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LSTs, LAWs and Russia's Potemkin Wars.

Kirkhill

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Vladimir Putin’s Amphibious Gambit Demonstrates Value Of New USMC Ship Design​


In January, as Russia sent an aged fleet of six diminutive landing craft on a cruise towards the Black Sea, a fearful Europe took notice. Confronted by ships that are, at best, modernized variants of America’s once ubiquitous World War II-era Tank Landing Ship, or LST, Sweden re-deployed their military, and Finland worried over their demilitarized Åland Islands. Beyond the Baltic Sea, countries dedicated some of their most modern military resources to track and escort the little band of ships around Europe, through the Mediterranean and towards Ukraine. Despite the uproar, all the little Russian fleet has done so far is to demonstrate the military relevance of utilitarian landing craft, offering the U.S. Marine Corps an opportunity to reinvigorate their flagging effort to get “old-school” LSTs back into the American fleet.

Russia’s motley amphibious expedition, a set of five Ropucha (Type 775) class LSTs and one new-but-obsolete Ivan Gren (Design 11711) class LST, are all rather small, displacing only between 4,000 to 5,000 tons apiece (To compare, a single American San Antonio (LPD-17) class amphibious assault vessel displaces 25,000 tons). The Russian LSTs are also quite old — the Russian task force includes the first Ropucha LSTs that are well into their fourth decade of service.

The West’s exaggerated response is a tacit admission that even small, militarily insignificant amphibious ships, if used creatively, can cause a lot of problems in the developed world’s littoral zones. The West’s close scrutiny of the Russian fleet suggests the vessels may even be carrying some exotic troublemakers—nuclear weapons, modern sea mines or fancy missiles.

Irregardless, Russia’s amphibious sortie shows what aggressive navies can do with second-string combatants. And it may well sway opinions as Washington mulls a Marine Corps request for an updated LST, called the LAW, or Light Amphibious Warship.

A return to the classic LST ship design makes sense. Humble LSTs were once a big part of the U.S. Navy. Over 1,000 were built during World War II alone, and, as they spread through the fleet, the simple, commodious ships were adopted for all sorts of critical-but-ancillary missions—serving as mobile hospitals, mine warfare support ships, repair ships, salvage tenders, depot ships, fire support platforms and more. The base design hasn’t changed much over the years. Like the ’70s-era Ropuchas, America’s War II-era LSTs weighed in at about 4,000 tons and were around 350 feet long. The LAWs, if built, will have similar dimensions.

Also, apparently Canada isn't the only place that commands are "handled".

In U.S. Navy circles, a huge debate exploded around the Marine Corps’ surprise effort to procure Light Amphibious Warships. The LAW, envisioned in 2019 as a class of 24 to 35 small-but-cheap $150 million amphibious ships, were proposed as a cost-effective means to move small groups of Marines around the Pacific. But, in Washington, the idea has gone over like a lead balloon, with many naval bureaucrats hoping the project will go away when the LAW’s biggest advocate, General David H. Berger, the smart, reform-minded Marine Corps commandant, retires.

Some theorists believe the LAW concept is already sunk. The Navy’s powerful shipbuilders, vested in building bigger and far more expensive amphibious assault vessels, despise the LAW concept and see it as an existential threat. The Navy’s high-end warfighters, disinterested in escort duties, scoff that the LAW is just a “Large, Slow Target,” leaving many Marines to wonder just how they’ll survive ashore if they are supported by the smaller, slower craft. Even Congress—which is eager to grow the Navy—seems skeptical.

Many D.C. insiders consider the LAW as something of a vanity project, dismissing it as a weakly thought out effort to keep the Marine Corps relevant. There’s also some ill will; Distributed Maritime Operations—a strategic framework to try and spread small warfighting platforms around areas of potential conflict, irking and vexing rivals—was a Navy concept, and yet, the Marine Corps has been far more successful in exploiting the idea, promoting the platform as a key enabler of their Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations concept.

The Marine Corps sees the LAW as a route to modern warfighting legitimacy—a way for expeditionary troops to support the fleet, using “mobile, low-signature, persistent, and relatively easy to maintain and sustain naval expeditionary forces” to “conduct sea denial, support sea control or enable fleet sustainment.” It is a risky proposal—akin to giving World War II Coast Watchers, operating in secret, often behind enemy lines, anti-ship guns and fleet support tasks. But the LAW, if built in numbers, gives the Marine Corps a way to engage in almost every single activity required to sustain a modern, island-hopping force.

No warfighting concept is perfect, but Washington’s disregard of the LAW is extremely short-sighted. In the worst case, the LAWs will be relegated to useful, utilitarian tasks, handling the myriad of things “big” Navy likes to pretend it doesn’t need. LAWs can certainly facilitate inter-theatre transport, and, at best, the LAW puts the Marines front-and center, where they can grab headlines while worrying away at rivals and fretting the opposition—just like Vladimir Putin is doing with his old and decrepit Ropuchas.

So will the LAW go the way of the Army's Tactical Airlifter (the C27J Spartan) or the Army's Operational Sealifter (the Spearhead JHSV-EPF)?

Is it just me that sees a similarity in the Canadian Militia debate? Institutions warring over turf and budget, externally and internally, creating cracks along the seams.

It seems obvious that there is utility in simple logistic solutions where quantity has a value all its own. But it has big opponents.

The AOPS has elements of the LAW if not the LST about it. Perhaps some more LST like variants might be worth considering.

If the RCN would deign to consider it.
 

Colin Parkinson

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Inter-institutional warfare in the US military is nothing new, however it never quite got as bad as the very real and bloody Inter-institutional warfare in 1930-40's Japan.
 

daftandbarmy

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Also, apparently Canada isn't the only place that commands are "handled".



So will the LAW go the way of the Army's Tactical Airlifter (the C27J Spartan) or the Army's Operational Sealifter (the Spearhead JHSV-EPF)?

Is it just me that sees a similarity in the Canadian Militia debate? Institutions warring over turf and budget, externally and internally, creating cracks along the seams.

It seems obvious that there is utility in simple logistic solutions where quantity has a value all its own. But it has big opponents.

The AOPS has elements of the LAW if not the LST about it. Perhaps some more LST like variants might be worth considering.

If the RCN would deign to consider it.


I've spent some time in 'LAWs', and they weren't trying to beome a Mini-Me Navy ;).

 

Kirkhill

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I think they are talking about the next size up.

General characteristics
NamesakeGalahad
BuilderAlexander Stephen and Sons
Laid downFebruary 1965
Launched19 April 1966
Commissioned17 December 1966
IdentificationIMO number: 6615508
Fate
  • Destroyed 8 June 1982, during Falklands War
  • Hull sunk on 21 June as a target by submarine HMS Onyx
  • Declared war grave post-war
Class and typeRound Table class LSL
Tonnage
Displacement
  • 3,322 t standard
  • 5,765 t fully loaded
Length412 ft (126 m)
Beam60 ft (18 m)
Draught13 ft (4.0 m)
 

daftandbarmy

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I think they are talking about the next size up.

General characteristics
NamesakeGalahad
BuilderAlexander Stephen and Sons
Laid downFebruary 1965
Launched19 April 1966
Commissioned17 December 1966
IdentificationIMO number: 6615508
Fate
  • Destroyed 8 June 1982, during Falklands War
  • Hull sunk on 21 June as a target by submarine HMS Onyx
  • Declared war grave post-war
Class and typeRound Table class LSL
Tonnage
Displacement
  • 3,322 t standard
  • 5,765 t fully loaded
Length412 ft (126 m)
Beam60 ft (18 m)
Draught13 ft (4.0 m)

Introducing the capability to the CAF would take a huge investment of time, training and doctrine refreshing I believe.

I'm by no means an expert but, from my small part in various amphibious evolutions, it seemed to me that there were alot of moving parts involved, many of which we don't have or seemed inclined to obtain.
 

Kirkhill

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Introducing the capability to the CAF would take a huge investment of time, training and doctrine refreshing I believe.

I'm by no means an expert but, from my small part in various amphibious evolutions, it seemed to me that there were alot of moving parts involved, many of which we don't have or seemed inclined to obtain.

Unfortunately you're probably right.
 

Colin Parkinson

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I think they are talking about the next size up.

General characteristics
NamesakeGalahad
BuilderAlexander Stephen and Sons
Laid downFebruary 1965
Launched19 April 1966
Commissioned17 December 1966
IdentificationIMO number: 6615508
Fate
  • Destroyed 8 June 1982, during Falklands War
  • Hull sunk on 21 June as a target by submarine HMS Onyx
  • Declared war grave post-war
Class and typeRound Table class LSL
Tonnage
Displacement
  • 3,322 t standard
  • 5,765 t fully loaded
Length412 ft (126 m)
Beam60 ft (18 m)
Draught13 ft (4.0 m)
She also had a Mess that served Red Lion Beer and fun crew. They used to come to Vancouver regularly and we got an invite to go aboard for a few drinks.
 

Kirkhill

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She also had a Mess that served Red Lion Beer and fun crew. They used to come to Vancouver regularly and we got an invite to go aboard for a few drinks.
So a bit of a globetrotter then? Despite her size.
 

Blackadder1916

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So a bit of a globetrotter then? Despite her size.

The Brits used to transport vehicles (tanks, APCs, trucks being rotated in/out of Suffield) and ammunition by the LSLs from the UK and Germany via the Panama Canal to Vancouver and Prince Rupert for onward shipment to Alberta, so it was not unusual for Sir Galahad (or any of her sister ships) to make the run to Vancouver. At the start of the Falklands War, one of them, Sir Bedivere was at Vancouver from whence she headed back to the UK, loaded up and headed south to war. The Brits later just used chartered vessels to Montreal, cheaper and more efficient.
 

KevinB

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Introducing the capability to the CAF would take a huge investment of time, training and doctrine refreshing I believe.

I'm by no means an expert but, from my small part in various amphibious evolutions, it seemed to me that there were alot of moving parts involved, many of which we don't have or seemed inclined to obtain.

While I think there could be a good role there, you are absolutely right.
Army - it's not a LAV
Navy - who pays for this?
Army - you, and we probably won't ever use it
Navy - thanks for coming out...
 

daftandbarmy

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She also had a Mess that served Red Lion Beer and fun crew. They used to come to Vancouver regularly and we got an invite to go aboard for a few drinks.

I've met some Welsh Guards who were on board when the bombs hit, and one of the Marines that tried to get them off before the (inevitable) air strike.

If we ever consider venturing into this type of capability there's definitely a need to look at ships like this from the point of view of fire proofing/ survivability improvements, as well as properly training the troops who use them.


Bluff Cove air attacks - Wikipedia
 

Colin Parkinson

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While I think there could be a good role there, you are absolutely right.
Army - it's not a LAV
Navy - who pays for this?
Army - you, and we probably won't ever use it
Navy - thanks for coming out...
The Van Doo's did do an exercise with a French Mistral loading and beach landing LAV's
 

Kirkhill

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The Brits used to transport vehicles (tanks, APCs, trucks being rotated in/out of Suffield) and ammunition by the LSLs from the UK and Germany via the Panama Canal to Vancouver and Prince Rupert for onward shipment to Alberta, so it was not unusual for Sir Galahad (or any of her sister ships) to make the run to Vancouver. At the start of the Falklands War, one of them, Sir Bedivere was at Vancouver from whence she headed back to the UK, loaded up and headed south to war. The Brits later just used chartered vessels to Montreal, cheaper and more efficient.

I was reading something about the internal discussions the Yanks are having about building these small ships. The Big Ship Navy was of the opinion that not only will they take money away from the Real Navy they are too vulnerable and won't be able to deploy over long distances.

It seems to me that Galahad and Bedivere challenge that assumption although they are a bit bigger than the LAW assumptions.

Navy Light Amphibious Warship (LAW) Program: Background and Issues for Congress Congressional Research Service
a length of 200 feet to 400 feet
a maximum draft of 12 feet;
a displacement of up to 4,000 tons;
a ship’s crew of no more than 40 Navy sailors;
an ability to embark at least 75 Marines;
4,000 to 8,000 square feet of cargo area for the Marines’ weapons, equipment, and supplies;
a stern or bow landing ramp for moving the Marines and their weapons, equipment, and supplies the ship to shore (and vice versa) across a beach;
a modest suite of C4I equipment;
a 25mm or 30mm gun system and .50 caliber machine guns for self-defense;
a transit speed of at least 14 knots, and preferably 15 knots;
a minimum unrefueled transit range of 3,500 nautical miles;
a “Tier 2+” plus level of survivability (i.e., ruggedness for withstanding battle damage)—a level, broadly comparable to that of a smaller U.S. Navy surface combatant (i.e., a corvette or frigate), that would permit the ship to absorb a hit from an enemy weapon and keep the crew safe until they and their equipment and supplies can be transferred to another LAW

Class and typeRound Table class LSL
Tonnage
Displacement
  • 3,322 t standard
  • 5,765 t fully loaded
Length412 ft (126 m)
Beam60 ft (18 m)
Draught13 ft (4.0 m)
Propulsion
  • 2 Mirrlees National ALSSDM10 diesels.
  • Power: 9,400 bhp (7,010 kW)
Speed17 knots (31 km/h)
Range9,200 nautical miles (17,040 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h)
Capacity2,443 tonnes
Complement68 crew, up to 534 passengers
ArmamentTwo 40 mm Bofors AA guns.
Aircraft carriedUp to 20 Wessex helicopters (1973)
 

Colin Parkinson

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They were hard working ships, run by the RFA

L3005-RFA-Sir-Galahad2-009.jpg
 

quadrapiper

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The Big Ship Navy was of the opinion that not only will they take money away from the Real Navy they are too vulnerable and won't be able to deploy over long distances.
Since the 1960s Round Tables were running around to Vancouver from the UK/Germany, one wonders what more the USN would want. I'm assuming they could RAS?
 

Kirkhill

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Kirkhill

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Seems like the Army already has the Navy's solution.. kind of. And only needs a crew of 31 soldiers instead of 59 sailors.


1644607652032.png

General characteristics
Class overview
BuildersVT Halter Marine, Inc.
Operators
22px-Flag_of_the_United_States_Army.svg.png
United States Army
Subclasses
Built1987–2006
In commission1988–present
Planned8
Completed8
Active8
TypeLogistics support vessel
Displacement4,199 long tons (4,266 t)
Length273 ft (83 m)
Beam60 ft (18 m)
Draft12 ft (3.7 m)
Propulsion2 × EMD 16-645E2; 1,950 hp (1,454 kW) each at 999 rpm
Speed
  • 12.5 knots (23.2 km/h; 14.4 mph) light
  • 11.5 knots (21.3 km/h; 13.2 mph) loaded
Range
  • 8,200 nmi (15,200 km) light
  • 6,500 nmi (12,000 km) loaded
Complement8 officers, 23 enlisted
 
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