH-200 can LCU-F deliver 200-tons per day.

    Two LSD-41 per ARG equals 12 LCU-F, plus 2x LCU-F on LPD-17, with 3 LCAC on LHD.

    Dedicating 2x LCU-F off LPD-17 for inshore fire-support leaves those 12 for FIRST WAVE and 'endless' Logistics.

    With up to 12 LCU-Fs at 200 tons per day from OTH-200 we see 2400tons max. deliverable per day - which will cover the needs of even an MEF with 17,800 Marines ashore.

    Starting with a sudden strike by MEU, rapid build-up of personnel and materiel are adequately supported.

    As the article pointed out, nobody will loiter on the beach.
    No piles of materiel to be targeted.
    You land LCU-F, you put your vehicles in Drive(Fwd), head out over her stern's ramp and keep rolling...towards the Objective.

    So we have
    - good protection for ARG and Logistics Ships with OTH-200,
    - adequate ship-to-shore hauling capacity with 12 LCU-F to support an MEF,
    - we are proceeding to the Objective without congregating to become fine target etc. etc.

    Plus LCU-F can do IFS, tanker-duty, Bingo-platform for UH/Ah-1/6, MASH, Troop-Transport, Inter-Theater logistics, up-the-river in 6' of water duty etc.

    But you seem to remain dissatisfied with what ?

    No need to quote to me and my family about the rigors of war and losses...

  15. @Trudy

    1. It would help to what I said, and not construe things that I did not say - where did I mention anything remotely connected to your family? I do not know you and you do not know me – lets be civil.

    2. I am not seeing an appreciation for logistical requirements in your argument - 2,400 tons a day is *not a solution* - in fact it isn’t even the start of a solution.

    3. "Landing craft", even large capacity landing craft like the LCAC, are insufficient to support the logistical demands of high intensity operations ashore. Optimizing the gator fleet to carry masses of landing craft of any type likely runs counter to the desired point to point delivery (ship to soldier or marine).

    4. You are quite strident about LCU-F and either unaware of, or have ignored other high speed landing craft solutions that are operational in fleets around the world, or have at least delivered prototypes (e.g. LCU-1U, PASCAT, L-CAT, UHAC, etc.). I have no financial or personal interest in any of them, but I am always wary that others may be. In the end, none of these are assault craft, nor do they solve the rather significant logistics challenges that face a modern amphibious operation.

    5. There is no “endless supply of ships” and no amphibious ship in the inventory has the capability to for transferring ISO containers from ship-to-ship and then ship-to-shore or bulk fuel from ship-to-shore. This is a long standing issue called out by logisticians, the National Academies of Sciences, and others. Ergo, the Marines and Navy can do nothing without massive augmentation from the MSC strategic sealift forces, which is shameful compared to the ARGs of the 1980s.


  16. GAB,
    while I am intrigued by opportunities offered by LCU-F, you prefer the sceptic posture with due references to various source that seem to give you pause.
    Familiar with not all but a fair number of the sources you quote, I'll just paraphrase what I've stated already elsewhere here:
    - These studies all depend upon studying, evaluating and contextualizing known hardware, respective operational specifics and of course fiscal constraints if not also arbitrary doctrinal constraints.
    - They can not remain a solid guide in all respects if certain long-standing technological constraints may no longer hold true - such as the opportunities that come with long-range high-speed heavy-lift Connectors organic to the ARG/MEU.

    Could you elaborate on why 2,400 tons is not even a start to a logistical solution towards sustaining advancing Marines ashore ? One of these studies stated less than that for an MEF of what 17,000+ troops ?

    As to other Connectors, none of these can be carried organic to the ARG flotilla in the numbers and the payload-capacity of LCU-F. Feel free to correct this observation.

    Of course do Amphibs have the capacity to transfer ISO-20 containers under the motto - 'if it rolls we'll transfer and haul it to shore':
    - 'In anger' MTVR/8x8/10x10 serve that purpose.
    - In somewhat calmer circumstances can ISO-20 boxes accept attachment of off-road-capable axles front and back for towing behind whatever tractor. LCU-F could thus have at least 4 such - 3 inside and one on her afterdeck to be towed one-by-one out of her once at the somewhat calmer beach.

    As outlined to B.Smitty elsewhere, as intended with the design of the MEU you'd invade suddenly from well offshore, start with that comparatively limited 'tip of the spear', to then scale things up as necessary, all the way to the 'near' endless supply of supplies via MSC and other transports.

    Perhaps your concerns about "shameful" state of MSC forces could be addressed once LCU-F and long-well-deck Amphibs would for the first time in generations make such an exceedingly dangerous enterprise as a MEU landing on someone else's territory reasonably planable, war-game-able.

    Once the ARG/MEU is significantly 'enabled', the next step should be addressing your concerns in order to feed that Connector-based conveyor/pipeline of troops, materiel and consumables to the shore - until a suitable harbor can be secured free of mortars, snipers, IEDs, etc.

  17. @Trudy: "Of course do Amphibs have the capacity to transfer ISO-20 containers under the motto - 'if it rolls we'll transfer and haul it to shore':"


    Kindly point to the LPD, LSD or LHD that has a ship deck crane capable of picking up a 20' ISO container from another ship and transferring it.

    What about weather and its impact on well deck operations given Sea State 3+ occurs over 37% of the time during a Korean Summer, and 67% of the time during a Korean winter?

    I presume you are intending on using SIXCON FSMs to transfer fuel ship to shore, but I am curious about how you plan to drag them off LCACs or whatever, through a surf zone, and load them onto fuel trucks given they weigh about 4.5 tons wet? How many LVSRs or HEMTTS are you planning to bring? Just how fast you think that this can be done and how does that impact your plan?

    AABFS? OPDS? Nowhere to be found in the gator fleet…


  18. Kindly I'll attest to the fact, that the LSD-41 types I've been on have both 20-tons and 60-tons cranes.

    The 20-tons unit is likely good enough for a 20-foot box, assuming nobody just robbed Fort Knox and hid it in a USN-Box. When in doubt use the big'n across on the other side of the ship.

    The well-deck gantry is good for 30-tons I was told by one of the guys knowing the specs, 'fit to lift AAV7s he claimed.

    But why crane-lift boxes at sea with wave-action and swells to get things going all over the place. Seems better to roll the box.

    I'd leave everything from hoses over pumps to wheeled tankers to the good folks in charge of the CSE. They see to it that their roster of gear is adequate.

    CSE, including the RTCH, is indeed part of the assault, right after all of GCE is ashore. You never mentioned how the RTCH is routinely tossing about those 20-foot ISO-boxes. RTCH/Rough Terrain Container Handler - a good-sized 14+' high Caterpillar articulated front-loader, just olive instead of Cat-Yellow.

    As to sea-state, that indeed dictates well-deck ops. Even with actively-balanced RoRo-ramps there is an upper limit rolling things from one ship to the other. But vehicles have suspensions to absorb odd movements, and things are dicier in the middle of the advancing GCE anyway.

    You seem to now have a second item to take care of:
    - 1. state of MSC fleet, and
    - 2. whatever you think is missing from the gator fleet.

    Sharing burdens is a good thing. I for one explore LCU-F...

  19. @Trudy

    Are you suggesting that you would risk an entire landing force by depending on container forklifts driving out into the surf zone to pick up 30-ton containers? Ignore getting stuck, tip-overs, etc; how long do you think the hydraulics will hold out in 24-7 operations dashing through saltwater? LSVRs or HEMTTS with PLS - maybe, but container forklifts …? Really?

    Seriously, the LCU-F *concept* has a beam of 22 feet and an overhead - it is just wide enough for an M-1 Abrams tank. Ergo a 20 foot ISO container will only fit in length-wise, which means a container forklift will be unable to grab the container, even if the cargo deck were open. I also believe that the proposed LCU has too low of an overhead for a 20' or 40' container to fit in.

    But why would you even consider this when AABFS could deliver up to 600 gallons of fuel a minute?

    LSD-41s do not have cranes that can offload of even a 5,000 TEU (PANAMAX) containership to pier due to a lack of lifting capacity, as well as, insufficient reach. You need a *pair* of tall, 110 or 120-ton pedestal deck cranes with a reach of ~35 meters (105 feet). LSD-41s have a low mounted 60-ton crane, and even smaller 20-ton crane that are not up to snuff (cranes are rated at max capacity, but this drops rapidly the farther out the crane has to reach). Intermodal containers have a gross weight of up to 30.4 metric tons.

    All of this demonstrates why precisely why MSC ships are required to support any ground force ashore – the fleet and FMF are not up to the job.


  20. Not sure why you are conjuring these images.
    I will not argue with you how CSE moves its stuff.
    We already touched on how containers can be made to roll.
    If MTVRs fit, so will 8'6" high containers on axles for instance.

    It seems that you now have a third item to put on the list:
    - Availability of clean intact non-dangerous port-facilities with adequate draft to bring in a 40-60,000tons MSC vessel.
    No doubt desirable, however quite unlikely.

    Which leaves you with what - beyond arguing for or against what exactly ?

  21. ... ah, the smell of fresh coconut-cookies in the house...
    Being invited elsewhere has me have just the fun.
    GAB, I have a few extra !

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, B.Smitty, and of course CNO.

    So, GAB, you think that Electric Boat lets us make off with some of that non-magnetic submarine-steel for a batch of LCU-F for MCM-duty ??...

  22. Dept.: "Great Minds Think Alike"

    Here more on this LXR topic from the current Dec.'15 PROCEEDINGS in the Comments and Discussion section:

    Is there momentum building towards a review of these Amphib- and Connector-Selection processes since they appear to be rather (self-) destructive in their outcomes ?

  23. I could NOT figure out how to insert a reply where I wanted so here goes several comments:
    @BSmitty who said: "IMHO, the Marine "all singing, all dancing, everything but the kitchen sink" MAGTF concept needs to go on a diet." A SES I know who worked on amphib lift with Marines, said wisely: The Marines will ALWAYS ask for the most possible platform, and settle for what they get.
    Having sailed in several ARGs that were larger in ship numbers, I HAVE to ask this question: Why only three ship to an ARG??? Seems to me trying to cram the larger tactical equipment cargo consist into ONLY 3 hulls complicates the problem, and by spreadloading the rqd lift over four hulls one not only reduces the ship size but also provides more fleixibility i.e. more hulls in more locations to do less than full blown assaults. I won't get into the tactical aspects of targeting only 3 HVTs~

    Note that the MPSRONs have been spreadloaded for about 15 years now.

    1. "I won't get into the tactical aspects of targeting only 3 HVTs~"

      leesea, I think this is an even more important aspect than loading considerations or task splitting. You're right to bring it up. Our WWII forefathers had it right to spread the risk among many dozens of ships. WWII commanders would have cringed at the thought of one third of the force in a single ship.


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