Both the Army and the Navy maintain logistics-over-the-shore capabilities, although with somewhat different emphases. The Army, with its focus on theater waterborne logistic support and coastal transportation operations, relies primarily on the logistic support vessel (LSV) and the LCU-2000 utility landing craft. The Navy, with its focus on support of amphibious operations, relies primarily on floating and elevated causeway systems. Both Services maintain a variety of tugs, floating cranes, barges, and other floating craft to perform such critical functions as docking sealift ships, performing heavy lifts, clearing channels, and discharging petroleum. The capabilities of both are needed to meet joint requirements for major contingencies.
The major shortcoming of today’s capabilities for conducting logistics over the shore is that they are severely limited by adverse weather or rough seas. Sea state 3 conditions bring offloading to a halt, and such conditions (or worse) prevail almost half the time in many areas of the world where future military operations may be conducted. In Korea, for example, sea state 3 or greater prevails 43 percent of the time in summer and 63 percent in winter.
A number of developing technologies aim to overcome this environmental limitation. Stabilized cranes are being designed to move cargo safely from ships to lighters. Improved, modular causeways with higher freeboard are being developed to permit transport of equipment and cargo in rough seas. Roll-on and roll-off discharge facilities are being developed to enable efficient offloading of roll-on and roll-off ships. Experiments with rapidly installed sea barriers seek ways to dampen waves in the immediate area of unloading operations. Concepts for portable ports seek to develop means for quickly constructing piers that would enable ships to offload without using lighterage.
Development of sea state 3 logistics-over-the-shore capabilities should remain a high priority. Even with the emphasis that the Marine Corps is placing on supporting its operations from the sea, the ability to conduct over-the-shore operations efficiently will remain critical to the rapid buildup of combat power ashore and the rapid withdrawal of forces for commitment elsewhere.