SHIPBUILDING

JUST IN: Marine Corps to Prioritize Light Amphibious Warships if Given More Funding

2/8/2022
By Meredith Roaten
Light Amphibious Warship concept

Sea Transport Solutions concept

If the Marine Corps receives budget plus-ups in future fiscal cycles, it will invest what it can in light amphibious warships, the service's top officer said Feb. 8.

President Joe Biden is expected to submit his budget request for 2023 to Congress in the coming months. Historically, Congress has often added money to the military service's toplines based on unfunded requirements lists and other considerations.

At the National Defense Industrial Association's Expeditionary Warfare Conference, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger was asked how his service would like to spend extra funding it might receive in the future.

“I don't know how that will go, but from my Marine Corps lens things like amphibious ships, light amphibious warships are Marine Corps requirements,” he said.

The Department of the Navy, which the Corps is part of, currently plans to acquire 24 to 35 of the vessels, also known as LAWs, and procure the first platform in fiscal year 2023.

Berger noted that fiscal plus-ups can be tied to certain programs or capabilities, and funneling the additional resources into his priorities may not be possible.

“My role is to say, in order for us to achieve the objectives, the requirements that are laid out in the national defense strategy, and global force management … this is what it's going to take,” he said.

Light amphibious warships are a requirement for transforming the Marine Corps, he noted. Berger's Force Design 2030 — aimed at preparing the Marines for a potential conflict with China — calls for divesting of legacy systems and reducing end strength to help pay for modernization and new platforms.

Officials expect LAWs to bring flexibility to U.S. maritime forces. The vessels are critical to the Marine Corps’ role in great power competition, Berger said.

The Defense Department is targeting a per unit procurement cost of $100 million to $150 million, according to the Congressional Research Service.

In addition to procuring the platforms, the Marine Corps must ensure the resources exist to sustain the ships over time, Berger noted.

“You can't just look at the ... price tag of a thing,” he said. “It's a long-term capital investment. It’s the 30, 40 years it's going to take to man, train and equip that ship, maintain it, modernize it." 

Meanwhile, Berger said industry has the capacity to build the LAWs at the same time as larger amphibious platforms. He said shipbuilders such as Huntington-Ingalls have told him manufacturing both types of ships simultaneously is possible.

“There's not a tradeoff,” he said. “Our capacity in the industrial base can handle both.”

The capabilities of smaller and larger amphibious platforms are complementary, he said. The need for traditional amphibious ships still exists, and introducing a more flexible system doesn’t change that, he added.

“It's the tactical mobility to move a smaller element organically that fits this stand-in force approach that we're taking,” he said, referring to operating concepts that call for deploying Marines in close proximity to enemy forces, as opposed to operating from stand-off distances.


Topics: Shipbuilding

Comments (6)

Re: Marine Corps to Prioritize Light Amphibious Warships if Given More Funding

150 million will get a ship without much value everyone will hate. I think your magix number is 250. 8 LAW that can really deploy with troops for the cost of 1 LPD.

Andy at 11:21 AM
Re: Marine Corps to Prioritize Light Amphibious Warships if Given More Funding

The US Army already has this type of proposed ship, General Frank S. Besson class LSV, not sure why we need a 2nd Army (Marine Corp) anymore!!!

Carl Webber at 5:17 PM
Re: Marine Corps to Prioritize Light Amphibious Warships if Given More Funding

There are several things that I don't like about the LAW concept...the weak gun armament, the lack of guided missiles and self-protection CIWS and jammers, and the slow speed. If the Requirements were tweaked for better performance, armament, protection, and if the USMC carried a better ground vehicle complement complete with some light and medium tanks and armor, the LAW concept might work.

Bear in mind that LAW will transport 75 Marines and their wheeled vehicles = HMMWVs, JLTVs, HIMARS, MTVRs, and LVSRs. Is LAW for amphibious assault? Is LAW for logistics? Is LAW for Stand-in Forces? Is LAW to pick up Marines from islands? What is LAW for...to run up on the beach or to feed hovercrafts and LCUs? The vagueness from NAVSEA and the USMC is such that LAW seems so undefined and unrefined that the concept itself seems shaky. After all, why not build a military commercial design ferry instead that can go faster?

The LAW designs aren't finalized yet, but I think LAW should be a new design instead of a borrowed design that sails at 14 knots. If the US Army wants in to spend more funds, then the US Navy should accept LAW to transport M1A2 SEP tanks. A joint US Army and USMC LAW concept seems more suitable than just Marines on LAWs because that will amp up the usefulness of LAW and the LAW design = $250 million instead of $150 million just to transport M1A2 tanks.

Cenebar at 1:58 PM
Re: Marine Corps to Prioritize Light Amphibious Warships if Given More Funding

There are several things that I don't like about the LAW concept...the weak gun armament, the lack of guided missiles and self-protection CIWS and jammers, and the slow speed. If the Requirements were tweaked for better performance, armament, protection, and if the USMC carried a better ground vehicle complement complete with some light and medium tanks and armor, the LAW concept might work.
Bear in mind that LAW will transport 75 Marines and their wheeled vehicles = HMMWVs, JLTVs, HIMARS, MTVRs, and LVSRs. Is LAW for amphibious assault? Is LAW for logistics? Is LAW for Stand-in Forces? Is LAW to pick up Marines from islands? What is LAW for...to run up on the beach or to feed hovercrafts and LCUs? The vagueness from NAVSEA and the USMC is such that LAW seems so undefined and unrefined that the concept itself seems shaky. After all, why not build a military commercial design ferry instead that can go faster?
The LAW designs aren't finalized yet, but I think LAW should be a new design instead of a borrowed design that sails at 14 knots. If the US Army wants “in” to spend more funds, then the US Navy should accept LAW to transport M1A2 SEP tanks. A joint US Army and USMC LAW concept seems more suitable than just Marines on LAWs because that will amp up the usefulness of LAW and the LAW design = $250 million instead of $150 million just to transport M1A2 tanks.

Cenebar at 2:02 PM
Re: Marine Corps to Prioritize Light Amphibious Warships if Given More Funding

This isn't 1944. An amphibious assault on Chinese shores will never happen. Stop wasting money on platforms that we don't need.

GiantDixieCup at 4:00 PM
Re: Marine Corps to Prioritize Light Amphibious Warships if Given More Funding

I agree with Andy and Cenebar that the size and cost of each LAW will need to increase somewhat for it to be effective. I'd put a self-contained SeaRAM CIWS with 11 RAM missiles on each along with a 30 mm gun turret and crew-served weapons. I'd also have a flight deck (which also conceals the cargo below) that could take at least an AH-1 or UH-1 and ideally an MV-22. And either the flight deck or another location should allow a combat vehicle to operate on ship (HIMARS mainly for land attack, NEMESIS for anti-ship, SHORAD for added air defense, or APC or other vehicle with additional guns and anti-tank missiles).

StealthFlyer at 5:41 PM
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