Is naval warfare headed for a big change?

Plans to deploy U.S. Marines on a wide spectrum of vessels that surpass the standard pumps aboard amphibious assault ships are being considered by the Corps and Navy officials. Tests are to be carried out where the marines and sailors could be part of the contingent on board aircraft carriers, destroyers, and military cargo ships to the world’s next crisis.

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Exercise Bold Alligator Kicks Off With Marines Taking On The Unknown
The US Marines and sailors were at the center of a test that could change their sea duty in naval warfare.

Marines To Be Deployed On New Ships
With the current shortage of amphibious assault ships, putting the Marines on new ships could help meet the increasing mission requirements around the world.  The plan, in its early stages, would give Marines new types of sea duty on ships across the Navy fleet. Combatant commanders can have an additional company of Marines:

  • ready to recover a downed pilot, or
  • pull American citizens out of an embassy or consulate under enemy attack, or
  • even provide humanitarian aid in disaster situations

Bold Alligator Exercise
In November 2014, the Marines tested the Choctaw County – the joint high-speed vessel (JHSV), during the largest amphibious exercise of the military, called the Bold Alligator. The Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command members were at the helm of the catamaran for the first time and launched rigid inflatable boats from the USNS Choctaw County.

The USNS Choctaw County: Joint High-Speed Vessel
The USNS Choctaw County is one of the 9 JHSVs of the U.S. Navy designed for rapid intra-theater transport of equipment and troops. The vessel is a catamaran made of aluminum and is designed to be flexible, easy to maneuver, and fast even in shallow waters. It is built to a modular design with appropriate soundproofing materials to mask the noise and giving the flexibility of refitting with different equipment in its 20,000 square feet bay, depending on the type of mission it is required for.

The USNS Choctaw County can carry portable hospitals in containers to be used for disaster operations. It can also transport approximately 600 tons of tanks, other military vehicles, troops, and supplies, at 1200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots. Day and night operations are possible with its aviation flight deck that can support a variety of aircraft.

Adiutrix Spear Exercise
In July last year, the U.S. Marines participated in the Adiutrix Spear exercise where they boarded the USS George Washington – a Navy aircraft carrier for a training mission off the Okinawa coast. The exercise was intended to help the Marines prepare to use various types of vessels during a crisis. There were 22 Marines from the Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team (FAST) Pacific trained alongside the explosive ordnance disposal personnel of the Navy as well as the Army soldiers and Air Force airmen. Aside from the USS George Washington, the participants also went aboard the destroyer Mustin, and Matthew Perry – the dry cargo ship.

Deployment On Other Navy Platforms
The successful results of the two exercises for the Marines have prompted officials to look into what other types of ships could be used to launch marines on different missions from the sea. Corps leaders said they are open to the idea of Marine deployment on more Navy platforms if it could provide combatant commanders with extra options. The Adiutrix Spear exercise demonstrated the ability of the Marines to deploy, stage, resupply, and conduct medical evacuations from non-traditional ships like an aircraft carrier, a cargo ship, and a destroyer.

If the Marines become permanent fixtures on ships of the Military Sealift Command, surface combatants, and carriers, they will be performing a different type of sea duty which is nothing similar to the deployments they have had on amphibious ships.

Will the Marines like the change in sea duty?

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2 thoughts on “New Sea Duty On New Ships For The U.S. Marines”

  1. It was impressive to watch the numerous videos about these training operations. It shows the amount of preparation that it takes to train an efficient squadron for combat operations. The aircrafts that I saw in one of the videos looked almost alien. The level of complexity and sophistication of the technology is impressive and exciting at the same time.

  2. There must be an arms race taking place on the high seas. In August 2009, Russian media reported that their country was planning to take a radical step, and buy a French BPC-210 Mistral Class amphibious assault ship (BPC/LHD) by the end of 2009. The Russian order represented an extension of some larger trends, but it was still a sea change on several fronts: strategic, tactical, and industrial.

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