Marines Push Light Amphib Warship While Navy Secretary Awaits Study
“I'm deeply committed to the LAW. I just want to make sure that it has the right balance,” Del Toro said.
Marine Corps officials remain adamant about acquiring the Light Amphibious Warship—a vessel that can move groups of roughly 75 troops around the Pacific—but Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro is in no rush as he awaits the results of a study intended to more closely define what such a ship must do.
“I wish the design for the LAW were much further along than it is today. And that's sort of the environment that I came into,” Del Toro said during the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space conference outside Washington, D.C.
The Navy is currently looking at its future amphibious-ship needs: how many “big-deck” amphibs like the LHAs, how many mid-range LPDs, and so on. Del Toro said this “short study” would wrap up soon and answer questions about the requirements for the LAW.
“I'm deeply committed to the LAW. I just want to make sure that it has the right balance between the operational requirements that it needs, and the survivability that it needs, as well to be able to operate effectively. And then match it to the right balance of large deck amphibs that our country also needs well into the future,” the secretary said. “So that's what I'm trying to do, and I hope to accomplish that here in this current fiscal year, basically, to get us to a better place.”
Del Toro said the Navy should not be rushed on acquisition decisions.
Marine leaders see the LAW as crucial to their Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations concept. It would move the new Marine Littoral Regiments around the Pacific to counter or deny Chinese military activities, Gen. Eric Smith, the Corps’ assistant commandant, said at the conference.
The LAW is intended to complement the larger LHA and LPD amphibs, to be a more efficient way to move Marines around the first island chain, Smith said.
The Marines need 35 LAWs and at least 31 LHA- and LPD-class ships to be an expeditionary force that is present and able to quickly respond to crises, he said.
The Navy had intended to start buying the warship in fiscal 2023, according to the Congressional Research Service, but the service’s new budget proposal pushes that to 2025.
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