Monday, December 10, 2018

Amphibious Assault Fuel Logistics

We have often discussed the various aspects of Marine Corps amphibious assaults.  All too often, though, we tend to focus on the shiny pieces like MV-22s, F-35Bs, AAVs, amphibious ships, LCACs, etc. without really paying much attention to the far more important logistics requirements.  It doesn’t matter if you can seize a beach or airfield if you can’t get fuel, water, ammo, food, etc. to the troops and their vehicles.  Think Defence website has done a few extensive posts on amphibious assault logistics and engineering over the years including the recent UK amphibious assault overview (1,3).  These are highly recommended reading.

Let’s build on our previous posts and take a look at the Navy (USN) and Marine’s (USMC) amphibious assault fuel logistics.  It is worth noting that the Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) notional fuel requirement during an assault is over 1.2M gallons per day! (2, p.4-3)  For the purposes of this discussion, we’ll be concerned only with the movement of fuel from offshore to land.  The storage, transport, and distribution of fuel after it has gotten ashore is a ground operation and not part of our assault logistics operation, per se.

For starters, there is a division of labor and responsibilities.

“The Navy is responsible for getting bulk fuel to the beach high water mark where the fuel is received by Army or Marine Corps bulk fuel units.” (2, p.2-3)

Beyond that, there are a few different systems for fuel handling: 

  • USN - Offshore Petroleum Discharge System (OPDS)
  • USN - Amphibious Assault Bulk Fuel System (AABFS)
  • USMC – Tactical Fuel System (TFS)

Offshore Petroleum Discharge System (OPDS)

The OPDS system consists of the bulk fuel carrier (tanker) and the associated pumps, hoses (bottom lying), and equipment necessary to transfer the bulk fuel from the ship to a shore receiving station.  The tanker is equipped with booster pumps and spread mooring winches, a recoverable single-anchor leg mooring (SALM) to accommodate four tankers up to 70,000 DWT, ship to SALM hose lines, up to four miles of six-inch diameter conduit for pumping to the beach, and two beach termination units (BTU) to interface with the shoreside systems. (2, p.3-8)

For example, SS Petersburg (T-AOT-9101) is a tanker built in 1963 and is one of five such tankers fitted with the OPDS.  The ship has a capacity of 225,000 barrels of JP8 fuel.  

The system can support fuel transfer rates of up to 1.2M gallons per day (1000 GPM for a 20 hour operating day).  Note that capacity limit is exactly the same as the MEF notional fuel requirement for an assault.  If the usage is even slightly higher than anticipated (and usage is always significantly higher than anticipated!) or if losses occur (it’s a peer opposed assault so of course there will be losses!) then the fuel transfer capacity will be insufficient to sustain the assault.  

If the tanker is located within two miles of shore, dual transfer lines can be set up to further increase the transfer rate. (2, p.3-8)  However, this increases the risk to the entire system by being closer to the enemy.  Recall that Navy doctrine is keep ships 25-50+ miles offshore so setting up critical tankers within 2 miles of shore seems completely counter to doctrine.  The Navy doesn’t think an Aegis/Burke can survive 2 miles from shore so how will a tanker survive?

Apparently there are very few OPDS equipped ships.  I’ve seen reports of up to five such ships but I’ve only been able to document one existing ships:  USNS Wheeler.  I suspect that the others, if they existed, have been retired.

OPDS Wheeler

Amphibious Assault Bulk Fuel System (AABFS)

“The AABFS provides a fuel line from the supplying ship to the high water mark ashore where the fuel lines are connected to shore-based bulk fuel systems of the landing force. The AABFS consists of buoyant, 6-inch (diameter) reinforced rubber hose lines up to 10,000 feet in length. Two or more buoyant lines can be connected to achieve greater distances between the ship and the shoreline. However, they require floating booster stations to perform fuel transfer when the distance is more than 5,000 feet. Buoyant hose systems are employed to support the initial phases of amphibious landings. An AABFS can be installed in 4 to 6 hours under favorable surf conditions.”

Tactical Fuel System (TFS)

“The Marine Corps family of TFSs [tactical fuel systems] was originally designed and deployed in the 1950s to replace the 55-gallon drum and 5-gallon fuel can as the primary method for MARFOR’s bulk fuel support. The basic design of collapsible fuel tanks, trailer mounted pumps, fuel hoses and valves, filtration vessels, and miscellaneous components has provided a solid foundation for the evolution of the family of TFSs to meet the ever changing operational and tactical fuel support requirements of the MAGTF. Today the family of TFSs provides a wide range of storage tank sizes ranging from 500-gallon to 50,000-gallon capacities with receipt and pumping rates ranging from 125 gallons per minute (GPM) to 600 GPM.” (2, p.3-1)

Amphibious Assault Fuel System (AAFS)

The AAFS is the largest TFS and is used to receive, store, transfer, and dispense bulk fuel to all elements of a MAGTF including distribution by hose line to airfields. Fuel can be supplied to the system by almost any source, ships included.  System storage capacity is 1.12M gals and is stored in the systems six tank farms. 

“The AAFS has approximately 5 miles of 6-inch assault hose and uses 600-GPM pumping capabilities. Using quick-connect, cam-lock fittings, the AAFS can be assembled without tools and is compatible with the other Marine Corps TFSs.” (2)

The AAFS consists of six subunit assemblies (2): 

  • Beach unloading assembly – receives bulk fuel from offshore sources
  • Receiving assembly – accepts fuel from any source
  • Two booster stations – used when the distance between storage stations exceeds the systems pumping capacity
  • Two adapting assemblies – adapts the system to provide connection to other systems via common and compatible hardware
  • Two dispensing assemblies – dispense fuel
  • Six tank farms – provides the systems storage capacity

Other Tactical Fuel Systems include, 

  • Tactical Airfield Fuel Dispensing System
  • Expedient Refueling System
  • Helicopter Expedient Refueling System
  • Six Containers Together (SIXCON)

We won’t examine these because they all begin their conceptual operation with the assumption that the fuel has already reached land and been distributed to the various systems for further distribution to individual units.

Having grasped the basic concept of fuel transfer from ship to shore, we can see some important considerations.  Systems require the fuel supply tankers to operate within a few miles of the beach.  This is at odds with Navy doctrine calling for all ships to stay 25-50+ miles out to sea.  There are several implications, here.

  •  A fuel delivery system cannot be set up until the landing area, meaning a 25-50+ mile radius inland as well as out to sea, has been secured and rendered reasonably safe from enemy fire.
  • Bulk fuel delivery cannot occur during initial assault efforts and may be significantly delayed if the assault landing site cannot be quickly secured.  Thus, it is more than conceivable that an assault could falter due to lack of fuel while the landing site is being contested.
  • The fuel transfer starting points and ships/equipment are at fixed locations and will present attractive, vulnerable targets.  As such, they represent a single point of failure for the entire assault – kill the fuel pumping point and you kill the assault.  
  • With only two OPDS ships, we have a significant vulnerability in our amphibious assault capability.  If one or both of these ships were sunk, our over-the-beach assault capability is effectively neutralized.

The overall conclusion from all this is the same as we’ve seen time after time.  Navy leadership is so focused on the shiny, sexy, new, Burkes and Fords that it is ignoring the logistics and support ships that actually make a fleet a viable instrument of war.  We need to refocus and start designing a fleet that can actually fight and that means a lot more support vessels.  Who cares whether we have a 355 ship fleet if we can’t support them?


(1)Think Defence website, “UK Amphibious Capability – Today and Tomorrow”, 15-Apr-2017,

(2)USMC, “Petroleum and Water Logistics Operations”, MCWP 4-11.6, Jun 2005, p2-3

(3)Think Defence website, “US Amphibious Logistics”,


  1. Perhaps a special variant LCAC that can come ashore to protected FARPS for a quick transfer of fuel?

    1. You might want to run the math on that. An LCAC can carry, perhaps, a few dozen 55 gal drums (or a lesser number of bladders or some such). That would be around 2000 gal of fuel, if in drums. I don't know how many bladders or what the total fuel load would be but the point is that LCACs are woefully insufficient for supplying the fuel needs of an assault. It would take forever to load and unload. So, maybe a couple thousand gallons every several hours?

      Remember, we're talking about a large scale assault.

      Now, for a one time, very small effort, sure.

    2. Actually, the Navy have several bulk fuel concepts that include available fuels systems (Bladders, SIXCON, etc.) on an LCAC. The fuel provided is significantly more than 2000 gal and since the fuel is a relatively light load for an LCAC, they can feed the beach at a rate of an LCAC load per 3 hours. Very large bulk loads require the LCAC to stay on the beach while discharging which is a vulnerability.

    3. " feed the beach at a rate of an LCAC load per 3 hours."

      Why don't you do the math on the supply rate and see how it measures up to the woefully underestimated 1.2M gal/day that even the Marines say they need?

      You're being very optimistic about a load every 3 hrs! For a stand off of 50 miles, say, the one way trip time is an hour. That's two hours travel, there and back. Unloading is going to take time, as you note - say another hour. Then the returning LCAC needs to be reloaded - again, another hour or more. Throw in maintenance needs for the tempermental LCACs and the cycle time looks to be more like several hours on any kind of a sustained basis.

      Run some numbers and let us know what you find.

    4. The nominal capacity of an LCAC is 60 tons and 75 tons in an overloaded condition. A 55 gallon drum of diesel weighs about 450 lbs. Let's assume 500 lbs per drum to account for fixtures to hold the drums in place during transit. Assuming space isn't an issue, at nominal capacity, an LCAC could carry 240 55-gallon drums, which is equivalent to 13,200 gallons of diesel. Still not much to support a major assault.

      The M969 refueling tankers carry 5,000 gallons of fuel and weigh 25 tons fully loaded. Under nominal capacity, an LCAC could carry 2 tankers with capacity for other equipment. At overload capacity and assuming space isn't an issue, an LCAC could carry 3 tankers. In actuality, probably three slightly less than fully loaded tankers. Eventually, some fuel will be brought in on tankers so it can be transported to the front that much faster.

    5. "an LCAC could carry 240 55-gallon drums"

      Almost certainly not. If I've followed your thought process correctly, you've taken the cargo weight capacity of the LCAC (60 tons = 120,000 lbs) and divided it by the 500 lb/drum figure to give 240 drums. While arithmetically correct, the reality of loading would probably limit the LCAC to a single layer of drums (no stacked drums). So, the actual drum loading would be the LCAC loading area divided by the loading area for a single drum (probably around 16 sq.ft. to allow for securing). I don't have the loadable area of an LCAC but it looks to be something on the order of 50 ft x 30 ft. That would give a drum loading of around 94 drums. It all depends how they're loaded and secured.

      Regardless, as you noted, it's not a lot of fuel to support a major assault. For a load of 10,000 gal (to round to an easy number), you'd need 120 LCAC unloads per day. Assuming a cycle time of 6 hours (transit time both ways, loading, and unloading), that translates to needing 30 LCACs operating continuously. For perspective, a MEU/ARG has around 3-4 LCACs. I don't know what a MEF would have or how they would be transported to the area or serviced since only a few amphibs are capable of handling LCACs.

      Throw in practical aspects like LCACs lined up, waiting to get to the few (tanker? cargo? amphibs?) to get their fuel and the operation gets further bogged down. Trying to unload and move hundreds of individual drums off the beach would be another nightmare. Tanker trucks would, of course, be easier but quick math shows a need for 240 tanker trucks PER DAY needed. Doesn't seem possible.

      And, of course, all of this assumes that the enemy cooperates by not attriting any of our LCACs!

      Seems clear that we really need to seize a proper port or develop more and better OPDS systems.

    6. "So, the actual drum loading would be the LCAC loading area divided by the loading area for a single drum (probably around 16 sq.ft. to allow for securing)."

      A standard 55-gallon drum is 22.5 inches in diameter and 33.5 inches in height. Each drum takes up 2.75 square feet of deck space. We could probably secure 4 to 5 barrels inside of 16 square feet. And, given their height, we ought to be able to double stack them.

      But, bringing fuel ashore in barrels is not very efficient and not the best use of an LCAC.

      "Seems clear that we really need to seize a proper port or develop more and better OPDS systems."

      We obviously need a better OPDS system as you've outlined. But, any major landing is likely to be near a port city. On D-Day, we landed between the port cities of Cherbourg and La Harve.

    7. Having handled 55-gal drums, I've come to have great respect for their weight and momentum when shifting and the damage that an out of control drum can do! I find it hard to imagine that drums would ever be stacked more than one-high. The potential for disaster is enormous on a maneuvering, pitching, high speed craft that is going to suddenly stop at the beach.

      That same pitching, maneuvering stress is going to require very substantial tie down arrangements. Again, I can't imagine loading drums that aren't individually secured - and strongly so! That means about one per 16 sq.ft. Study the tie downs for an aircraft on a carrier and bear in mind that's when you have access to tie points UNDER the plane. Now, figure out how to secure a drum that has no tie down attachments. Each attachment (whatever form that might take) would require being place a couple of feet angled out from the drum - hence, my estimate of 16 sq.ft.

      Regardless, we're discussing a non-existent, hypothetical situation. No is going to attempt to supply an assault via 55-gal drums!

      You're quite correct about the ports and D-Day. Not many people realize that the ports were the actual objectives! We recognized that to sustain a major assault on Europe we had to have fully functioning ports for unloading the thousands of ships that would eventually follow.

  2. Are we going to get that modern armor thickness article anytime soon? I’d be interested to hear about your ideas on Cruiser and BB protection. Also quick question on your fleet structure list it says in BB’s twelve CIWS guns. In single mounts or dual mounts? I’m just saying that’s a lot of CIWS.

  3. It's on the list!

    "a lot of CIWS"?????? Not even close. If anything, it should be more. A battleship is supposed to be the closest thing we can design to being untouchable and invincible. A WWII Iowa class had 80x 40 mm and 49x 20 mm guns, which were the WWII equivalent of CIWS.

    A modern battleship should be able to stand up to heavy missile attacks and laugh. For that, you're going to want as much ESSM and CIWS as you can pack in. Now that you have me thinking about it, the CIWS should be around 20 or 30! Any missile that approaches should be greeted with as literal a wall of bullets as possible.

    1. You know what I’d name these new battleships? The Montana clas obviously and start where we left off with Montana, Ohio, Maine, New Hampshire, and Louisiana. Maybe Illinois or Kentucky as well.

    2. Unfortunately, many of those names are unavailable. Submarines are now named for states.

    3. What would be your suggestions then?

    4. Battleships are supposed to fight - if you had to rename battleships, I'd prefer important Revolutionary War or Civil War battles. Saratoga, Lexington, Gettysburg. etc.

      Or if you wanted to make a nod back to history, then the Original Six Frigates would be good options: Constellation, President, United States, Cheasapeake, Congress, and Constitution.

      Well... maybe only Constitution.

    5. @Dio Brando: if money was no object, I'd go for an attempt at an American take on Kashtan. I'd use the 21-cell RAM launcher, pair it with a CIWS, and slave the launcher to the CIWS' sensor dome; you get twice as many point defense missiles vs SeaRAM and you save on the cost of a sensor dome. So now you have ESSM for engagement at the radar horizon (25-30km), RAM for point defense (8km) and CIWS shooting out at 2km.

    6. "I'd go for an attempt at an American take on Kashtan."

      No, the Kashtan is a poor conceptual design. The missile reload process is long, on a relative basis (several seconds or more), and it takes the entire mount out of operation while doing so.

      An American version with a RAM might avoid the reload issue but it still ties two different weapon systems into a single sensor that was not designed for the role. The longer range RAM target tracking may conflict with the shorter range CIWS continual tracking requirement and, to the best of my knowledge, the CIWS radar is a one-at-a-time sensor. This also brings up the issue of weapon direction. The CIWS may be trying to rotate the mount to engage a close target while the longer range RAM wants to rotate the mount in a different direction. Again, the two systems were not designed to work together.

      It is certainly possible to design a combined system but it would no longer be a quick, easy, bolt together system and would likely become a complicated, expensive developmental effort.

      A combined system dilutes and degrades the abilities of each individual system. Better to leave them alone. Even better is to substitute SeaRAM for RAM.

    7. In WWII many medium calibre guns had both an anti surface and anti air role. There where also many land based large calibre anti air weapons the 88 for example. Do modern medium guns still have an anti air role? A 5inch gun throwing clouds of shrapnel into the path of an ASM seems like a good idea but is there a technical reason why this is not done? Since there are 57/76mm guns marketed as CIWSs it must be possible with larger guns. Apologies if I am missing something obvious.

    8. No modern gun of large caliber is claimed to be anti-air. The speeds of modern aircraft/missiles is just to great to engage with slow firing guns.

      Even 57/76 mm guns which are claimed to be anti-air capable are not except in a very limited set of circumstances (slow, straight target). No one believes they can engage in anti-air effectively.

      However, the idea of large caliber, air-burst, anti-air projectiles is not new and there is no technical reason why they couldn't work. I don't know why they haven't been pursued other than the obvious - there are no large caliber guns!

    9. Thank you for clearing that up. I must admit I am never sure what to believe when reading the claims manufacturers make about their weapon systems. If manufacturers are to be believed then there offensive missiles are unstoppable and there defences are unbreechable. At least one of those statements has to be wrong. As 57/76mm guns are not effective as CIWS are other fast firing gun based CIWS effective? Phalanx, Goelkeeper etc? I do not think that there is much information in the public domain regarding the effectiveness of CIWSs but it is an incredibly interesting topic as it seems so vital to the survivability of any vessel. Including the ASW corvette idea that you propose, which I wholeheartedly agree with.

    10. "A combined system dilutes and degrades the abilities of each individual system. Better to leave them alone. Even better is to substitute SeaRAM for RAM."

      I was trying to have my cake an eat it, by having a bit more point defense engagement band while saving on the money a little. :V SeaRAM and CIWS use the same sensor dome, so theoretically if you setup the gun and missiles on a combo linked turret you could have one sensor dome spotting targets for missile launch at 8km out, then shifting to continuous guidance for CIWS intercept at 2km.

      ...on the other hand, if you've got a point in that one goes with just getting more CIWS and SeaRAM mounts, that would indeed be the simpler solution because you don't need any developement time, you just grab them and install, with the only question being the density and ratios (equal ammounts? 2 SeaRAM for 1 CIWS? 1 RAM for 2 CIWS?).

      @Michael J: The problem with using gun for missile defense is that the gun is firing an unguided round on a ballistic path at where the FCS *thinks* the missile will be , and the problem with gun is that as caliber goes up, rate of fire goes down; but otoh smaller guns, while having high ROF, have lower lethality. Thales and OTO Melara talk up guided rounds for 76mm and 127mm guns, but those are still unpowered ballistic rounds that are inherently losing energy in flight.

      Point defense missiles like RAM are more expensive, but on the other hand RAM is flying towards the incoming missile, and can course correct because it maintains powered flight throughout launch till intercept, and RAM allows you to fire at multiple incoming missiles from further out than autocannons can effectively engage.

    11. Correction, the full sentence should read "...if you do that, ou've got a point in that one goes with just getting more CIWS and SeaRAM mounts, that would indeed be the simpler solution.."

  4. And what would you call the class?

  5. Freedom or Independence Class. Retire the LCS ships, use them for target practice and build ships worthy of the names.

  6. Bunker Barges could help.

    1. Yep, there's some possibility there. The capacities and discharge rates look good. The question is time/difficulty of setting up an offshore discharge point during an active assault. Looks doable, though.

    2. Sure, it beats sending an even larger ship into harms way, but this still conflicts with the OTH amphibious assault doctrine. Unless we load these barges (and/or their escorts...) with CIWS, seaRAM, and ESSM (not to mention MCM) we're still just donating artificial reefs to the enemy coastline, not solving fuel logistics.

      Maybe that's the solution though, float enough defensive weapons near shore that we can actually operate there without taking it as a given that any platforms we put there will be blown out of the water/sky/sand. Seems to be in line with CNOps thinking on the ridiculousness of OTH amphibious assault.

    3. "ridiculousness of OTH amphibious assault."

      If you want a piece of territory, you have to stand on it. You can't seize a fort from 50 miles away - you have to enter the fort. If you want a beachfront you have to stand in the water and fight for it.

      Now, bear in mind that the kind of fuel logistics we're talking about is for the SUSTAINMENT portion of the assault by which time we've hopefully carved out a safe zone closer to the beach. However, given the range of cruise and ballistic missiles against what would essentially be a fixed point, I'm not sure there's ever going to be a safe zone. This leads us back to my theories on anti-air defense.

  7. The Navy is spending its R&D budget with the Office of Naval Research (ONR) / Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) to fast-track development of its new AI UMV Navy's "Ghost Fleet Overlord program" where multiple surface, air and undersea drones operate in a synchronized fashion to conduct a wide-range of combat missions without placing sailors and marines at risk which amongst many missions will deliver supplies with LSUVs.

    Equipping boats with Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command and Sensing, CARACaS, are engineered to provide USVs with an ability to handle dynamic operational situations with its sophisticated perception engine which senses the presence of other vessels using a combination of sensors, radar, cameras and processing algorithms to perceive their environment and plan their routes without human intervention. With sensors to see and sense a common picture for route planning, hazard avoidance and collision prevention using advanced communications and networking technologies.

    "Higher tech enemy sensors and longer range surface and land-fired weapons have drastically increased the vulnerability of approaching amphibious assault operations, making them more susceptible to enemy fire. As a result, the Navy and Marines have been evolving amphibious tactics to include more disaggregated approaches designed to spread out an approaching force, making it more difficult for enemy weapons to attack an advancing assault. For example, the Iwo Jima attack in the Pacific during WWII, an historic amphibious assault, involved a group of Marines approaching enemy shores in close proximity to one another; weapons, Marines, equipment and attacking infantry all came ashore in rapid succession."

    If the last paragraph reflects current thinking of Navy/Marines of a disaggregated landings (making big assumption there are enough suitable landing sites on coastline and warships to protect spread out fleet) what are the chances of establishing a bridgehead of suitable size with small numbers of marines as they will not be concentrated on single point to establish a safe zone of necessary size to protect the tankers. Dec.10, 2018

    1. The problem is if they are so small, aren't they easier to track down and be eliminated? maybe not if they somehow manage to all be within reach and provide some kind of mutual coverage/support BUT them all being small, support will be limited....not sure how this helps for fuel since you still have a big choke point with the limited number of OPDS ships. Plus, one could argue that with so much dispersal of forces, doesn't it mean YOU NEED EVEN MORE FUEL?

    2. " limited number of OPDS ships"

      You've got it! A single mine or SSK can stop an assault dead in its tracks by sinking the OPDS.

    3. "multiple surface, air and undersea drones operate in a synchronized fashion"

      This is typical Navy mental masturbation. This may make for a wonderful PowerPoint presentation but has little high end combat use.

  8. I may be mistaken, but aren't drones, susceptible to ECM ? Wouldn't a major power be able to jam signals or the like ?

    In all seriousness, does the military in general, think our potential allies will just drop their weapons and run ?

    Having worked in a shipyard at one time, I often wondered, was the purpose of the yard to help get some Captain his Stars ?

  9. I can't help but come to the conclusion that an opposed landing (except in the most extremely favorable circumstances) is a suicide mission.

    But so what? There's still room for small "raids" against vulnerable targets, humanitarian landings, relief and reinforcement landings when supply lines are stretched, and most importantly; large scale landings anywhere the enemy either doesn't expect a landing, or can't afford the forces to secure a beach. Ie shitty terrain and beaches.

    Perhaps the Marines could optimize for rough terrain and better mobility. Perhaps they could take a lesson from the rangers that climbed Point Du Hoc to get to their objectives. Perhaps the Marines could remember that the allies landed at Normandy because hitting Pas De Calais would have been a suicide mission.

    We've got to stop dreaming about recreating Iwo Jima and Tarawa. Land where the enemy isn't. Land where they don't expect you to.

    1. "Land where the enemy isn't. Land where they don't expect you to"

      There's a problem with that. "Where the enemy isn't" is usually because there's nothing there worth defending. Sure, we could attack Russia (just to pick on someone other than the Chinese!) and achieve total surprise by landing in some remote corner of Siberia. There wouldn't be any enemy but there wouldn't be anything worth capturing there, either!

      In today's world of war the situation is even more difficult. Just because there are no enemy troops at a given location doesn't mean there are no enemy. Huh? What does that mean? It means that with hosts of cruise and ballistic missiles, an enemy doesn't need to be present to defend a landing site. In WWII, weapons were short ranged and the enemy did need to be at the landing site to defend. Today, the enemy can rain missiles and very long range artillery on a site and not have a soldier within hundred miles of it.

      The "land where they aren't" is kind of a myth unless you land so far away as to be useless.

    2. "still room for small "raids" against vulnerable targets, humanitarian landings, relief and …"

      And that gets to the heart of the matter. Is it worth the cost of maintaining a complete Marine Corps, a third air force (the Marine's), and a fleet of 30+ multi-billion dollar amphibious ships just to be able to do raids and humanitarian missions? We can accomplish low end raids, now, without the amphibious fleet. We have Army Rangers and similar units that can deploy anywhere in the world in a matter of hours using Air Force transport.

      Maintaining a full Marine Corps and amphibious fleet is a tough argument to make without a full fledged assault need.

  10. Marine Corps as it is, is a waste. Needs to be trimmed down to maybe three specialist amphib assault brigades along with all airborne and special warfare units as anew new branch of service. The Russians are already looking at doing this. You would still draw other assets from the other services such as air and sea transport.

  11. I would argue that the ability to relieve and reinforce from friendly beaches would make amphibian capabilities worth it. You can't rely on having a friendly air or sea port facility near where you need your people/vehicles/fuel.

    If the Marines could land a sizeable and capable force on a bare beach with no infrastructure... even if that beach was being held by a small freindly force, or a bunch of island villagers in need of a security force,a field hospital, and a water treatment facility, would that not be a capability worth maintaining?

    Unfortunately, that's not the current marine force. They want to fly Ospreys and LCACs into the Pas De Calais while Zumwalts' rain imaginary artillery shells onto the Atlantic Wall.

    1. "a security force,a field hospital, and a water treatment facility, would that not be a capability worth maintaining? "

      That is but that is a capability on the very low end of the combat scale - arguably, non-combat activity - and begs the question, why maintain a large Marine Corps and 30+ multi-billion dollar amphibious ships for small, uncontested landings?

  12. It’s actually worse than you think: there is only *one* OPDS vessel, the Wheeler. The Fast Tempo is just a crew boat.

    1. After some more investigation, it would appear that you are correct. I've corrected and updated the post. Thanks for the assist.

    2. You are correct Sir, there is only ONE OPDS, the USNS Wheeler in operation today. The surviving second OPDS, the SS Petersburg, remains part of the MARAD Ready Reserve Fleet in Suisun Bay, California. Built in 1963, I realistically don't see it supporting any amphibious assault landings.


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