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Seabasing, Force Development Focus Area

Seabasing incorporates the traditional naval missions of sea control, assuring access, and power projection with an increased emphasis on maneuver from the sea. By expanding access and reducing dependence on land bases, seabasing supports national global strategic objectives and provides needed operational flexibility in an uncertain world. Through seabasing we can establish expeditionary bases at sea in support of GCC requirements. Meeting these requirements and the needs of the Nation necessitate more than the 38 amphibious ship requirement. It requires an integrated naval approach to seabasing that employs warships, alternative shipping and land basing in a complementary manner. Increased steady-state demand and crisis response seabasing requirements must be met through creative integration of all platforms and formations. Complementary MSC alternatives provide options for afloat staging, steady state engagement, crisis response and reinforcement for major combat operations. Key considerations are platforms with C2, medical, aviation, and surface delivery to support a variety of mission profiles.

There are immediate and near-term options available to provide MAGTFs with a degree of vertical and surface naval expeditionary capability via a combination of traditional and alternative afloat platforms.

For example, MAGTFs currently positioned geographically with MV-22s could be embarked on a combination of LMSRs, T-AKEs and a single deployer amphibious ship acting as a ‘mothership’.

JHSVs are capable of carrying 600 short tons of cargo and supplies and supporting 104 troops for a total of 14 days without replenishment. JHSVs are certified to operate with CH-53 and smaller aircraft. While the JHSVs can handle the weight of the MV-22 aircraft, flight deck thermal management (deck heating) issues must be addressed and resolved. At this time, JHSVs are capable of conducting vertical replenishment operations with MV-22s.

The MPF Dry Cargo and Ammunition Ships (T-AKEs) can support approximately 100 troops for indefinite periods. T-AKEs are certified to operate with MV-22s, thereby coupling the T-AKE’s supply support selective offload capabilities with the MV-22’soperational reach. T-AKEs have excellent planning spaces, commercial broad-band satellite capabilities, and secret internet protocol network (SIPRNET) connections.

The MPF LMSR ships can accommodate approximately 100 troops for indefinite periods of time. While the LMSRs do not have the communications and planning space capabilities of the T-AKEs, those ships do carry significant amounts of wheeled vehicles, tanks, and heavy equipment, which will become accessible at-sea upon the delivery of the MLP. Innovative uses of the C4ISR equipment embarked in the holds of those ships and C2 augmentation from a joint communications support element (or like equipment) could offset the lack of organic LMSR communications and planning capabilities and give force commanders yet another option for force deployment and employment.

Each Maritime Prepositioning Ship squadron will have one MLP as those ships begin entering service in FY15. Effectively a ‘pier in the ocean’, the MLP will be capable of conducting at-sea, sea state-3 skin-to-skin marriage with LMSRs, receiving equipment and supplies from the LMSRs (up to and including M1A1 tanks), and transferring those stocks to LCACs that are landed on the MLP. The MLP does not possess any designed troop berthing (approximately 20 surge berths may be available). Its 25K square foot raised vehicle deck is open to the weather, and the MLP is not currently designed to husband and maintain LCACs. MLPs are, however, designed to accommodate troop berthing modules supporting up to approximately 400 personnel. Such modules are not currently planned or programmed for MLP integration. A more detailed evaluation of how messing, food storage, shower, waste, and other systems would need to be conducted to determine how this surge in personnel would impact services.

Additional MLPs are being designed as afloat staging bases, and these vessels could provide near-term solutions to support steady-state and crisis operations in AFRICOM and PACOM when integrated with a MAGTF and regionally oriented MEB.

Given the capabilities of the JHSV, T-AKE, LMSR, and MLP noted above, and with the addition of a single amphibious ship (LPD or LSD) to act as a mother ship for troops, aircraft, landing craft, and the like, these platforms taken together could provide crisis response MAGTFs significant dispersed littoral maneuver capabilities -- both vertical and surface with significant sustainment support -- to meet a wide range of combatant commander missions short of Joint Forcible Entry Operations. Seabasing in Expeditionary Force 21 will be characterized by the capability to:

  • Ensure sufficient shipping to meet steady-state operations, crisis response and power projection demand from combatant commanders.
  • Aggregate globally distributed naval forces into tailored force packages.
  • Deploy/employ SPMAGTF, MEU and MEB-sized forces via amphibious and maritime pre-positioning shipping.
  • Provide sufficient, compatible assault follow-on echelon shipping.
  • Indefinitely sustain a MEF conducting operations in the littorals from a seabase.
  • Conduct C2 of littoral operations ashore from a seabase.