US Navy Conducts Mobile Landing Platform Demonstration

Released on Saturday, October 21, 2006
United States of America
JHSV - Joint High Speed Vessel
LMSR - Large, Medium-Speed, Roll-on/roll-off
LSV - Logistic Support Vessel
MLP - Mobile Landing Platform
MPF - Maritime Preposition Force
MSC - Military Sealift Command
USNS - United States Naval Ship
The Navy began conducting at-sea experiments off the coast of Virginia near Norfolk for the Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future) Program (MPF(F)) in August and was completed October 13.

The Navy's overall objective was to continue learning about how to ensure that vehicles, stores and personnel can routinely and safely be transferred between ships at sea. In the future, transfer at sea will allow the rapid and selective offload of prepositioned ships, followed by delivery of the forces and equipment to shore via connector craft.

"The demonstration has provided essential information that will help mitigate the technical risk for MPF(F) squadron acquisition," said Capt. Patricia Sudol, program manager for Support Ships, Boats and Craft (PMS 325) within the Program Executive Office Ships. "MPF(F) is a key enabler of sea basing, and will flexibly support the projection of up to a brigade-sized force and continuously sustain them from the sea. We learned a great deal during this exercise, and we greatly appreciate all the hard work put in by the individuals and organizations, which helped to facilitate this event."

The effort is headed by PMS 325 and was supported by Assault Craft Units 2 and 4; Beachmaster Group 2; Military Sealift Command (MSC); Naval Sea Systems Command; Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division; Office of Naval Research and various contractors in the conduct of the demonstrations.

The demonstrations used a heavy lift, or float-on/float-off, ship and a Large, Medium-Speed, Roll-on/roll-off (LMSR) ship to simulate the future planned Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) and LMSR "skin to skin" interface. The event also tested automated stowage and retrieval systems in the at sea environment, as well as initial experiments with dynamic positioning.

The MLP, an element of the MPF(F) squadron, will be the "pier in the ocean," a surface interface platform that will allow ships such as Army and Navy LMSRs to transfer vehicles and equipment to the MLP instead of going to a terminal on shore.

The MLP is being designed to interface with LMSRs and Landing Craft Air Cushions (LCACs), but other platforms such as the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV), Army Logistic Support Vessels (LSV), and Landing Craft Utility (LCUs) could interface with the ship for loading as well.

Mighty Servant III, a heavy-lift, semi-submersible ship owned by Netherlands-based Dockwise International, was used as a surrogate MLP during the demonstration.

USNS Red Cloud (T-AKR 313), a ship crewed by civilian mariners and operated by MSC to support Army lift requirements, also participated in the exercise as the representative LMSR. Red Cloud is a roll-on, roll-off vessel used to transport military vehicles and other cargo and can load and unload from its stern, or side ramps.

Events were initially conducted pierside for training, then at anchor and ultimately in the open ocean.

"The exercise was based on a 'crawl, walk, run' philosophy," said Sudol. "This approach ensured a safe operating environment for personnel, equipment and the ships, and provided data under a variety of operating conditions."

The at-sea demonstrations covered seabase-enabling operations in sea states ranging from sea state 3 through the middle range of sea state 4. Sea refers to the height, period, and character of waves on the surface of a large body of water. Sea state 3 refers to waves between .5 and 1.25 meters in height. Sea state 4 refers to waves between 1.25 and 2.5 meters in height.

"Although we used ships not specifically designed for the purpose, we were able to successfully demonstrate vehicle transfer and delivery in sea state 3 - the threshold goal for the program," said Sudol. "We are working to progress to higher seas as our understanding of the challenge develops."


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