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Maneuver Support Vessel (Light) (MSV(L))

Representatives from the U.S. Army and federal and local elected officials joined Vigor employees for a keel laying ceremony 16 September 2019, celebrating the first milestone in the construction of the Armys next generation landing craft, the Maneuver Support Vessel (Light) or MSV(L). The new design, developed in partnership with BMT, dramatically improves the capabilities of the current LCM-8 and provides the optimal combination of performance, operational flexibility and life-cycle cost while maintaining the reliability and versatility of the Armys current craft.

The ceremonial weld marked not only the start of the MSV(L) program but also the beginning of a new era in shipbuilding at Vigors recently acquired state-of-the-art all Aluminum Fabrication facility in Vancouver. Vigor expects the site to employ up to 400 workers by 2023 building high performance military craft, workboats and aluminum fast ferries in addition to MSV(L).

The prototype is named in honor of SSG Elroy F. Wells, an Army watercraft operator killed in action 12.27.70 in Vietnam. Once the SSG Elroy F. Wells is completed and testing and refinements have occurred, the schedule calls for four vessels in the Low Rate Production phase, followed by up to 32 vessels once Full Rate Production is underway. Vigors MSV(L) team consists of a number of key partners including BMT, Gladding-Hearn and Northrop Grumman.

The U.S. Army awarded Vigor the contract to build its new generation landing craft in the fall of 2017. The design for the MSV(L) was developed in partnership with BMT following a detailed study of the Army's unique needs and the available design options fulfill those needs. It dramatically improves the current LCM-8 and provides the optimal combination of performance, operational flexibility and life-cycle cost while maintaining the reliability and versatility of the Armys current craft. The contract calls for one prototype vessel, four vessels under low rate production, and up to thirty two additional vessels over ten years for use by Army Mariners in even the most difficult environments.

The landing crafts tribow monohull is an innovative yet deceptively simple design that provides superior maneuverability and stability in high sea states, through the littorals and within inland waterways in support of land-based operations. MSV(L) is a natural evolution of the BMT Caimen-90, leveraging more than a decade of extensively-tested performance and adapted by the Vigor-BMT team to meet U.S. Army requirements.

The Maneuver Support Vessel (Light) (MSV(L)) is an Army waterborne platform that will provide land maneuver forces with operational agility through tactically synchronized, movement of combat-ready, tailored force elements. MSV(L) represents a modernization of current Army Watercraft capabilities as provided by the aging LCM-8 that adds new capabilities intended to meet the Army's future tactical and operational movement and maneuver requirements.

The Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM) entered service in 1967. The LCM reached the end of its Economic Useful Life (EUL) in 1992 after multiple extensions otherwise known as service life extension programs (SLEP). Fifteen years later the Mike Boat, as it is known in some circles, was still a critical component to the Joint Force ship to shore power projection with over 60 vessels in inventory. The LCM8 replacement contractor was Kviechak, of Seattle WA, awarded in 2005. In 2015, Vigor acquired Kvichak Marine Industries, an industry leader in quality aluminum workboat fabrication. The FY 2006 and FY 2007 [2 units] programs continue to fund the recapitalization of LCM8 replacement crafts and specialized equipment. The FY2005 program funds the LCM8 replacement craft and specialized equipment to meet the Navy Lighterage Recapitalization Plan requirements. The FY 2008 [2 units] and FY 2009 [4 units] programs continued to fund the recapitalization of LCM8 replacement crafts (MPF Utility Boats) and the Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo (LARC-V) Service Life Extension Program.

The Landing Craft Utility-1600 series (LCU) is a similar vessel to the LCM. Larger and capable of greater range and payload, the LCU is still greatly hampered in its operational capabilities by its speed. While the Army has retired all its LCU-1600s, a total of thirty-eight 1610, 1627, and 1646 class LCUs are still operated in Navy Assault Craft Units as of 2000. The LCU can carry a two main battle tanks at 11 knots. While both the LCM and the LCU have the range to operate over the horizon, as future Navy/Marine sea-basing concept would dictate, their speed renders them impractical for such operations.

The US Army, Product Director, Army Watercraft Systems (PD AWS) intends to replace its fleet of Landing Craft Mechanized 8 Mod I and II (LCM-8) vessels with a vessel as described in emergent requirement development called the Maneuver Support Vessel (Light) (MSV(L)). The MSV(L) is an Army waterborne platform that will provide land maneuver forces with operational agility through tactically synchronized, movement of combat-ready, tailored force elements.

The MSV(L) would be employed by US forces operating in geo-strategic, non-linear environment of considerable uncertainty. The MSV(L) will primarily operate in the same operational environments as the Armys Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs), and subject to many of the same threats. Therefore, the MSV(L) concept is a departure from earlier transport delivery procurements to one requiring the ability to maneuver with associated survivability, force protection and ability to fight if necessary.

As a maneuver vessel, the MSV(L) is a critical combat multiplier employed to overcome A2/AD environments and will exploit remote, unimproved waterways and in near coastal areas; and effect cargo transfers in austere denied access beaches; and conduct tactical supply, security, and or patrol missions during riverine operations through robust maneuver and communications capabilities.

As a sustainment vessel, the MSV(L) will still transport cargo, troops, and vehicles from ship to shore or in retrograde movements and in inland waterways and throughout the littorals, though it will also be required to maneuver (move) near the point of contact or to a point of advantage. It shall be used to transport platoon-level combat-ready force elements (equipment and personnel) of the Armys BCT, as well as in lighterage operations and multipurpose utility work in harbors. It shall be used in rough or exposed waters and shall be capable of operating through breakers and grounding on a beach. A bow ramp will permit roll on/roll off operations with wheeled and tracked vehicles.

Payload, Operational Draft and Speed are critical and should be developed as Key Performance Parameters (KPP). All are critical to performance, but Payload is roughly as important as the other two. there may be space for trading small amounts of speed to ensure adequate Payload (configurations) is achieved. Range, Operational Draft, Ramp Characteristics (through stern, cargo area, and Bow), and Transportability (Inter-Theater Movement) are all very important, but are not as critical as Payload and Speed. These attributes should be identified as Key System Attributes (KSA) and will provide potential for trade space if necessary to preserve KPP attributes.

The replacement watercraft is intended to be a family of vessels, and the Army is deliberating whether it would be just a (MSV(L)) light vessel and a (MSV(H)) heavy vessel, and whether the service will also replace the Logistics Support Vessel (LSV) and the Landing Craft Utility (LCU) 2000 with a combined vessel or two separate ones.

The Logistics Support Vessel (LSV), Landing Craft Utility (LCU) 2000, and Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM) 8 MOD I and MOD II are key JLOTS, littoral supply route and sea-basing enablers. These multi-mission mobility platforms provide inter/intra-theater lift of personnel and material in support of Joint and Army ground forces, delivering cargo from advanced bases and deep draft strategic sealift ships to harbors, inland waterways, remote underdeveloped coastlines and unimproved beaches and degraded/denied ports. The Army has begun a major Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) which will add ten years of useful life to the aging platform. The SLEP process will enable the users to complete their operational mission requirements while the Maneuver Support Vessel (Medium) (MSV(M)) is being developed as the LCU replacement.

The LCM-8 has been in service since 1967. The vessel was originally procured with an expected Economic Useful Life (EUL) of 25 years (1992). The LCM-8 is a shallow draft, multipurpose vessel that transports cargo, troops and vehicles from ship to shore or in retrograde movements with roll-on/roll-off capability for wheeled and tracked vehicles. It is also utilized in lighterage operations and multipurpose utility work in harbors.

The existing fleet has the following characteristics:

  • Length: 74 feet
  • Beam: 21 feet
  • Displacement: 58 LTONs (unladen); 111 LTONs (laden)
  • Deck area: 620 square feet
  • Range: 332 NM at 11 knots (unladen) one-way; 271 NM at 9 knots (laden) one-way
  • Main propulsion engines: Type: Diesel Horsepower: 300 bhp @ 1800 rpm Fuel consumption; 21.5 gallons / 81.4 Liters per hour
  • Draft: 3.5 feet (unladen); 5 feet (laden)
  • Carries a crew of 6 enlisted (3 per shift for 24-hour operations)
  • Equipped with navigation, communications, and electronic equipment

Current fleet consists of 38 LCM-8 MOD Is and 6 LCM-8 MOD IIs (command and control (C2) variant). The LCM-8 cant carry an M1 Abrams tank from ship to shore. At best, the current vessel could carry a Stryker combat vehicle.

MSV(L) represents a modernization of current Army Watercraft capabilities as provided by the aging LCM-8 that adds new capabilities intended to meet the Armys future tactical and operational movement and maneuver requirements. MSV(L) is intended to access austere entry points, degraded ports, and bare beaches without dependency on support ashore, in support of land maneuver support and/or maneuver sustainment operations. MSV(L) shall be capable of operating throughout the littoral operational environment, maneuvering in shallow coastal waters, narrow inland waterways and rivers in support of widely dispersed, tailored force elements, even in Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) environments.

The Maneuver Support Vessel-Light (MSV-L), the Armys planned replacement for the LCM, will fundamentally change the way in which the Services conduct watercraft operations. The Armys request for information (RFI) was put out to the commercial community in the spring of 2015 in recognition of the need to replace the current fleet of 44 Army LCMs. Designed to achieve greater maneuverability; the improved payload, protection, and performance characteristics of the MSV-L will deliver more combat power at double the speed and range of the current LCM. Front and rear ramps for drive-through operations will speed loading and unloading,

Army Contracting Command - Warren (ACC-WRN) solicited for a competitive award of a single ten-year Firm Fixed Price (FFP) Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract on behalf of its customer, Product Director Army Watercraft Systems (PdD AWS) for the Maneuver Support Vessel (Light) (MSV(L)). This solicitation is for the development, test, production, training, fielding, and support of the MSV(L). This effort will include a four-year Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase, a two-year Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) phase, and a four-year Full Rate Production (FRP) phase.

On 28 September 2017, the U.S. Army awarded Vigor Works, LLC located in Clackamas, Oregon, a 10-year, firm fixed price, Indefinite-Delivery, Indefinite-Quantity (IDIQ) contract for the Maneuver Support Vessel (Light) (MSV(L)) engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase and subsequent production and deployment (P&D) phase. The total estimated value is $979.79 million. The MSV(L) program is specifically designed to deliver a new vessel that enables Army mariners to carry the modern, combat-configured equipment into diverse littoral settings--giving commanders greater maneuver options, especially in anti-access, area-denial environments.

"The range of operating environments our Soldiers face today--and will face in the future--continues to grow more diverse," said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Drushal, U.S. Army chief of Transportation. "Our mariners need modern, capable vessels that can carry today's Soldiers and equipment. Our commanders need the flexibility to maneuver in many different environments--including maneuvering from the sea. This vessel will do both and provide a critical advantage in future operations."

As the first new Army watercraft in decades, the Maneuver Support Vessel (Light) will displace the Army's fleet of Vietnam-era Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM-8) boats with a modern capability, giving commanders significantly improved seaborne maneuver flexibility. The MSV(L) will provide intra-theater transportation of personnel and materiel, delivering cargo from advanced bases and deep-draft strategic sealift ships to harbors, inland waterways, remote and unimproved beaches and coastlines, and denied or degraded ports.

"Army transportation investments over the last decade rightly prioritized vehicle capabilities, especially in the area of protection," said Col. Dan Furber, project manager, Transportation Systems. "While that was the right thing to do, it also deferred investment in the watercraft fleet and created a mismatch between the size and weight of ground systems and the watercraft designed to carry them. MSV(L) will restore operational relevance to the Army watercraft fleet at an important time."

Most importantly, the program will restore the Army's ability to carry the weight of modern combat platforms. With the expected ability to operate in five feet of water, the MSV(L) will be designed to carry a combat-configured main battle tank, two Strykers, or four Joint Light Tactical Vehicles into a wide range of littoral environments. With a planned range of 360 nautical miles and a speed of 15 knots fully laden, it will significantly improve the Army's ability to maneuver land power when and where commanders need it.

"I'm particularly grateful for the robust, consistent industry participation in this effort," said Scott Davis, a member of the Senior Executive Service and the Army's program executive officer, Combat Support and Combat Service Support. "Watercraft are not something we buy very often, but they are essential to meeting Army-unique maneuver requirements. Industry's steadfast participation in our industry days and other engagements absolutely made our requirements clearer and set this program on the path to success."

The award came concurrent with a "Milestone B" decision that moves the program into its engineering and manufacturing development phase. Over the next four years, the Army will work with Vigor Works, LLC as it produces a full-scale prototype for additional evaluation and to inform the program's final requirements. A "Milestone C" decision and authorization for low rate initial production of the first four vessels are scheduled for the end of fiscal year 2021, followed by a full-rate production decision in fiscal year 2023. The Army seeks to buy 36 total vessels for use by Army mariners around the world.

The U.S. Army's Program Executive Office, Combat Support & Combat Service Support, headquartered here, oversees the Project Management Office, Transportation Systems, including all of the Army's tactical wheeled vehicles and watercraft. With more than 150 programs in active management and an annual budget of more than $3 billion, PEO CS&CSS is responsible for managing the design, development, and delivery of the majority of equipment across the Army's Transportation, Engineer, Quartermaster, and Sustainment portfolios.



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Page last modified: 03-10-2019 18:27:56 ZULU