US Navy ready to welcome first ship-to-shore connector craft

Textron Systems
Textron Systems

Ten sailors from the US Navy’s Assault Craft Unit Four (ACU 4) are awaiting the arrival of the next-generation ship-to-shore connector (SSC) craft in Panama City, Florida.

Designed to replace the landing craft air cushion (LCAC) vehicles, the SSC will be known as the LCAC 100-class craft and be used for humanitarian assistance, disaster response and multidimensional amphibious assault.

Officer in Charge Master Chief Stephen Lowe said the SSC was the “evolutionary replacement” for the existing fleet of LCACs.

“The mission of these craft is to land surface assault elements in support of operational manoeuvre from the sea (OMFTS), at over-the-horizon distances, while operating from amphibious ships and mobile landing platforms”, he said.

“LCACs and SSCs are primarily used to haul vehicles, heavy equipment and supplies through varied environmental conditions from amphibious ships to over the beach.”

In addition to preparations for the SSC arrival at the Naval Surface Warfare Centre, the ACU 4 detachment will conduct various types of testing in the Gulf of Mexico.

SSC pilot Senior Chief Pearsall said the SSC – as a, “100 per cent complete redesign with a considerable amount of automation built in” – would be a significant improvement from the LCAC.

Capable of carrying a 74-tonne payload travelling at speeds of more than 35 knots, the 28-metre-long vessels has a crew of two (pilot and co-pilot) and can carry up to 145 combat-equipped personnel.

They are said to operate independent of tides, water depth, underwater obstacles or beach gradient.

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