In addition, the Navy is working hard to extend
their lives with a service life extension program
(SLEP), and even a post-SLEP extension (PSE) pro-
gram from fiscal 2015 that “addresses what was a
projected capability gap.”
“The PSE program is designed to cost effectively
provide five more years of service life to an existing
LCAC,” he said.
Leonard added that the first two PSEs were completed
in fiscal 2015, and four PSEs are planned for fiscal 2016.
Tom Walmsley, senior vice president and general
manager of land system for manufacturer Textron
Systems Marine, said in an e-mail that the SSC will be
worth the wait.
“The Ship-to-Shore program represents a key U.S.
Navy and U.S. Marine Corps program as the nation’s
military enhances its amphibious landing capabilities,”
he said. “The new Landing Craft Air Cushion vehicles,
under the SSC program, will serve as the evolutionary
replacement for the existing fleet of LCACs, which are
nearing the end of their service life.”
Textron received an award for five additional craft in
March, which increases the total number of SSCs under
contract to nine. The company first received the contract
to build the SSC in July 2012. Valued at $212.7 million,
it included both the design and construction of SSC test
and training assets, as well as eight additional craft.
The Navy will spend about $4.1 billion for 73 SSCs,
according to the 2016 Selected Acquisition Report from
the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a figure
that actually has dropped 3. 7 percent since 2012.
“The SSC program is currently in the production
phase,” Walmsley said. “Two craft are under construc-
tion and are located in the craft assembly station where
the above deck module integration phase of production
takes place. The third craft will begin construction in
June and subsequent craft will start construction every
three months thereafter.”
The SSC program entered production with critical
technology mature and its design stable, although it
had not yet demonstrated that critical processes were
in control, the GAO report said.
“The program recently completed design changes
to the drive train gearbox, which is among the items
the program has identified as potential risk areas,” the
GAO wrote. “Other risks remain, including operational
challenges posed by the steep angle of the craft’s loading
ramp and low productivity in software development.”
The GAO expects a four-year block-buy contract in
fiscal 2017 that would authorize 33 craft.
Once the SSC arrives in the fleet, it will have some
significant improvements over the LCAC, Textron said
in a recent statement.
“The primary differences between the legacy LCAC
and the next-generation Ship to Shore Connector come
in the following areas: larger, more efficient engines
that deliver greater power; the use of composites rather than metal for many components; greatly enhanced
command and control capabilities; communication
and computer system that supports reduced crew size;
and additional enhancements that improve both reli-ability and maintainability,” the company said. n
21 WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / JUNE 2016
The Ship-to-Shore Connector (SSC) design incorporates material and systems improvements to address the top 25
high-maintenance drivers of the Landing Craft Air Cushion, including the use of more corrosion-resistant aluminum in the hull
and composites in the propeller shroud assembly. The first two SSCs are in production and will be delivered in 2017.