ter or Ospreys to the Marines ashore
as needed. That eliminated the time-consuming and vulnerable buildup
of an “iron mountain” of material
early in an amphibious operation.
A concept of employment also is
being considered for a Connectors
Station Ship to provide potentially
scores of additional LCACs or
landing craft for an amphibious
mission, Strock said.
That concept would use the Cape
M-class heavy-lift ships, Cape May
and Cape Mohican, normally used to
transport 24 or more barges and the
heavy equipment for amphibious
construction battalions, Strock said.
One was used to transport LCACs in
a joint logistics over-the-shore exercise in 2008, he said.
In addition to greatly expanding
the supply of ship-to-shore connectors, the M-class ships
could provide a well-equipped maintenance facility,
reducing the demand on the amphibs, he added.
Other potential alternatives are the two Aviation
Logistics Support Ships, or T-AVBs, SS Wright and SS
Curtis, which could transport additional equipment
and supplies that could be sent ashore by landing craft
they can carry. They also could provide a ground combat vehicles repair shop “to die for,” Strock said.
To augment the study of alternatives, on March 24
LtGen Kenneth J. Glueck Jr., the deputy commandant
for Combat Development and Integration, signed a
directive for “a very complete update of MV- 22 ship-
board certification across all maritime platforms.”
That was to determine the interoperability of the
Ospreys with all the ships in the combat fleet and in
MSC, Strock said.
“When I say V- 22 interoperability, it doesn’t necessarily mean they land on the ship,” he said. “When you
say V- 22 certification, you have to ask what level and
what class of certification you’re talking about,” he
added, explaining that some ships, including the JHSV,
the MLP and the first of the AFSBs, can only allow
Ospreys to hover above the ship to pick up supplies
because their jet exhaust can damage the deck.
The certification requirement covers the LMSRs, the
T-AVBs, the MPS ships, the command ships USS Blue
Ridge and USS Mount Whitney, and even the T-AO oilers and T-AOE fast combat support ships, he said.
The alternatives study also is considering options
for getting Marines and their gear ashore from the
alternatives, possibly using Landing Craft Utility or
Landing Craft Mechanized, Strock said.
“We realize we need either a vertical connector or a
surface connector,” he said.
The issue of using unarmed civilian-crewed ships in
potentially hostile situations is not being ignored.
“There are political issues, legal issues,” being studied,
RADM Thomas Shannon, MSC commander, acknowledged during a Sea-Air-Space forum. “We have to take a
hard look at how closely we’re introducing civilian
mariners … to what looks a lot like amphibious warfare.”
But “we’ve done this in the past,” Shannon said, citing the extensive use of civilian Merchant Mariners
sailing the dangerous supply runs to Europe in World
War II, often with armed Sailors onboard.
MSC “cannot replace amphibious combat ships, and
we don’t want to,” Shannon said. “But we can support
At the exposition, Dunford said he could see the
alternative platforms being used primarily in the gen-
erally unopposed “phase zero, phase one operations,”
such as security cooperation, or humanitarian assis-
tance and disaster relief missions.
“But if you’re going to use those ships in a high-end
flight, or even against a high-end threat, you’ll have to
do exactly the same thing you do with a Maritime
Preposition Ship when they are part of a forcible entry
operation,” he said.
A big advantage of the proposed alternative platforms, except for the AFSB, Strock said, “is everything
else is already bought and paid for. You will have to
find the operational dollars to pay for the additional
steaming days to use these ships in different ways. If
the operational need is compelling enough, the funding will be found.” ■
The Military Sealift Command maritime prepositioning force container, roll-on/roll-off ship USNS PFC Dewayne T. Williams and Improved Navy Lighterage System
Causeway Ferry 36 transport equipment and supplies to Marine Corps Base
Camp Pendleton, Calif., Oct. 21 during exercise Pacific Horizon 2015.