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Land Forces 2018: BMT Offers Ship-to-Shore Connector

Aiming CAIMEN-90 at LAND 8710 Requirement


At Land Forces 2018, BMT is exhibiting a model of its CAIMEN 90, offering it for Australia’s LAND 8710 programme as a replacement for the existing fleet of LCM-1E landing craft.

A company spokesperson told MONCh that Australia is stillm developing its requirements and conducting an ‘analysis of alternatives’ to define the specification: a formal request to tender is expected in late 2019. Clearly, the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) will have some overriding concerns as the requirement is developed. Any new landing craft must fit in its two CANBERRA-class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) vessels; it must be able to carry an M1A2 ABRAMS main battle tank (MBT); and it must be faster than the existing landing craft.

Navantia’s LCM-1E is likely to be a contender as it has built landing craft for the Spanish LHD JUAN CARLOS I, to the same design as the CANBERRA-class.

In the 2000s, Australia acquired six LCM2000 landing craft from Thales Australia (formerly ADI) under JP 2048 Phase 1 but the vessels developed cracks during trials and were never accepted.

Speed is becoming a more important requirement, BMT believes, because navies are keeping their LHD and LHA ships further away from shore, to keep them away from the increasing number of shore-based threats in the littorals. However, the ships still need to deliver equipment to the shore. Increased speed, therefore, is required in order to offset the increased distance. The issue is not simply about getting to shore faster because it is dangerous with soldiers on deck and in vehicles; there is a fatigue element to be considered – troops that are longer at sea are less agile when they reach land.

A speed of 8-10kts, therefore, is not an option, in BMT’s view. The CAIMEN 90, however, can achieve 20-30kts, which also gives the craft greater flexibility. If a beach objective is not an appropriate target once the landing craft arrives, it can move at speed to a new location. The BMT executive added that the LCM-8 is a 50-year old design, intended to carry only the smaller tanks in vogue before the appearance of the ABRAMS. The Australian M1A1s are slated to be upgraded to the M1A2 version by General Dynamics, but this will increase their weight even further. Any new vessel must take account of this. CAIMEN 90 has a payload capacity of 90t and can transport an MBT at 22kts: or, if unladen, can travel at 40 knots.

Differences from the LCM-8 are that CAIMEN 90 has a tri-bow aluminium monohull and a bow and stern ramp, which allows for a roll-on, roll-off capability. In addition, folding ramps mean the driver’s view from the wheelhouse is not obscured. The vessel has a 500 nm range, enabling it to operate more independently in humanitarian and disaster relief missions, for instance: it can also operate up to Sea State 4.

According to BMT, the CAIMEN 90 has half the storage footprint compared of an air cushion vehicle with the same payload and uses diesel engines instead of gas turbines, thus reducing through-life costs. At 30m long and displacing 203t, the CAIMEN could carry six all-terrain vehicles instead of an MBT.

The new US Army landing craft, the Manoeuvre Support Vessel (Light) (MSV(L)), is a derivative of the CAIMEN 90. BMT partnered with Vigor and secured the MSV(L) contract in October 2017 with an adapted design from Vigor that meets the US requirements. The CAIMEN concept can be tailored to customer requirements, with alterations possible to the length if needed.

But the CAIMEN 90 design first emerged in the UK, which has a requirement for a Fast Landing Craft to replace the Royal Navy’s existing Mk10 landing craft. BMT said that unfortunately competing requirements meant that the FLC project has been put on hold. The future of the RN’s amphibious ships is in doubt and a defence review is imminent: meaning there may be no replacement at all, if there are no platforms left from which to operate.


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