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Seabase

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 United States Navy desires that its forces have a logistics sustainment projection power of up to 200 nautical miles, which is the typical distance from a ship launch point to the preplanned delivery or receipt point on land. Logistics presently available to U.S. forces operating in the littoral and more inland regions of the world depend on supplies being shipped in a conventional manner using existing air-based, ship-based or land-based assets. These methods of delivery, generally encompassed by what is referred to as the "iron mountain" approach, are ponderous. The iron mountain approach to cargo transport is constantly at risk of attack, is inherently expensive and requires considerable distribution logistics.

Seabase is a loosely defined term that refers to a collection of ships at sea conducting operations that enable forces to operate ashore without a large logistics footprint. Such an operation may require a wide variety of ships to transfer cargo such as pallets, containers, and vehicles to one another. Seabasing is a potential avenue toward the joint development of the Army Afloat Strategic Flotilla and the MPF(F) as well as the Army Austere Access High Speed Sealift and the Navy's Rapid Strategic Lift Ship in a similar manner as the services are proceeding with the JHSV. The costs and benefits of joint seabasing must be compared with the costs and benefits of other parallel developments, particularly SDHSS and HLVTOL, that also address joint force projection and sustainment requirements.

A basic seabasing scenario has a group of ships acting as the seabase supporting operations ashore. This would likely consist of prepositioning ships including the MPF(F), amphibious ships, CLF, and combatants. These ships would require periodic resupply of cargo, both for their own consumption and for resupplying deployed forces. This cargo would be delivered by a variety of ships, including commercial containerships, other prepositioning ships, and ships of the Ready Reserve Force. These ships could either join the seabase and deliver the cargo to the appropriate ship(s), or they could deliver their cargo to one or more ships for storage and/or redistribution.

In 1945, the United States had access to 170 military bases worldwide. By 2005, the number had dropped to 26. Despite this fact, the U.S. military must be ready, now more than ever, to respond to contingencies and natural disasters around the world, often without the manpower and other resources associated with shoreside military bases.

Seabasing is a relatively new concept that responds to this growing need for flexible, mobile sites that will make warfighting resources available wherever, whenever needed. As envisioned today, a sea base will be able to deploy 15,000 U.S. Marines and their equipment entirely from the sea. Although the exact composition of a sea base is still evolving, many of the nation's defense leaders see it as a virtual floating base composed of more than a dozen ships, including amphibious assault ships, auxiliary vessels and connector vessels. Design and acquisition teams inside the Navy are looking at the possibilities now and anticipate the development of a squadron of this kind in the next 10 to 20 years.

Seabasing will provide the JFC with significantly expanded options and flexibility for employing the joint force from a secure and maneuverable base of operations. Joint forces, rapidly assembled and prepared for operations at the sea base, will move to their objectives using surface assets such as, Landing Craft Air Cushions (LCACs) and next generation Heavy Lift LCACs (HLLCACs), High Speed Vessels (HSVs), Utility Landing Craft (LCU(R)), and Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles (EFVs).

As currently envisioned, the sea base will be able to accept forces and materiel for sustainment directly from CONUS, from an advanced base no further than 2000nm from the sea base, or from closer intermediate sites, with an anticipated throughput of 2000 short tons per day. Operating 25-100nm from shore, the sea base will be capable of sustaining forces ashore out to a total of 240nm away. The sea base will possess the capability of transferring a maximum of 1500 short tons per day to forces engaged in high intensity operations ashore or other naval forces operating in or outside of the sea base operating area. Sustaining forces operating ashore from the sea base will minimize the requirement for accumulating an "iron mountain" of supplies ashore.

One of the key components of a sea base will likely be a new squadron of ships - Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future) ships, or MPF(F). These new ships are slated to be added to Military Sealift Command's Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadrons - groups of large cargo ships laden with military equipment and supplies that are strategically located at sea and are ready to off-load their cargo at virtually any port in the world on short notice. Warfighters can then be flown into theatre to marry up with their gear, enabling them to respond to contingencies faster and with more force.

The implementation of seabasing with MPF(F) is dependent upon high-speed, reliable and survivable surface craft and aircraft able to deliver logistics support where and when needed. The HLCAC, LCU(R), and the employment of the MV-22 and other improved air assets will answer this requirement. Examples of other logistics innovations the Navy and Marine Corps are exploring include unmanned delivery systems, advanced lighterage, containerization, predictive maintenance, and standardization of equipment.

Operational Maneuver from the Sea (OMFTS) is the Marine Corps' new warfare doctrine expected to be in place by 2010. The idea is that all logistics support will come from the sea, rather than from a large, land-based supply point (as in traditional combat service support). This means that the several support ships comprising the sea base will have to operate as "floating warehouses," a task for which they are not configured.

In the concept papers Operational Maneuver From the Sea, Ship-to-Objective Maneuver, Sea-Based Logistics, and Maritime Prepositioning Force 2010 and Beyond, the Marine Corps laid out its vision of how it will conduct future amphibious warfare. Under OMFTS, combat forces will be deployed from the sea base directly to an objective ashore. This approach drastically reduces logistics infrastructure ashore and retains these capabilities at the sea base.

The key to successful OMFTS will be in the ability of the Sea Base to support the operation. The Sea Base will enable OMFTS to be successful well into this century. The Sea Base will be the primary source of logistics support for the MAGTF. Since it is not practical to merely move the "metal mountain" of logistics from ashore to the Sea Base, the application and storage of required CSS services and supplies will require a revolution in both form and function. Additionally, this reduction in footprint ashore will also reduce logistic support requirements and reduce the force protection requirements logistic units levy upon the units that they support. Sea based logistics, by definition, is the "means to support littoral power projection from over the horizon, independent of sovereignty restriction and overseas basing requirements" (Sea-based Logistics concept 12 May 1998). The Sea Base will also be the conduit through which supplies, equipment, and personnel will move ashore for reinforcement and sustainment operations as well as the source for non-end-item user maintenance, engineering, and health service support to the force.

The Sea Base will allow the USMC to reduce the logistical footprint ashore. However, maneuver elements will still require a mobile CSS capability. Additionally, the size of the CSS train will be tailored to facilitate maneuver to the greatest extent possible. If a transition to a conventional land operation is directed, a general offload can be ordered to establish CSSAs ashore. The Sea Base will give the capability to have all logistics support remain sea based unless a transition to sustained land operations occurs and a general offload is ordered. If this happens logistics support bases may be established ashore, if required, in the form of Combat Service Support Areas (CSSAs), Beach Support Areas (BSAs), and / or Landing Zone Support Areas (LZSAs). Another option may be to increase the size of the mobile CSSDs that may be moving with or in proximity to the maneuver forces.

The Maritime Prepositioning Force of the Future (MPF(F)) is critical to the success of STOM. The Sea Base is one of the most central aspects of a successful OMFTS operation and the MPF(F) is the linchpin of a successful Sea Base. At best there will only be amphibious shipping to lift 2.5 MEB equivalents. That is insufficient for force closure, and critically deficient for sustainment. To fill the gap the MPF(F) will serve not only as an integral part of the Amphibious Task Force (ATF), but will also serve as the conduit for the flow of combat forces and sustainment into the Theater. It will supply, service, and equip the Landing Force (LF) and the Sea Base from the Supporting Establishment (SE), both in CONUS and abroad.

The enhanced capabilities of these ships will significantly increase the capability of the Sea Base - in the Seabasing concept - to provide unimpeded mobility and persistent sustainment. This enhanced sea base will minimize limitations imposed by reliance on overseas shore-based support, maximize the ability of the naval elements of the joint force to conduct combat operations from the maritime domain, and enable the transformed joint force to exploit the Nation's asymmetric advantage of our seapower dominance.

The ability to rapidly generate maneuver forces from this sea base will augment our forward presence and forcible entry forces, increasing the overall power and effect of the joint campaign.

Sea Basing is a transformational operating concept for projecting and sustaining Naval power and a joint force, which assures joint access by leveraging the operational maneuver of sovereign, distributed, and networked forces operating globally from the sea. The Sea Basing concept has been endorsed by the other military services and its importance was confirmed when DoD announced a Joint Sea Basing Requirements Office will soon be established. Central to the staying power of Naval forces will be the Maritime Pre-positioned Force-Future MPF(F).

The Center for Innovation in Ship Design (CISD) started a Sea Basing Innovation Cell. At the CISD charter signing ceremony in October 2002, Rear Admiral Jay Cohen, Chief of Naval Research at the Office of Naval Research (ONR), was impressed with the unique structure of the innovation cell on high speed, small naval vessels (HSSNV). Thus, in February 2003, the next CISD Innovation Cell was formed. The cell was scheduled to run through 30 May 2003. Since February 2003, the team has been working to define the challenges to Sea Basing to narrow the focus of such a broad topic. The team concentrated on interface issues between a sea base and the supply and delivery vehicles. After extensive research, the Sea Basing Innovation Cell brainstormed several concepts.

The team has selected Intermediate Transfer Station (ITS), Deep Water Stable Crane Ship, and Sea Base Hub for further concept development. An aspect of these concept designs will also include consideration of selective offload of cargo and use of re-configurable spaces for multi-use ships and platforms. With the innovation cell's focus on cargo transfer at sea, the concepts are all developed to enable an increased cargo transfer capability.

The Intermediate Transfer Station (ITS) provides improved cargo transfer between roll on/roll off (RO/RO) vessels and lighters. The ITS benefits the sea base by reducing the torque on RO/RO ramps during cargo transfer in high sea states, ability for multiple ships to simultaneously offload cargo to a stable station and for multiple lighters to receive the cargo.

The deep water stable crane ship will support the offload of cargo between ships. This highly stabilized vessel and crane will enable the transfer of cargo in high sea states with minimal pendulation. A conceptual ship design was developed for further studies.

The Sea Base Hub is a ship supporting the sea base with re-configurable spaces and selective offload capability. The Sea Basing Innovation Cell is working on a ship design and is in collaboration with Code 2820 leveraging ongoing PMS 325 funded Strategic Sealift Research & Development Program efforts on re-configurable spaces and selective offload concepts.

The re-configurable spaces project looks at the use of ship space, i.e., cargo hold, for multiple purposes. Once a ship offloads cargo, there is unused space that could be utilized to support the sea base. Code 2820 supported the development and evaluation of concepts for reconfiguring spaces for vehicle stowage, high capacity berthing (including bunks, messing, exercise space, and hotel services), vehicle maintenance, hospital services, and other feasible uses of empty ship space.

Selective offload is the ability to offload desired vehicles and cargo from the ship instead of having to offload the entire ship to get to the vehicle or cargo in need. Code 2820 will support the development and evaluation of concepts for the handling and stowage of rolling stock and cargo within the sea base to allow for selective offload. Furthermore, this study will identify several concepts for transferring and deploying vehicles and cargo in a sea-based environment.

The Seabasing FNC is one of the 5 Future Naval Capabilities (FNCs) established in 2005 by the Department of the Navy. The Seabasing FNC's overall mission is to identify those mature and evolving technologies that, through focused investment, guidance, and management, can be demonstrated to provide the capabilities required to fill identified capability gaps in the Seabasing vision. These capabilities will subsequently be made available to the warfighter through a systematic transition to the acquisition process. The products of the Seabasing FNC must be capabilities that are ready for transition to the acquisition community for further System Development and Demonstration using R&D funds.

The Seabasing FNC Integrated Product Team (IPT), which provides direction for the FNC, identified four approved Enabling Capabilities (ECs). The STLVAST Program is a part of BAS-FY06-01 - "Sea Base Mobility and Interfaces". The other enabling capabilities, BAS-FY04-01, BAS-FY07-01, and BAS-FY07-02 are not directly germane to the STLVAST Program, although BAS-FY07-02 is planned to begin investing in FY07 in technologies that address vehicle movement between the Maritime Prepositioning Force - Future (MPF(F)) LMSR and the Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) and BAS-FY04-01 is currently investing in lift-on/lift-off technologies for moving containers between vessels in the sea base. The interface of the MLP to the LMSR (fendering, dynamic positioning, motion control) are to be addressed in this effort, but not the actual Ro/Ro and Lo/Lo transfer between large vessels.




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