According to Austal “the Light Amphibious Warship provides the U.S. Navy increased flexibility for distributed operations and deployment of U.S. Marine Corps and special operations units to remote unimproved ports and beach fronts. LAW, whether operating in groups or on independent deployments, is key to implementing a new Marine Corps operational concept called Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO). A shallow draft vessel designed for beaching, LAW will be able to approach land almost up to the shoreline allowing a bow ramp to be lowered and quickly offload cargo. A minimal cruising speed requirement will give LAW a 4,000 mile range without refueling, minimizing costs.”
The main features of Austal’s LAW design are its shallow draft (in order to be beachable), the ability to on/offload U.S. Marine Corps via a bow ramp, its self-defense systems, vertical replenishment capability, the ability to accomodate unmanned aerial systems as well as good seakeeping for open ocean transit.
The ship is 120-meters long with a displacement of 4,500 tonnes. Regarding its mission deck space, it is about 10,500 square feet for rolling stock or cargo.
For the record, as mentioned in the Navy Light Amphibious Warship (LAW) Program Congressional research service report published on July 20, 2021, the U.S. Navy’s new Light Amphibious Warship (LAW) program envisions procuring a class of 24 to 35 new amphibious ships. The Navy envisions the first LAW being procured in FY2023. The Navy’s proposed FY2022 budget requests $13.2 million in research and development funding for the program.
The U.S. Navy issued “concept design” contracts to five companies for the Light Amphibious Warship ahead of the Fiscal Year 2023 design selection for a total combined amount of less than $7.5 million. Fincantieri, Austal USA, VT Halter Marine, Bollinger and TAI Engineers were selected for the contracts.
As described by the USMC, “the Light Amphibious Warship is designed to fill the gap in capability between the Navy’s large, multipurpose amphibious warfare / L-class ships and smaller short-range landing craft such as the Landing Craft Utility and the Landing Craft Air Cushion. LAW is to be a low signature, beaching, shore-to-shore vessel with intra-theater endurance capable of operating independently or in collaboration with other surface ships, other LAWs, joint task forces, or coalition forces in contested environments in support of Distributed Maritime Operations, Littoral Operations in a Contested Environment/Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations across the competition-conflict spectrum.”