The U.S. Army’s LCM-8 has been in service since 1959 and has a payload capacity of 53.5 long tons (54.4 tons) of cargo, but a slow speed of 12 knots (22 km/h) light (unladen) and 9 knots (17 km/h) loaded. The LCM-8 cannot carry an Army M1A2 tank because the tank weighs more than 54.4 tons.
The U.S. Army’s Maneuver Support Vessel Light (MSV-(L)) intends to replace the LCM-8 with a new vessel that can carry 82 tons (about the weight of an Army M1A2 Systems Enhancement Package Version 3 (M1A2SEPv3)) with all the extra add-ons such as Tank Urban Survivability Kit (TUSK) armor or Trophy Active Protection System (APS) against incoming rockets and missiles) and sail at 30+ knots unladen or 21 knots laden. The aluminum MSV(L) will be armed with two CROWS II Remote Weapons Stations (RWS) that can mount either a .50cal M2HB heavy machine gun or a Mark-19 40mm automatic grenade launcher. The MSV(L)’s three main engines produce 2,600 horsepower to drive three waterjets. Specifications on the Maneuver Support Vessel (Light) can be found here.
However, a setback may have disrupted the schedule of the MSV(L) and Naval News reached out to Vigor Industrial and the U.S. Army with questions in early March 2022.
Vigor Industrial said over a phone call in early April 2022 that they have no further information to share (that is not already on their website).
Regina Rogers, Product Director, Army Watercraft Systems, U.S. Army Program Executive Office for Combat Support & Combat Service Support, Detroit Arsenal, Michigan, did reply to Naval News’s Questionnaire in mid-March 2022 with information and answers on the MSV(L).
Naval News: What is the status of the Army’s MSV(L) program by Vigor and BMT Designers and Planners? There is a speed discrepancy regarding the unloaded speed being 30+ knots on the Vigor MSV(L) website and another source saying it is 18+ knots unloaded speed….a huge difference.
U.S. Army: Without the source, we cannot verify the accuracy of the reporting. The MSV(L) objective speed requirements are 30 knots unladen and 22 knots laden.
Naval News: What is the current MSV(L) status and how does the current status of the MSV(L) affect US Army modernization plans?
U.S. Army: The MSV(L) prototype build effort continues; however, COVID-related supply chain and workforce availability have impacted the completion of the MSV(L) prototype. Prototype build efforts were further compounded by the prime contractor’s subcontractor (BMT) filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in February 2022. The prime contractor is working through challenges associated with BMT’s bankruptcy. The Army continues to target First Unit Equipped in 2025 with four MSV(L)s fielded per Army Composite Watercraft Company.
Naval News: If the MSV(L) is indeed canceled, how and why? Is there a replacement for the MSV(L) program, or does the US Army plan to rebid?
U.S. Army: There are currently no plans to cancel the MSV(L) program.
Naval News: Can you provide some background history on the MSV(L) program and how the MSV(L) will be an asset to the US Army?
U.S. Army: The MSV(L) will replace the Army’s Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM-8). It will provide inter- and 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.
Naval News: Why not buy a landing craft from the US Navy, or a borrowed parent design, or another design (such as the Textron SECAT)?
U.S. Army: The Army Watercraft community is a critical part of the overall U.S. Joint transportation capability, currently consisting of 74 vessels. The Maneuver Support Vessel-(Light) is a validated U.S. Army operational requirement with appropriations from Congress for the program. There are no other existing platforms that can meet the MSV-(L) requirements today.
Naval News: Can you provide some Engineering and Design challenges on the MSV(L) program if there are any?
U.S. Army: Engineering and design challenges on the MSV(L) program are typical of what would be encountered on any new watercraft build program. Current challenges are associated with the finalization of the boat’s electrical work and documentation to support MSV(L) prototype launch and testing this year.