I have long thought the Army’s little Navy had the potential to drive some innovation–unencumbered by the Navy’s biases and relatively unfamiliar with the traditional way of waging influence at sea, the Army’s fleet has a chance to generate some creative tension by stealing a march or two on the Navy and Marine Corps. Fabrication of the Army’s new littoral tool, “Spearhead,” the first JHSV, got underway this week.
But I’m not talking about the shiny new ship–I’m cheering the doughty old Littoral Support Vessel, a platform we already have.
If you read the July 2010 Proceedings–all the way through–you might have found a little technical note detailing one of the more thankless contributors to America’s “National Fleet”, the U.S. Army’s Logistic Support Vessel (LSV).
It’s a great note–The 8 General Frank S. Besson Class LSVs are next-generation LSTs–expendable, beach-able, plodding, “fill-with-what-you-will” vessels (the picture is one of the Philippine Navy’s 2 helicopter-ready LSV’s working in Balikatan 2010). They are long-legged, lightly-manned utility infielders–perfect for experimentation, maintenance support, logistics aid or, well, almost anything but “high-threat” stuff.
I write about it over at defensetech, but, I’ll say it here too–the LSV is a perfect example of defense “humbletech”–a technical asset so mundane it gets completely overlooked by the wiz-bang gadgetry of modern defense technologists. (The LSV is also a small-yard project, so it doesn’t have a big lobby like the oddly named “American Shipbuilding Association” writing editorials in favor of the platform, either.)
We should be putting these platforms to work in the field. For low-threat regions, the $32 million dollar LSV is a great platform. We should be using it for presence missions, and planning to see how it could support influence squadrons or work in support of a JHSV or LCS. They are simple to make, so we should be handing out contracts to make variants of these things, get ‘em into the fleet and then hand ‘em out to our friends. They’d be perfect for Africa and the South Pacific–but we’ll have more on that later.
In the meantime, head over to defensetech, read the post, and take a moment to cheer USNI contributor Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael W. Carr for taking on the thankless task of popularizing this low-profile and under-appreciated platform! (As some of us in the USNI crowd might say, “HUZZAH!”)