With the combatant commanders’ demands for amphibious ships greatly exceeding the xisting supply, the Navy and Marine Corps
are analyzing a wide array of vessels not normally associated with amphibious operations to serve as alternative platforms to augment the “gator” force.
Virtually all of these prospective alternative gators are
auxiliaries and supply vessels operated by Military Sealift
Command (MSC) and crewed by civilian mariners,
which raises a number of legal and operational questions
on what kinds of missions these noncombatants could
perform and whether they will be armed.
“We recognize these are not warfighting ships. There is
a reason why we have amphibious ships, with the protec-
tion associated with amphibious ships,” Marine Corps
Commandant Gen Joseph F. Dunford Jr. said at the Navy
League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition in April. “I think it’s
fair to say that all platforms deployed, including amphibi-
ous ships, need to be brought into the broader protection
of the fleet, and that integration is
going to be important.”
But, he said, “I still think, in the
context of the requirement for over
In the guidance, Dunford noted that, while amphibs
“provide the most capable and flexible means of
deploying and employing Marines across the range of
military operations,” there are insufficient numbers to
meet requirements. “I do not expect that situation to
change for many years to come,” he wrote.
As EF21 emphasizes, he continued, the sea services
need to “augment amphibious warships by adapting
other vessels for sea-based littoral operations. We will
aggressively develop concepts of employment for alter-
native platforms that are consistent with mission
requirements and platform capabilities.”
Those concepts are being developed by the
Alternative Platform and Payload Council, which is co-
chaired by the director of the Strategic Mobility and
Combat Logistics Division, Senior Executive Service
official Scott DiLisio, and the director of Expeditionary
Warfare, Marine MajGen Robert S. Walsh.
Navy, Marine Corps look at a variety of platforms
to meet the growing need for amphibious shipping
By OTTO KREISHER, Special Correspondent
Noting a requirement for more than 50 amphibious ships, but a
projected inventory of no more than 33 into the next decade,
Marine Corps Commandant Gen Joseph F. Dunford Jr. said “we
have to take a look at what tools are available to us to try to
somehow mitigate that gap.”
■ Concepts to augment the amphibious fleet are being developed by the Alternative Platform and Payload Council.
■ Among the ships under consideration are new Military Sealift
Command-run mobile landing platform ships and the Afloat
Forward Staging Base, which is a variant using the same hull, and
the joint high-speed vessel.
■ Less familiar candidates include Large, Medium-Speed Roll-on/Roll-off supply ships, T-AKE dry cargo transport ships, Cape
M-class heavy-lift ships and Aviation Logistics Support Ships.
SPECIAL REPORT / LITTORAL & BROWN-WATER OPS