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The L4 LCAC System: Prospects for 3.0 MEB AEs in the Age of Sea Basing 21

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Reported in January 11, 2010 US Navy and Marine Corps Leadership continue to advocate a 38‐ship amphibious fleet requirement to support 2.0 Marine Expeditionary Brigade Assault Echelons (MEB AEs). Alternatively, this paper presents a forward thinking concept for leadership to consider: the L4 LCAC system whose employment will not only exceed the congressional mandate of 2.0, but sustain a 3.0 MEB AE in FY'12 at current ship levels. This paper traces the genesis of the L4 LCAC system starting with the USN's interest in the SEABEE and concluding with a demonstration of an operationally available (Ao) 30 FY'11 ship amphibious fleet with the capability of delivering an excess of 2.7 MEB AE; and, when combined with the LHA 6, USS AMERICA, a 3.0 MEB AE 31 FY'12 Ao ship fleet is achieved. Lastly, technical feasibility is presented along with a future scope of engineering. To achieve the 3.0 MEB AE target, each vessel of the L‐ship vessel class will require an L4 LCAC system, similar to Figure 1 that shows the appended airborne cantilevers; and for the designated cargo variants, an inserted mezzanine deck to carry VTOLs or RORO vehicles in lieu of a well deck. The L4 LCAC system's enabling feature is to transport the LCACs outside of the ships' hulls, on board the elevator and/or temporarily on the flight deck. With the increased MEB AE capability, the L4 LCAC system appendage with accompanying ship conversions shows a substantial potential to markedly decrease the MEB AE's dependence on the Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future) (MPF(F)) seabase and its attendant challenging cargo transfers and force closure complications. The L4 LCAC system appendage permits each such equipped ship to function as a virtual mobile landing platform.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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  • The Naval Engineers Journal is the peer-reviewed journal of the American Society of Naval Engineers (ASNE). ASNE is the leading professional engineering society for engineers, scientists and allied professionals who conceive, design, develop, test, construct, outfit, operate and maintain complex naval and maritime ships, submarines and aircraft and their associated systems and subsystems.
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