LAMP-H [Lighter, Amphibian - Heavy Lift]
The LAMP-H is a diesel-powered prototype air cushion vehicle designed in conjunction with Bollinger Shipyards in Louisiana. The craft was designed to meet the requirements of the US Army for transportation of heavy vehicles and equipment from floating support ships to the beach. The design incorporates many unique features such as an aluminum main hull with a steel deck to handle the abrasive environment associated with tracked-vehicles and the use of diesel propulsion to drive the ducted propellers and lift fans. Extensive model tests were performed to verify the directional capability and also the ability to climb a beach.
Although the LACV-30 fulfilled a major need in the Army Logistics Over The Shore (LOTS) requirement, some requirements remained unmet. The transportation of heavy, outsize cargo quickly exceeded the LACV-30 capability. The Army approved a Letter of Agreement for a LAMPH on 24 May 1982. The LAMP-H was required to transport heavy equipment, LOTS support equipment, the M-1 tank, tracked and wheeled vehicles, 20- and 40-ft containers, and general cargo. In response to these requirements, the Army evaluated four candidate concepts: the Marine Corps LCAC, a modified U.K. SR.N4 ferry, an air cushion barge, and a modified LACV-30.
Strategic air and sealift are vital concerns to the Army, but the Army relies on the Air Force and Navy for these services. During FY 1989, through mobility studies such as the Revised Intertheater Mobility Study (RIMS), the Army iterated shortcomings in this area. RIMS, for example, identified deficiencies in offloading men and cargo from Navy ships in areas without adequate ports or controlled by the enemy. The Army, moreover, was assigned the mission of Logistics Over the Shore (LOTS), and an Army-Navy memorandum of agreement on strategic mobility provided that the two services coordinate to preclude duplication of effort. Funding for LOTS in FY 1989 totaled $69 million, an increase of $8 million over FY 1988, and was devoted to procurement of special landing craft.
In the late 1980s the Army was acquiring the LAMP-H (lighter, amphibian, heavy lift) to off load heavy equipment such as M1 tanks and Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, but a prototype had not been tested as of 1989. The Army found a similar Navy craft, Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC), unsuitable for the LOTS mission, since the LCAC must be loaded from within a Navy "wet well" ship and cannot be used when cargo has to be loaded from above.
The US Army's Sample Data Collection [SDC] program collects data for identifying RAM (reliability, availability, maintainability) characteristics of fielded equipments. The example of its cargo hovercraft LAMP-H (lighter amphibious heavy lift) showed the value of such logistical data in reducing support costs. The HSI/MANPRINT Integrated Decision/Engineering Aid (IDEA) tool set is a set of automated processes, tools, and databases developed specifically to enable HSI/MANPRINT analysts in the Army and Navy to meet the requirements of the DoD 5000 series documents.
In the meantime, the Army had fielded two companies of Logistic Air Cushion Vehicles at Fort Story, Virginia; accepted four Logistics Support Vehicles (LSVs) from the contractor; and in late FY 1989 took delivery of a new 2000 Class Landing Craft Utility (LCU) for above-board transfer of cargo from deep-draft vessels. The Army also lacked sufficient tugboats to maneuver ocean vessels for LOTS operations.
The LAMP-H [Lighter, Amphibian - Heavy Lift] watercraft program was terminated as unaffordable. It had been pretty well along toward fielding. When the Army looked to the probability of using that particular asset, in relationship to the urgent requirements of the funding process, to the Long Range Plan as well as the Procurement Plan, it was just something that could not meet the funding line. There are other ways to discharge ships in the stream, not as efficiently, not as fast, but they can get the job done. And, with the changing world status, the Army did not think we ought to spend money on a LAMP-H when there are other high priority things that need funding, such as opportunities to refit the LACV-30, like upgrading it to LACV-50.
The roles and missions is that the LAMP-H, the amphibian, the air cushion vehicle, became cost effective in operations if ships are stationed offshore more than a mile and three quarters to two miles. But, if closer to the shore, then there are causeway systems, LCU'S, and other lighterage available. That type stuff is slow moving in the water but they can at least get supplies from the ship to the beach. Still, there is a, school of thought that says if the beach gradient is shallow, then it is not possible to get some of those systems in. In an emergency, some engineering effort could build a temporary causeway to solve some of those problems. So, there were some workarounds.
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