WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / MAY 2016
tor of sea basing integration at Marine Corps Combat
“It’s not that the Navy doesn’t want them. There’s
just not enough money,” Brennan said in an interview.
“There is a lot we can do with alternative platforms …
that can allow us to mitigate the availability require-
Maj. Gen. Christopher S. Owens, director of Expe-
ditionary Warfare on the Navy staff, made similar
points at the same CSIS event as Walsh, noting that the
amphibious force shrank from 59 ships in 1990 to 30
today, while the total fleet dropped from 566 ships to
280 in the same period.
“The ships today are more capable,” Owens said.
“But numbers matter. They can only be in one place
at one time.”
Owens said Navy and Marine Corps leaders agreed
in 2009 that they needed 38 amphibs in the fleet to
provide the 34 necessary to transport the two Marine
Expeditionary Brigades required by war plans, but that
they would accept 33 due to the “fiscally constrained
“But again, where we sit today at 30 … doesn’t meet
the current combatant commanders’ demand signals
around the world. To get that, we would need 50
ships,” he added.
“One of the things we’re doing to mitigate the short-
fall of our amphibs is the use of alternative platforms,
Brennan said the Navy and the Marines have identi-
fied the alternative platforms they could use “and we’re
trying to figure out how to adapt them.”
He cited the two classes of ships that Owens called
“purpose built” to mitigate the amphib shortfall — the
expeditionary mobile base (T-ESB), formerly called
the afloat forward staging base, and the expeditionary
transfer dock, (T-ESD), originally the mobile landing
The ESDs are designed to be able to nest skin-to-skin with a large supply ship at sea to receive vehicles
and other equipment. They have the ability to ballast
down on one side to allow Landing Craft Air Cushions
(LCACs) to come on board to load the vehicles and
transport them to the beach.
During the Ssang Yong exercise off South Korea in
March, the first ESD, USNS Montford Point, tried skin-to-skin transfer with a large, medium-speed roll-on,
roll-off (LMSR) MPF supply ship to form a sea base,
“They had limited success,” able to make the transfer in the calm sea state 1, but not in the choppy sea
state 3, which is the expected capability.
Marines with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, participate in a company-level live-fire
attack aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., Jan. 24. The exercise was part of a
Marine Air-Ground Task Force- (MAGTF-) sized training event led by the 5th Marine Regiment, which was to forward
deploy with various elements to create the Special Purpose MAGTF Crisis Response Central Command 16. 2.