JUST IN: Navy Pushing to Finalize Design for Light Amphibious Warship, Secretary Says
Defense Dept. photo
ARLINGTON, Virginia — The Navy and Marine Corps are looking to have a design concept for the Light Amphibious Warship program ready as soon as possible, the Secretary of the Navy said Feb. 22.
The Marine Corps is implementing a modernization effort called Force Design 2030 to redesign the force for near-peer conflict. In its annual update on Force Design 2030 released in May 2022, the Marine Corps listed amphibious warfare ships as its top investment priority.
“There is no other naval platform that provides more flexibility or the ability to operate in a greater diversity of mission sets than amphibious warfare ships,” the update said. “Amphibious warfare ships are one of the cornerstones of maritime crisis response.”
The Navy plans to procure 18 to 35 Light Amphibious Warships, or LAWs, according to a Congressional Research Service report on the program published in December. While the Navy originally envisioned procuring the first ship in fiscal year 2023, the Navy’s 2023 budget submission deferred procurement to fiscal year 2025, the report said.
The LAW will “be a low signature, beaching, shore-to-shore vessel with intra-theater endurance capable of operating independently or in collaboration with other surface ships, other LAWs, joint task forces, or coalition forces in contested environments,” a Marine Corps statement said.
“I'm very excited about the LAW,” Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said during a keynote address at the National Defense Industrial Association’s annual Expeditionary Warfare Conference. “I'm trying to move the acquisition workforce as fast as I reasonably and responsibly can to come to a decision on which concept we're going to actually pursue for the development of the LAW.
“I think it's critical to Force Design 2030,” he added. “We need to get at least nine of them per [Marine Littoral Regiment] out there. [We] want the Marine Corps to be able to get these ships, experiment with these ships, make sure that we got them right before we go to full production on the ships as well, too.”
The Navy is also working on a variety of other amphibious platforms, Del Toro said.
Huntington Ingalls Industries is currently constructing two America-class large deck amphibious assault ships for the Navy — the USS Bougainville and the USS Fallujah. The America-class ships “are the largest of all amphibious warfare ships, resembling a small aircraft carrier,” a Navy fact file said.
In comparison to the first two America-class ships, the USS America and USS Tripoli, the USS Bougainville and USS Fallujah “will reincorporate a well deck to enhance expeditionary war fighting capabilities,” the fact file said.
The service is looking forward to seeing “the capacity” these ships “will bring to our Gator Navy,” Del Toro said.
The 2023 National Defense Authorization Act authorized an additional $289 million for advance procurement of a future America-class ship, as well as an additional $250 million for advance procurement of a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, according to a Senate Armed Services Committee summary of the NDAA.
The Navy has commissioned 12 San Antonio-class vessels and has three more under construction. These ships are a “critical platform for delivering an expeditionary force forward,” Del Toro said.
The Navy will “continue to build” America-class ships, “and I think we’re going to probably build more” San Antonio-class ships in the future, he said.
“We're taking a bit of a strategic pause to take a look at the mix of large deck and small deck amphibs this year,” Del Toro said. “I think as we look towards the future, there's always going to be a need for amphibious capability in order to take Marines forward.”
Topics: Navy News