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Logistics Over-the-Shore [LOTS]

Prior to Seabasing, the military was focused on Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore (JLOTS). JLOTS is different than Seabasing. For example, JLOTS uses anchored vessels operating a couple miles offshore to transfer vehicles, containers, and bulk materials between large connectors and smaller landing craft. In contrast, Seabasing uses highly mobile vessels at 25 or more miles offshore to transfer mobile-loaded vehicles with their personnel to assault connectors for rapid transit to the shore to initiate their mission immediately upon landing. The two challenges that Seabasing imposes that JLOTS cannot reasonably meet are the mobility during operations and the need to conduct transfer operations up through the high end of Sea State 4.

The Defense Planning Guidance included requirements for SS3 JLOTS capabiltiy by FY05. Sea State 3 is defined as significant wave height of 3.5 feet to 5.0 feet per the Joint Logistics Over The Shore (JLOTS) Mission Need Statement. Some AOR's have Sea State 3 conditions 50% of the time. Legacy lighterage is only capable through Sea State 2.

Executing JLOTS requires a great deal of large specialized equipment. The Navy's Cargo Offload and Discharge System or the Army's Modular Causeway System form the primary structures spanning the distance from the sealift ship to the shore. Landing craft and warping tugs are also used to assemble causeways and move other equipment. Prior to assembly, unloading the causeway systems requires heavy lift capability such as Navy amphibious construction battalions or Army floating craft companies.

The military has often been faced with having to unload its ships without being able to cone alongside piers or docks. They needed this capability during the Vietnam and Korean conflicts and in each of the World Wars. The ships used during these confrontations, however, were equipped with cargo cranes and thus they were more adapted to offshore unloading than are the ships in the present merchant fleet. Although the process was slow and required substantial manpower, it could be done.

Today the situation is different. Modern shipping methods have increased efficiency but have also increased dependence on port facilities to be able to unload cargo. Major ocean carriers have modernized their fleets and have largely abandoned self-sustaining break-bulk ships in favor of non-self-sustaining, and more economical, containerships. The 20- to 4O-foot cargo containers carried on the new ships offer numerous advantages compared with the smaller boxes and palletized cargo units used in prior shipping methods, but the new containerships are totally dependent on heavy cranes installed at fixed port facilities for loading and offloading their containers. Self-sustaining break-bulk ships are equipped with cranes and winches capable of lifting cargo to and from the ship and positioning the cargo in the holds of the ship. Non-self-sustaining containerships do not have shipboard cranes or cargo handling equipment and are totally reliant on port services to unload and load.

Roll-on/roll-off ships have become attractive to the military because wheeled and tracked military vehicles can be driven on and off such ships easily and quickly via the side and stern ramps of the vessel. Because of these features, the DOD used ships of this type for the Rapid Deployment Force. However most of these ships required a pier and ramps for loading and offloading since they do not have cranes onboard to unload cargo over the side of the vessel.

Tankers in the current merchant fleet are well suited for military use, and their drafts range from 32 to 45 feet. Recause of their size, these tankers require greater standoff distances from shore than did the smaller Navy tankers used in the past. They also require either sheltered water or a large, single buoy mooring for offshore cargo discharge. The latter would permit the tanker to adjust its position in response to weather and sea conditions while anchored offshore.

A DOD project to develop a container distribution system was initiated in 1971 under the guidance of a Logistics Systems Policy Committee which was assisted by the Joint Container Steering Group consisting of general officers representing logistic support areas in each military service and the Defense Supply Agency (now Defense Logistics Agency). The Steering Sroup is chaired by the Director for Transportation and Warehousing policy within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of defense (Vanoower, Reserve Affairs, and Logistics).

In April 1972 a Joint Logistics-Over-the-Shore (JLOTS) test was conducted at Fort Story, Virginia by the Army and Navy. A 300-ton crane was positioned on a B-type Delong floating barge and towed along side a container ship anchored three miles off-shore. The crane lifted the container from the ship and loaded it on a small boat or amphibian for transfer to the shore. This concept was called Temporary Container Discharge Facility (TCDF). The B-type Delong barge is very large and can only be deployed from a Seabee (Ship Barge) ship. This ship is the only one capable fo transporting the barge to an overseas area, deploying it and retrieving the barge after completion of mission.

In 1975 the Steering Group was assigned overall coordination responsibility for the Container Oriented Distribution System including the development of logistics over-the-shore operations. A Container Systems Standardization/Coordination Orour was established under the Steering Group to provide technical assistance. Work under a 1973 Project Master Plan for a container distribution system continued under these groups.

In December 1977, GAO reported that only one of seven projects outlined in the Project Master Plan as necessary for the successful development of a logistics over-the-shore capability was complete. Progress, therefore, was far short of the 1971 expectation that all logistics over-the-shore components would be developed and tested by 1978. In 1977 the target date for the development of a system was extended to 1980. Since 1977, the seven projects had been redefined into a larger number with more specific goals. Target dates were extended again to various completion expectation dates through 1983. Funding problems have been cited by service project managers as the principal reason delays occur.

By 1980 neither DOD nor JCS had quantified or prioritized the need, but lack of ports would severely limit cargo movement capability. The lack of ports could result from hostile action, or simply from the nonexistence of adequate facilities in certain areas. The slowdown in cargo movement inherent in an over-the-shore environment is compounded by the fact that the only existing capability is test equipment in the hands of a few organizations.

Over-the-shore unloading methods are much slower than unloading containerships at a fully equipped port. Modern ships at pierside can load and unload 1,000 containers a day whereas over-the-shore methods can unload less than 300 containers a day [as of 1980]. In tests during 1977, the Army demonstrated a capability to offload 265 containers a day over the shore. This test proved that the TCDF was capable of discharging 150 containers per day and backloading 125 containers for a like period. The Navy, using mobile cranes on the decks of containersbips, attained a 250-container-per-day capability. This over-theshore capability represented the best results attained in near-perfect weather conditions. Furthermore, since backup equipment is not available, the services must assume that all equipment is successfully deployed, operationally ready, and not damaged during operations. The services must also assume calm weather conditions, relatively calm seas, and no hostile action.

The advantages of roll-on/roll-off ships would be lost if deep draft berths were not available for offloading. By 1980 neither the Army nor Navy had the capability to offload these ships over the shore. By 1980 the Navy planned to develop such a capability using a dual approach. One method would employ military bridging sections to connect the ships with causeway sections and allow vehicles to be driven off. This approach was judged by the Navy to be possible only in calm waters such as sheltered harbors. The second approach used cranes to lift vehicles and other cargo off the ship in a manner similar to the procedures under study for non-selfsustaining containerships. Programed research for the roll-on/roll-off offloading system was delayed for lack of funding. Until a system was developed, DOD lacked assurance that the roll-on/roll-off ships used by the Rapid Deployment Force or in follow-on resupply operations will be able to unload efficiently off shore.

The Army and Bavy coordinated over-the-shore discharge of containerships in many aspects of testing and study. Some efforts, however, were unilateral. For example, both the Army and Navy have been developing an offshore system for unloading non-self-sustaining container ships. The Navy developed an offshore discharge system consisting of causeway sections that can be used in both the Navy and Army operations. Causeway sections can best be described as floating barges which can be lashed together forming roadways. Part of this system involves elevating the causeway to form a fixed pier which can support a crane capable of lifting vehicles and containers from literage type vessels or floating causeways. Other causeway sections and barges could be used to bring the cargo directly to the shore where it would be unloaded by forklift vehicles. The Navy envisioned transferring containers from the ships to the floating causeway sections by use of cranes temporarily mounted on another ship which would anchor and operate alongside the containership. This system replaced an alternative system which envisioned the use of mobile cranes placed on the deck of the containerships.

The offshore unloading system developed by the Army employs a large crane secured on a barge anchored alongside the ship to transfer containers from the ship to an air cushioned vehicle or amphibious literage craft which then ferries cargo to the shore. By 1980 the Army had initiated procurement of air cushioned vehicles (LACV-30) which can carry one or two 20-foot containers at a time, depending on container weight. The Army system was not easily deployable. As of 1980 only three ships with U.S. flag registry were capable of transporting the barge and crane used in the system. The ships -- Lykes Brothers, Seabee ships -- were large barge carrying vessels with a stern elevator. Since they were active in commercial trade, their immediate availability cannot always be assured.

By 1980 the services began discussion of adopting a single off-loading system for containers, and joint planning between the Army and the Navy was underway to expand the Mavy program to include Army needs. Such coordination and planning offered considerable advantages. If the Army followed the Havy in an over-the-shore discharge of containership operation, it would be advantageous to use and build on the system already in place rather than deploy and set up another method of operation. Such a concept would require the additional assets for the Navy to be able to leave its system in place for Army use while possibly deploying to another location to set up another system. If the Army were to adopt the Navy methods of providing over-the-shore discharge of container ships, the Army could then begin operations at an earlier date and could build and improve upon the Navy structures as operations continue.

The logistics over the shore (LOTS) program focused primarily on operations by the Rapid Deployment Force in regions of the world without extensive port facilities. During 1982 the Army DCSLOG led the move to have over one billion dollars included in the Program Objective Memorandum for LOTS for fiscal years 1984-1988. The LOTS program procures commercially available landing craft, utility (LCU), and logistics support vessels (LSV) as well as other essential supporting craft and lighterage. The largest to-date peacetime logistics-over-the-shore (LOTS) exercise occurred in the Fall of 1984 at Fort Story, Virginia. Some 3,000 soldiers, sailors, and marines participated in a joint service test - JLOTS II - to determine what equipment and logistical procedures would be needed to conduct military operations in areas that have no fixed port facilities or deep draft piers. JLOTS II featured a variety of merchant marine and navy vessels as well as ship-to-shore lighters, landing craft, amphibious vehicles, portable causeways and piers, and special handling equipment for moving cargo over the beach and inland to marshalling yards for control and distribution. Navy and Marine units installed cargo-handling equipment and prepared for the discharge of a container ship, the SS Export Leader, and a breakbulk (palletized and loose cargo) ship, the SS Cape Ann. The SS Export Leader was moored to the Keystone State, one of the Navy's new crane ships, which used onboard cranes to move containers across its own deck and over the side to lighters. The lighters, landing craft, portable causeway sections, and amphibians then moved the containers to shore. Traditionally, Logistics Over-the-Shore [LOTS] has been defined as operations wherein a vessel anchored in open water was discharged into lighters, with the cargo subsequently discharged over a bare beach. The current definition of LOTS encompasses not only the capability to provide initial sustainment for early entry forces over an unimproved beach, but also the following:

  • Discharge through major or minor ports inaccessible or denied to deep-draft shipping.
  • Intra-theater sealift of cargo and equipment.
  • Support of normal fixed port operations (i.e., berthing ships, providing heavy lift floating crane service, shuttling LASHs).

The first step in planning bare beach LOTS sites is to locate the available beach areas. Sites being considered for LOTS operations should be examined closely to ensure that they meet the requirements or can be upgraded to acceptable standards. Area reconnaissance should be conducted as soon as practicable to determine the most suitable sites for operations. The degree to which LOTS sites can be spread out depends on the daily tonnage requirements and the size and layout of the assigned area.

According to the U.S. Transportation Command Joint Logistics-Over-the-Shore Exercise Planning Guide, one of the most important factors in selecting a beach area for LOTS operations is throughput capacity. Beach throughput is based on offload and clearance rates. Offload rate is the rate at which cargo is discharged from lighterage such as the RRDF. Clearance rate refers to the rate at which cargo can be moved from beach discharge points to inland staging and marshaling areas.

There are several factors that must be considered when selecting a LOTS operations area. Often, the capacity of the road from a beach to the principal inland areas limits the beach's usefulness to discharge and transfer supplies and personnel to inland destinations. FM 55-60 specifies that the usual capacity of the beach can never exceed the capacity of the road. Thus, if the road capacity is inadequate, new roads must be built.

Another consideration in selecting a beach site is the availability of a road or rail network, or the possibility of building one, to tie the beach exits to the main transportation network. If suitable roads exist, their exact physical characteristics should be determined. The availability of inland waterways also must be evaluated. FM 55-60 states that the strength and width of any bridges along the way are most important in evaluating the capabilities and limitations of a road network. The existence and need for telephone lines, radio stations, and power lines also must be considered when selecting a beach site.

Typically, beach locations for LOTS operations, particularly in undeveloped areas, will have a number of limitations. It is the beach reconnaissance officer's responsibility to identify and analyze these limitations and make recommendations for improvement.

A LOTS operation may be conducted as part of the base, garrison, or theater development that immediately follows an amphibious operation or as a separate evolution when no amphibious operation precedes it. During LOTS operations, supplies and equipment are moved ashore and transferred to a transportation agency for onward movement. Because LOTS operations are inherently dangerous, risk assessment and risk management are ongoing requirements.

Certain conditions require a LOTS operation through major or secondary ports. If, for example, port facilities are denied to deep-draft shipping as a result of enemy action, a LOTS operation would be the alternative. Other circumstances requiring LOTS include inadequate port berthing capability or inadequate port facilities due to shallow water depths and/or enemy action. LOTS operations across a bare beach are the most resource-demanding in terms of the type and number of watercraft required. In many areas, the capacities of existing ports are not adequate to support theater tonnage requirements. This factor, along with the possibility of enemy insurgent activities, requires that plans favor widely scattered beach operations over large port complexes. In-the-stream anchor is an operation where a deep-draft vessel is anchored in protected deep waters, such as a harbor. Offshore anchor provides anchorage off the shoreline in unprotected deep water. From either of these anchorages, ships can discharge to lighters for subsequent discharge to a fixed-port facility, unimproved facility, or bare beach. Nearly 40 percent of all cargo entering a theater by surface means is delivered through dispersed beach terminals. Therefore, the theater's senior terminal commander must continually plan for and open new beaches. These sites accommodate increased tonnages and replace the tonnage capacity of a port or unimproved facility that has been made untenable by enemy actions.

Joint Logistics-Over-Shore operation requires the transfer of cargo from ship to a floating platform. A motion compensation/mitigation interface system is needed between sealift ship ramps and the causeway Roll-On Roll-Off Discharge Facility (RRDF) platform. The majority of existing sealift RO/RO ship ramps were not designed for Sea State 3 (SS3) RO/RO operation. Sea state 3 for Joint Logistics Over-The-Shore (JLOTS) operations is defined as the combination of sea and swell components, in the littorals, of significant wave heights (H1/3) ranging from 3.5 to 5.0 ft and wind speeds from 13.7 to 16.4 knots. Ship ramp structures were not designed for excessive relative motions between ship and the platform in rough seas. A need exists for a motion compensation interface between ship ramps and floating platforms. The objective of this R&D effort is to develop a SS3 interface capability between existing RO/RO ships and existing and future causeway platforms. It is envisioned that this technology may comprise of a motion compensation interface, which provides the landing for a ship's ramp. The ship Ramp to Platform Interface (R/P Interface) would always support the ramp along its entire landing surface without overstressing the ramp structure or the ramp-to-ship hinge. An effective transition is also required to allow for drive-over of rolling stock at any relative position of the platform and the R/P Interface system.

Normandy was the largest LOTS operation of WWII. The post-war development of LOTS would focus on how to improve on Normandy. Since achievement in terminal operations is measured by tonnage, the direction of development was size of vehicles and water craft. Expedient harbor design for the invasion of Normandy required substantial coastal engineering effort. The design of the two Mulberry harbors ("A" at St. Laurent (Omaha Beach) and "B" at Arromanches) required information on wave and tide prediction (design tide range was 7.3 meters (24 feet)), wave diffraction, wave induced forces, bottom conditions, and placement of structures and their foundations. Wave-diffraction theory (wave transmission about the tip or through a gap between breakwaters) was developed for this project. The Mulberry Harbor was designed in two parts. The portion closest to shore, in shallow water, had a breakwater of vertical reinforced-concrete caissons (code name "Phoenix") and sunken ships protecting it, while the seaward portion was protected by moored floating breakwaters ("Bombardon"). The Bombardon had a cross section similar to a Maltese cross in shape; each unit was 61 meters (200 feet) in length, 7.6 meters (25 feet) in beam and depth with 5.8 meters (19 feet) draft. They were deployed in pairs with a 15.2 meters gap between pairs. Located inside the shallow water sheltered area were pier heads and mile-long pontoon-supported flexible bridges (causeways code named "whales"). After initial construction, a storm along the Normandy coast with gale winds blowing from the northeast generated sea conditions larger than project design waves. Operations were disrupted and elayed, with great damage to the artificial harbors, craft and ships. Mulberry "A" suffered damage beyond repair.

Exercises off the northern shore of France were conducted [1950-1964] to test new concepts and rehearse for another Normandy like operation in the event the Soviet Union destroyed the fixed ports with nuclear bombs. Offshore Discharge Exercise (ODEX) was a Supply-over-the-beach Operation off the Northern Coast of France. Part of the COMZ development in the event the Soviet Union would disable the fixed ports by a nuclear attack. Note that because common use of acronyms the Transportation Corps changed Supply Over-the-Beach to Logistics-Over-The-Shore (LOTS) because soldiers got tired of working on the SOB. New Offshore Discharge Exercises (NODEX) were conducted 1954-1964, until DeGualle kicked the US Army out of his country in 1964.

A 1958 exercise tested the Sky Tram. The aerial tramway, developed by John A. Roeblings' Sons, Corp. of Trenton, NJ, consisted of two towers that connected a DeLong floating pier to the shore by two track of aerial cable and four cargo cars, that operated like elevated street cars. It was first erected by the 577th Aerial Tramway Company, at Little Creek, VA, during Operation TRAMTEST, from 14-18 November 1955. It was first stationed at Camp Wallace, a Fort Eustis subpost, but moved to Fort Eustis in 1956. The Aerial Tramway had the capability to conduct offshore discharge where there was no beach on which landing craft or amphibians could land such as steep cliffs. In the summer of 1961, the 577th Aerial Tramway Company became the Army's only active duty aerial tramway company. The 408th and 458th were in the Reserves.

LOTS Operations

  • Operation BLUE JAY , summer 1951. 373rd Transportation Major Port, Thule, Greenland. Construction of the Distance Early Warning (DEW) Line, which stretched from Alaska across the Arctic Circle to Greenland to watch the skies for the feared bomber attack by Russia.
  • Support Northern Army Command (SUNAC) 1952. 373rd TMP offshore discharge at Thule, Sondrestrom and Narassuak Air Bases Greenland, Labrador and Baffin Island, Canada in support of DEW Line East.
  • Support Northeastern Command (SUNEC) 1953-65. All landing craft were prepositioned so crews from Ft Eustis deployed to Thule to conduct LOTS to support the DEW Line. The first BARC platoon discharged cargo at Frobisher Bay, Baffin Island, Canada, during SUNEC 55.
  • Lebanon Crisis, Khalde, near Beirut Airport, 1958.
  • LST Beaches at Cam Ranh Bay and Qui Nhon, 1965-1973. All units arriving in Vietnam were landed by LCMs for ship-to-shore. After the DeLong Piers were established, the LST beaches were used for the discharge of ammunition. For safety reasons, ammunition ships had to remain off shore.
  • Beach discharge in Mekong Delta (IV Corps Tactical Zone), 1965-1973.
  • I Corps Tactical Zone, 1968. The shallow nature of the beaches in I Corps did not make it practical to build piers, so the resupply was primarily conducted by beach operations. Because of the need for beach support, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, assigned the US Navy and Marines to this area. In late 1968, the US Army assumed an increasing role in this area.
  • LOTS at Sau Hugynh, 1967. This LOTS operation conducted by the 159th Terminal Bn supported a brigade of the 101st Abn Div at Duc Pho along the coastal highway. This was conducted by landing craft. Sau Hugynh had a protected shore while the beach at Duc Pho was open ocean subject to rough seas. It was cleared for both LARC LXs and LCUs.
  • Battle of Hue, 1968. Army LCUs joined Navy YFUs to sail in convoys up the Qua Viet River to Hue and the Perfume River to Dong Ha to deliver supplies. The enemy conducted rolling ambushes along the river. One LCU was destroyed by a command detonated bomb in the water as it passed over. After the Tet Offensive, the US Army established the DaNang Support Command in I CTZ and the Army continued to deliver cargo to Dong Ha and the Navy Ramp at Hue.
  • LOTS at Wunder Beach, March - September 1968. 159th Terminal Bn supported the 1st Cavalry Division in its operation to break the siege of Khe Sanh and clear the NVA out of Ashau Valley. This was conducted by LARC Vs and LXs because the beach gradient was too shallow.
  • LOTS at Vung Ro Bay, 1968. This was conducted by LARC Vs and LXs.



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