AS(X) submarine tenders & Command Ships
Naval News: Do you have any plans to use the AS(X) new sub tenders hulls as new Command Ships?
CAPT Brad Busch: “N95 does not. But I will tell you that all of these ship choices are being looked [at], the hulls, different designs [to convert to different missions] for the best capability at the lowest cost.”
Naval Strike Missile
Naval News and Media: Any update on the idea of installing Naval Strike Missile launchers on the L-Class Gator Amphibs or adding VLS cells to the large-deck Amphibious ships?
CAPT Brad Busch: “We had to write a report to Congress on it. Just the Return on Investment, the cost to install it [Mark 41 VLS], we think that the money can be spent on higher priorities.” The captain said that Naval Strike Missiles is a cheaper solution than Mark 41 VLS and the U.S. Navy is looking at the requirement and will push on from there.
Naval News Comments: The U.S. Marine Corps’ NMESIS 4×4 JLTV unmanned tactical truck with two stealthy Naval Strike Missiles (NSM) fired from the helicopter Flight Deck may be a viable and cheaper alternative, or the U.S. Navy can install deck-mounted NSM box launchers just like on the Littoral Combat Ships (LCS). As Captain Busch stated, the U.S. Navy is still studying the Requirement.
LSM: The new name for LAW
Media: The U.S. Marines and the LSM is a new concept. How will the U.S. Navy man, train, and operate the LSM [Landing Ship Medium] on deployments?”
CAPT Brad Busch: “It’s going to be a Navy ship. It’s going to have a Navy crew on it and they’re going to work with the Marines as a Stand-in Force.” (There will be Navy sailors driving it with Marines on board and they will operate together as a team just like the ARG/MEU [Amphibious Ready Group/Marine Expeditionary Unit]). “The big thing is that it’s shore-to-shore unit of action and they’re going to be right there and they’re going to stay in the theater and operate as one.”
Naval News Comments: Upon hearing about the Landing Ship Medium (LSM) name, Naval News reached out to the U.S. Navy’s Chief of Information Office (CHINFO) for clarification on the LAW vs. the LSM because Captain Busch seemed to imply that they are the same ships. CHINFO replied with the following statement taken from a Media Roundtable.
“Not going to say what’s factored into cost of [the] LAW because there are negotiations that probably have to be done at this point. There are 25 LAWs inside the shipbuilding plan…and really it’s the LAW program. Landing Ship Medium [LSM] is probably what we’re going to call the [LAW] ships.”
VADM Scott D. Conn, OPNAV N9
Media: What pay grade will command a LSM and where do you see them Homeported?
CAPT Brad Busch: “That is a FERS [Federal Employee Retirement System] and Fleet question. We’re aiming at O-4 command [Lieutenant Commander] and we’re looking at Forward Deployed, and the Homeports are still being discussed. The Fleet Command and Operational Command will be decided by Fleet. It’s going to be a Navy command teamed very closely with the Marine.” Captain Busch answered another Media question that there are no current plans to make the LAW/LSM, LPD, and LHA amphibious ships hybrid U.S. Navy and Civilian Mariner crews like on the Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) and Command Ships (LCC)—Amphibs will all be crewed by U.S. Navy sailors.
Naval News: Would you increase the speed of the LAWs to keep up with the L-Class Amphibs to 20 KTS? Any status on LAW weaponry?
CAPT Brad Busch: “The LAWs are for the LSMs and the LAWs aren’t designed to operate as part of the ARG. We looked at speed as one of the characteristics.” Captain Busch said that cost skyrockets with adding more speed (requiring more powerful engines and transmissions) and the speed of the LAWs will be designed for shore-to-shore maneuver. Captain Busch did not provide any comments on LAW weaponry.
Media: How are the baseline requirements for the LAW different from the old LSTs [Landing Ship Tanks]?
CAPT Brad Busch: “They’re probably pretty similar. Personally, I haven’t done a line-by-line on them, but I will say the ability to move shore-to-shore; the ability to carry Marines and smaller units of action, very similar to using the LSM. As you know, [the] LSM was a World War 2 craft, copying, going back to our roots and using the LSM again as a Navy conventional [landing] ship.”
Amphibious warfare in the Arctic
Media: Does the Amphib have a role in playing in [U.S. Navy] 6th Fleet [Europe and the Arctic AOR] now and in the future with the current ongoing issue in that AOR [Area of Responsibility]?
CAPT Brad Busch: “I would say `Absolutely.’ I don’t want to speak for the 6th Fleet Commander, but you would agree that anytime you can take 2,000 Marines and place them ashore anytime, anywhere you want, and the enemy doesn’t get to tell you, `No,’ that’s a great capability to have. It’s a great deterrent value to know that we’re off the coast and we can come ashore when we’re told to. So, yeah, I think it’s applicable around the world, 6th Fleet, 7th Fleet, everywhere.”
Media: Is Artificial Intelligence (AI) plugged into FY2023’s budget and when is [its] IOC?
CAPT Brad Busch: “IOC for AI, I don’t know that at the top of my head, but we do have programs in place developing it; working on approach; building on the systems that we have; inserting AI into the software to make it better and faster to think.”
LCS MCM mission package
Media: Any update on the LCS [Littoral Combat Ship] Mine Countermeasure (MCM) packages?
CAPT Brad Busch: 15 LCS Mine Countermeasure (MCM) packages are slated for fielding and the U.S. Navy cannot divest legacy Avenger-class MCM ships until the LCS MCM packages are operational in sufficient numbers.
Patrol boats replacement
Media: Are there any efforts to replace the Cyclone-class Patrol Boats? Will the Coast Guard’s Fast Response Cutters (FRC) be modified for Navy purposes?
CAPT Brad Busch: “I’m not aware of plans in N95” but the U.S. Navy is looking at hulls [from the Navy and other services] to fill [the] gaps.
Naval News Comments: Naval News has reported earlier on any efforts to replace the aging Patrol Coastal boats, slated for retirement, and the U.S. Navy so far does not have any plans to do so with a boat of the same size and stature besides using the U.S. Coast Guard’s Fast Response Cutters. The Littoral Combat Ship and FRCs are planned to replace most of the Cyclone-class Patrol Boat duties.
Naval News: What are your thoughts as to no [the SNA 2022 host did not mention “no” in the question] Medium Unmanned Surface Vessel (MUSV) as noted by CNO Adm. Gilday? Would you want MUSVs in the amphibious fleet?
CAPT Brad Busch “The MUSV is being developed by N96, the Surface Warfare Division, and there is [sic] a lot of different mission sets that the MUSV is primed for and N95 is looking forward to using MUSVs in support of the Expeditionary team amphibious fleet.”
Naval News Comments: This conflicts with what Chief of Naval Operations’ Admiral Michael Gilday said during the U.S. Naval Institute/CSIS Maritime Security Dialogue webinar held on April 28, 2022 in that the MUSV might not be required after all based on recent exercises utilizing unmanned systems. The MUSV acts as the “sensor” for the Large Unmanned Surface Vessel (LUSV will be the “shooter”) to fire missiles but according to the results from Task Force 59 that tested unmanned crafts in the Middle East seas, the MUSV may not be required after all and smaller unmanned systems may take its place.
Author’s Note: Respectfully, no final Navy decision and determination has been set on if MUSVs will be built as the data is still being analyzed and the SNA 2022 Waterfront Conference host did not mention that the CNO was thinking that the MUSV may not be needed.
Unmanned recon systems
Media: Is N95 doing anything in regards to helping Marine Recon Platoons with unmanned recon systems?
CAPT Brad Busch: The captain is unaware of any N95 unmanned Recon system programs, but he did say that the LCS MCM Module goes from the beach all the way out to the open ocean to find mines and neutralize them.
Naval News Comments: Captain Busch may be referring to the MQ-8 “Fire Scout” MCM package.
Launching ACVs from LPDs
Naval News: Do you have any challenges or issues launching the new Marine Corps ACVs from the LPDs?
CAPT Brad Busch: “Not that I’ve heard of. They’re training out with the Fleet and have been launched already off of our amphibious ships and we haven’t heard anything back from the N95 perspective as to any issues. I would go talk to the Fleet to see how they are working with them.”