WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 30 SEAPOWER / MAY 2016
The Navy is looking for ways to meet the sea state
requirement, Brennan said, which may focus more on
better crew training, rather than “material changes.”
The ESBs use the same hull as the ESD, but have an
expanded superstructure and a large landing deck to han-
dle helicopters, instead of LCACs, and can carry Marines
and equipment and supplies to support them ashore.
The ESB concept was tested in the former amphibious
ship Ponce operating in the Persian Gulf to support mine
countermeasure and Special Operation Force missions.
Two of the ESDs and one ESB are in service and will
be stationed in the Pacific, Brennan said. The Marines
want an ESB in the Mediterranean, “but it won’t be available until 2019,” when a third ship is in service, he said.
Before then, the naval services are looking at using
MPF ships, primarily the LMSR or T-AKE dry cargo
vessels, as an interim sea base, he added.
Both of those ships have been tested in exercises to
support Marine forces ashore by CH-53E helicopters.
Work is on-going to make them and the ESBs capable
of handling the MV-22s, which can go farther and faster than the helicopters.
Brennan noted that the CoComs also are finding
various ways to use the growing fleet of Expeditionary
Fast Transports (T-EPFs), formerly known as joint
high-speed vessels, as amphib alternatives.
But Brennan and Owens stressed that the alternative
platforms, which are built to commercial specifications
rather than warship standards and are crewed by civil-
ian mariners, are no substitute for the amphibs, which
are designed to survive some combat damage and have
And for the amphibs, Owens said, “the good news is,
it is the bottom” of the force reductions. “I’m optimistic
about the future. We are coming back up and we are
focused on getting the right ships and getting the right
Both officers cited the current amphibious ship-
building programs — expanding the San Antonio-
class amphibious transport dock (LPD 17) fleet to 12,
“The LX(R) will provide that, and aviation capabili-
ty and a well deck for LCACs,” Brennan said.
Owens emphasized that by using the proven LPD
design, “we’ll get more out of that new class. We’re
going to focus on three things: commonalty, a cost cap
and competition. That gets us what we need and at a
price we can afford.”
The plan is to use the LPD hull but scale down some
of its capabilities “and still get a much more capable
ship than what we have now, while retaining a lot of
the desired capabilities of the larger ship and keeping
our cost down.”
In addition to modernizing the amphib fleet through
new procurement, Owens said the continuing focus is
on ensuring that the existing ships reach their expected
40-year service life. That requires doing a better job of
maintenance, reducing their operational use and giving
them more open architecture features to allow for the
insertion of new technology without cutting into the ship.
“The next big thing is to support the integration of
the joint strike fighter, the F-35B,” Owens said.
USS America, LHA 6, has been updated to support
both the F-35B and the MV- 22. The follow-on LHAs
will have that capability and some of the older LHD
assault ships could be modified to support those aircraft, he said. n
A Landing Craft Air Cushion attached to Naval Beach
Unit 7 embarks the expeditionary transfer dock ship
USNS Montford Point after departing the amphibious
assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard during a sea-basing
demonstration March 17 in the East Sea off South Korea
in support of Exercise Ssang Yong 2016.