The Army’s LSV: Why ignore the modern-day LST?

by Craig Hooper on July 23, 2010

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 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 my latest post up over

at deals with one of the more thankless contributors to America’s “National Fleet”, the U.S. Army’s Logistic Support Vessel (LSV). 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.

As I say over at defensetech, 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 Associationwriting editorials in favor of the platform, either.)

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 Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael W. Carr for taking on the thankless task of popularizing this low-profile and under-appreciated platform.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim W June 27, 2011 at 12:14 pm

LSV is not a comfortable ride because it is not a cruise ship. It is well designed for its purpose. I spent three years sailing out of Pearl Harbor as a Chief Engineer on LSVs. During my tenure, we sailed to Japan once (17 days underway) and to Guam (15 days underway). They are easy to work on and are extremely reliable. If something breaks, we are normally able to fix while underway. Army wants a little more speed out of the vessel but each knot over the current 10-12 knot speed costs lots of dollars. You can only push a brick through the water so fast. We are currently looking for the future replacement for the LSV when they wear out. Not sure what it will be yet, maybe more of the same.


Jimmy W September 3, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Mr. Hooper,

Are you aware that the LSVs and LSTs are not comfortable rides? That, due to their flat bottom, they are more “pitchy” in even moderate waves, than same-sized v-hulls? The flat hull tends to follow the waves, thus inducing sea-sickness even in seasoned crews, and restricts hours of watches.

If we can put a v-hull on them, they would be more effective at all missions other than beaching, but then, they won’t be able to beach.


Blacktail August 3, 2010 at 5:35 am

It’s high time the US military got a hold of some new ships with tank-landing capability.

A lot of people would scoff the idea over the C-17 and C-5, without considering just how hard it is to get them safely into and out of the air with an M1 tank inside (not to mention, how much shorter the range becomes) — not to mention the dismal performance of the C-5 and C-141 fleets in Desert Shield (or the mass airframe overhauls and premature retirements that followed), and the disaster we all know as Task Force Hawk.


Michael Antoniewicz II July 28, 2010 at 1:23 am

Flanking movements, maintenance & logistic toeholds, get the FRACK out of Dodge lifts, dispersed re-supply, dispersed transport….

Right now, the Navy’s landing craft can only reach from their transport ships while the LSV’s are ocean going. Also, LSV’s, unlike transports, don’t require *any* kind of port facilities to off/on load. And on the Gripping Hand, presently all an Enemy has to do is get lucky *once* when they shoot at us in the Logistics Tail and we’re stuck so far up the creek we’re already in but now without a paddle.

Build more because eight certainly isn’t enough. 😉


Craig Hooper July 26, 2010 at 1:37 am

Hi Leesea_–Not clear on what you are asking for! You want…a more purpose-built “clean sheet” mothership? Or a LSV variant modified for mothership duties? Or a modified OSV? (you want the latter, right?)

Now…just to clarify…I don’t think the current LSVs are entirely fully occupied with LOTS duties. Surely they can spare a few for experimentation (and they’ve been working other missions anyway, so…a temp duty elsewhere won’t kill ’em). Then, if they work, build more. The Army ones can go back to LOTS.

Second, it’d be great if you could tell us more about what the OSVs have done for MSC. Somebody (you?) should give us blog-folk a rundown of how they’ve been utilized (C-Commando, Champion and the Hos boats…Frankly, I think their draft is too high. And the LSVs offer greater protection for cargo plus (with the last two ships) a few other interesting extras. I like OSVs, but…just as a raw utility issue, I think the LSVs offer more options. (and for future utility by other navies, too)

If we need platforms in a hurry, sure, rent OSVs, but…for now, what the hey…newbuild LSVs do it for me. But I’m open to being convinced otherwise


leesea July 25, 2010 at 11:57 pm

here is what I posted on USNI Blogsite:
Yes LSVs can serve a mini-motherships, but they lack the full set of capabilities which the Brownwater Navy’s AGP (ex-LSTs) did in Vietnam. Those boat tenders had full boat M&R crew support plus good sized helo deck for Seawolf gunships to fly off of (something else the USN does NOT have in its fleet as yet. And real guns and a CIC also. (yes I spent time on an AGP which supported my PBRs.)

LSVs are good inexpensive ships which the Army needs for LOTS operations, but how about a USN platform as real mothership. No LCS need apply!

To which I added:
Now to throw in the Plan B curve ball:
LSVs are good inexpensive ships which the Army needs for LOTS operations, but how about a USN platform as real mothership? There is NO need to take LSVs from their Army mission to standup a offshore mothership. MSC has been chartering OSVs for such missions for decades now. The Navy could quite easily charter any number of modern US built OSVs suitablly modified for the mothership role. It would not take billions nor a long time to do such. The problem is that naval leadership discounts the expedient answer to less intense missions. The KISS principle is not being applied


Craig Hooper July 25, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Thanks Mike! They sure won’t do it all, but they can do a heck of a lot. And for a time where so much is changing in maritime tech…the more cheap utilitarian platforms we can get for presence and low-threat experimentation, the better!


Mike Burleson July 24, 2010 at 9:35 am

Craig, I’m seeing this story everywhere. Glad you are spreading the word. Such a super-idea needed for modern threats, and without busting the budget. I’d long thought the kind of foes the Marines have fought since WW 2 in the shallow seas, the ships from that era would be quite adequate.


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