Rapid Strategic Lift Ship (RSLS)
Programs of record as of 2004 for 2015 Sea Base forces are challenged to meet a 10/30/30 response timeline. Major capability gaps are highlighted in the various phases associated with these expeditionary operations (Closure, Assembly, Employment and Sustainment). Seizing the initiative encompasses the Closure and Employment phases. Dedicated Strategic Lift assets are needed to move a brigade-size force in order to seize the initiative within ten days. Specific capability gaps as of 2004 included the transport of non-self-deploying aircraft (NSDA) to the Sea Base, especially aircraft that must be disassembled for transport and subsequently reassembled.
Dedicated strategic lift assets, such as high-speed surface ships -- Rapid Strategic Lift Ship -- may provide an answer to the capability gaps identified in the Closure phase. 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 the services are proceeding with the JHSV. The Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Carderock Division requested ABS technical support and input on classification requirements for a new Rapid Strategic Lift Ship (RSLS). This ship will be a relatively high speed vessel with a unique hull form.
As of 2005 the MPF-F squadron will be supported by a single high-speed ship, sometimes referred to as the Rapid Strategic Lift Ship (RSLS), which would deliver nondeployable helicopters to the squadron's three big-deck amphibious ships. At an estimated cost of $1.3 billion, this would result in a total squadron cost of $15.8 billion, not counting the equipment stored inside the ships.
The RSLS supports the force closure of a 2015 Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) by carrying its non-self deploying aircraft, other high demand/ low density items, and associated MEB Aviation Combat Element (ACE) personnel direct to the Sea Base.
Prior studies showed that a ship concept that stowed all aircraft and other cargo internally in selectable offload holds would approach 50,000 tons displacement. Two alternative concepts were conceived for RSLS feasibility studies to reduce ship size. The No-Hangar Variant had aircraft stowed on the weather deck, with the other cargo limited to containers in cell guides. The Hangar Variant had aircraft stowed internally, and other cargo stacked on the weather deck in containers.
With the No-Hangar Variant, the cargo aircraft, when loaded according to NAVAIR recommendations, take up too much space to be practically accommodated on a single deck. Weather deck loading of cargo aircraft is undesirable. Deck stowage of containers is more desirable for RSLS than internal cell guides.
The Hangar Variant aft flight deck precludes a stern ramp. The single flight deck spot may be a choke point. It would be feasible and advantageous to build without a seawater ballasting system to compensate for fuel burn-off.
Rapid Strategic Lift Ship (RSLS) has emerged as possibly a key connector supporting the future Sea Base. Non-self deploying a/c and other equipment/supplies not prepositioned will flow to Sea Base via high speed ship (RSLS). MPF(F) ships depart Advanced Base and arrive in Sea Base between day 12 and day 13. RSLS arrives in the Sea Base on day 13 and begins transfer of a/c, gear, and personnel to LHA(R)/LHD.
The sea basing and forcible entry concepts are critically reliant on strategic airlift to meet the rapid force closure timelines. OSD pressure defense wide to surge forces more rapidly increases the demands on limited strategic airlift assets. High speed sealift is being pursued as an alternative to enhance DoD mobility.
The NCP analysis revealed that high speed sealift could be used in two additional roles. The first is to rapidly close all or portions of the MPF(F) MEB flow-in echelon to the MPSRON(F) and/or SOF forces to an aviation surge platform. Non-self deployable aviation assets (e.g CH-53E, AH-1W/Z, UH-1N/Y, MH-60S, and SOF aircraft) are typically the long pole the tent. And to provide follow-on inter-theater or intra-theater lift/sustainment.
The platform capabilities identified are notional. Should this option gain traction during POM-06, the Navy would need to identify required capabilities and request ASN(RDA)/NAVSEA assistance in developing and costing an appropriate conceptual design. The high speed of such a vessel might better support the seabase when located up to 2000nm from the closest advance base.
Two ships planned, awards in FY12 and FY 14
. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Feasibility Study
completed Sep 04
. Initial Capabilities Document (ICD) under development
. C-130 basing capability option underway
. Built to commercial standards
. Civilian mariner manned
. Speeds of 36 - 39 Knots
. 8000 nm range
. Cargo Aircraft - 20 CH-53, 18 AH-1Z, 9 UH-1Y, 10 CH-60
. 1,650 military passengers (MEB ACE support)
. 250 TEU (Twenty feet Equivalent Unit)
Speed: 36 kts
?? Range: 8,000 nm
?? Payload 5,000 stons
?? Pax: 1600
?? Square: 131,000 sqft
?? Arrival Draft: 24 ft
Major Capabilities Desired (19 Feb 04 N42 Tasking)
36 - 39 Knot Transit Speed
8000 - 10000 Nm Range
Transport Marine Expeditionary Brigade Rotary Wing Aircraft (20 CH-53E, 18 AH-1Z, 9 UH-1Y, 10 CH-60)
3000 Tons of Cargo in 250 Containers
Flight Deck With One Land/Launch Spot
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