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LHA-1 Tarawa class Command and Control

Amphibious assaults have evolved into one of the most complex of military operations. Enroute to the assault area the amphibious task force must be coordinated and there must be close liaison with escorting ships and aircraft. Once in the objective area, there must be close integration of all of the assault team-the different amphibious ships, their embarked Marine units, the landing craft, fire support ships, anti-air and anti-submarine escorts, and tactical air support for the landing. Then, the Marine commander on board the amphibious force flagship must have the clearest possible picture of what is happening ashore and in the air. Add to this the requirements of coordinating the helicopter and landing craft operations on the LHA and accompanying ships, the movement of troops, and the loading of equipment, and one begins to understand the command and control problems that must be handled in amphibious assaults.

The senior officers embarked in the LHA, the Navy officer commanding the amphibious task force and the Marine officer commanding the landing force, will have modern command and control facilities to help them control operations.

The major command and control spaces of the LHA are:

  • Flag Bridge where the amphibious task force commander can directly observe operations in the immediate area of the LHA.
  • Flag Plot, located behind the flag bridge, where the task force commander can monitor activities through the use of radar, closed-circuit television, and radio.
  • Landing Force Operations Control Center where the landing force commander monitors activities of the amphibious force with respect to troop and equipment movements, and operations ashore.
  • Supporting Arms Control Center which controls and coordinates gunfire from other ships and aircraft attacks in support of the landing force.
  • Tactical Air Coordination Center which coordinates all aircraft activity in the assault area, including troop helicopters, medical evacuation helicopters, aircraft supporting the troops ashore, fighter-interceptors, and anti-submarine aircraft.
  • Helicopter Direction Center which controls the flights of helicopters to and from the ship.
  • Debarkation Control Center to control and coordinate the movement of troops and equipment into landing craft and helicopters on the LHA and on other amphibious ships in the task force.
  • War Room suitable for staff conferences, planning meetings, and briefings.
  • Communications Center which provides centralized control of the various internal and external voice and data transmission systems of the LHA (see below).
  • Combat Information Center which provides continuous monitoring of the air and surface around the LHA to provide information for the task force and landing force commanders, and for the ship's commanding officer, for both amphibious operations and operation of the LHA.
  • Computer Center where specialists operate the ship's Integrated Tactical Amphibious Warfare Data System (ITAWDS).

Many of the command and control features are in large part coordinated and processed by the ITAWDS, a computer-driven system that can integrate data as they are provided and from storage banks to provide real-time information of the amphibious assault. The ITAWDS has capabilities for intelligence processing, control of all-weather/night helicopter operations, ship defense, navigation, targeting of enemy positions ashore, and assault logistics-including flight deck control, helicopter direction, and loading of men, vehicles, and supplies into helicopters and landing craft.

When not employed in support of amphibious assault activities, the ITAWDS computer capability is available for shipboard support functions such as processing routine maintenance reports and personnel payrolls. But the main purpose of the ITAWDS is to assist the amphibious task force and landing force commanders and their staffs in planning, coordination, and simply keeping track of the complex and often rapidly changing activities of an amphibious assault.

Also vital to LHA operations are the ship's internal and external communications systems for the rapid transmission of voice and data communications. These systems include a number of features to reduce personnel and improve efficiency such as automated communications monitoring and automated central control of messages. Those messages intended for the LHA automatically are accepted, recorded, passed to the proper shipboard center, and made available in a communications bank for rapid retrieval. Similarly, there are automatic devices for tuning radios and switching circuits, controlled either by computer, by remote station controls, or by personnel in the communications center.

The closed-circuit television also is integrated into the command and control concept for the LHA, providing surveillance of selected cargo areas and movement routes in the ship, briefings for personnel in remote areas of the ship, and recording of helicopter landings and takeoffs. Related to the command and control activities are the LHA's radars and electronic warfare equipment. The LHA radars are the AN/SPS-52 three-dimensional search radar, which provides long-range detection of aircraft in both distance and altitude, AN/SPS-40 air search radar, and AN/SPS-10 surface search and navigation radar.

Electronic warfare equipment permits the identification of friendly and hostile aircraft, detection and analyses of enemy electronic transmissions, and interference with enemy electronic transmissions under certain circumstances.



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