“U.S. Army to Divest a Majority of its Watercraft and Maritime Capability,” Does the CG Need Any of These?

gCaptain is reporting that the Army will be divesting itself of most of its watercraft.

Eight Army Reserve Watercraft Units and their civilian maintenance facilities are listed for closing. These Units represent hundreds of AGR (Active Reserve), TPU (Reserve), and Civilians. These units presently support, train, and deploy Army Watercraft Soldiers throughout the world, and maintain dozens of watercraft, from 70 ft. Small Tugs to 315 foot LSVs and Barge Derrick Cranes.

As stated in the Army’s Memo initiating this decision, “Army Watercraft Transformation Through Divestment of Capability and Force Structure by Inactivation of Units”, the intent is to “eliminate all United States Army Reserve and National Guard Bureau AWS (Army Watercraft Systems) capabilities and/or supporting structure… eliminating nearly 80% of its present force”.

Their fleet of approximately 300 includes a number of relatively new vessels. They include tugs that might replace our 65 foot tugs and the now out of service 110 foot tugs that are, or were, used for domestic icebreaking

The Major General Nathanael Greene class large coastal tug USAV Major General Henry Knox (LT-802) assigned to the 467th Transportation Company in Tacoma, Washington.

Some of the shallow draft transports might be adaptable as inland tenders.

The fleet also includes 16 ST-900 class pusher tugs, 109 tons (light), 59.7 x 22.6 (22 at the waterline) x 6.7 feet (18.19 x 6.9 (6.7 at the wl) x 2.03 meters) completed 1998 to 2007, as well as a number of barges of various types. .

The Army 6,000 ton, 315 foot logistic support vessel SSGT Robert T. Kuroda, completed in 2006, at its home port of Honolulu, Hawaii, after a 5,000-mile delivery voyage from Pascagoula, Miss.Some of the larger vessels, like the SSGT Robert T. Kuroda (above) and her sister ship, might be converted to be used as mother ships to support remote Webber Class FRC operations in the Eastern Pacific or Southern Caribbean. They might also be useful in disaster response.

One or two of the Crane barges might find a home at the Coast Guard Yard.

The Army has recently let a contract for new landing craft, (also here) no indication what will happen to the contract or the vessels, but it does not sound like it will get beyond the design phase.

Landing craft that can be beached, requiring no piers for unloading, might be useful in disaster response.


19 thoughts on ““U.S. Army to Divest a Majority of its Watercraft and Maritime Capability,” Does the CG Need Any of These?

  1. This sounds bad but, I think the vessels to be reduced are the older LCUs which are being replaced by the new MVS-L. And it sounds like the Reserve Component is to cut more drastically?
    “… maintain dozens of watercraft, from 70 ft. Small Tugs to 315 foot LSVs and Barge Derrick Cranes.”
    BUT more significantly it shows that the Army is seriously reduced its Maritime Force which would limit the Army’s response to DR in CONUS and HA aboard.
    There are other agencies which MIGHT get tasked to take up the slack?
    P.S. I have been on many US Army watercraft

  2. Looking at these as national assets vs. service-specific, it is painfully obvious the LSVs should be diverted to MPRONs or to the Amphibious Force.

    Now the Tugs… Yeah, those would be fantastic “free” upgrades, as long as they are in decent shape, for the Coast Guard.

    • If the Coast Guard decides not to use these perhaps influence the placement in the final destination. Consider what the Australians did when getting rid of the Island Class they had they sent them to Pacific Island nations which had almost nil capacity and that got them something to patrol with
      My favorite group would be the Caribbean Community or the Organsiation of Eastern Caribbean States.

  3. Not sure the Navy will embrace the 6 smaller and 2 larger LSVs. Chances are the smaller ones get sold or donated to allies, possibly some in the Caribbean for HA/DR missions. The 2 larger LSVs could also easily find homes abroad.

    USCG could easily adopt the tugs. Wouldn’t be the first time 2nd hand equipment could be put to good use!

    • I am hoping the CG might take over the two larger, more seaworthy LSVs and use them to support a squadron of FRCs in the Eastern Pacific. Alternately, would be very useful for disaster relief work. Maybe add a flight deck and hangar.

  4. In the event the LSV (2200 ton payload) and LCU (350 ton = 5x M1 tanks) assets are transferred to the MSC in turn making them national assets this is understandable. But if they are put in mothballs or given away then it shows how broken the department is. But it would be typical to let this opportunity pass after years of reports saying how gutted the MSC and sealift in general are. In terms of transferring the LSVs to the Navy, I don’t believe the LSVs were designed to operate in a contested environment. They were intended to to assure ship to shore logistics in an austere or damaged port environment. As such I’m not sure the Marine Amphibious Force will find them up to their standards. Moving them to the MSC would keep the capability in place, while having them be staffed by a civilian authority… Which in turn could have some advantages.

    Note: Philippine Navy has two LSVs that they have modified with an aft deck helicopter landing platform and a hard cover over half of the front storage bay (see wikipedia for pics).

    • This is why I see them as ideal additions to the MPRons. They would be stationed with the ships carrying forward-located equipment and would expand the capability of deploying that equipment from fully-functional port facilities to also damaged ports or over-the-beach. Granted, the beach may need to be secure already, but that’s what the PhibRons and Marines are for.

      Desert Shield, and hence Desert Storm, only succeeded because the Saudi Ports were undamaged and the MPRON ships, and later, Merchant vessels, brought in all the heavy equipment through those perfect ports.

      And while these ships supply low capacity (they are not Mulberry harbors), they provide useful capability which otherwise doesn’t exist.

  5. I am passing this along. I found it on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/groups/759662787557962/?multi_permalinks=1023689907821914%2C1023694254488146%2C1023692167821688&notif_id=1555696102091786&notif_t=group_activity

    It was written by Michael Carr, a USCG Academy graduate. https://www.facebook.com/michael.william.carr?__tn__=%2CdlCH-R-R&eid=ARDsWSZewYR09n1d-NPPMnBsobStmb3zWqXLeSgRgcmOYfXWPW0gJDU3NpmaQNf3BZ7aIMujDuz-a-s6&hc_ref=ARRsSPtq1Blkqby-vd-rhuFoKOwdxwijQadHw03J_wYjiC1Jtnx40UKkV6HGoxyfij4&hc_location=group

    CARR EDITORIAL: Immediately after the attack on the World Trade Center towers the US Army’s 949th Watercraft Company Soldiers were ready to set sail for New York from Baltimore MD with their tugs, cranes, barges, and ground equipment to assist in the recovery efforts. But we were not sent. Then after every major domestic hurricane event (where we could have been highly effective) and were ready to assist, we were never sent. We were ready and prepared to assist in many ocean tows for decommissioned Naval vessels, but were never tasked. We volunteered for endless domestic and global watercraft missions, which would have benefited US taxpayers, assisted in Humanitarian relief efforts, which are or at least once were, a core USA value. We did execute a few missions, but only because of the tenacity of the Warrant Officers in the Unit who fought against an uninspired, negligent and disengeged Army Leadership. Now the 949th is being inactivated. Army leadership is trying to put a spin on this as a good thing..”we are improving, re-inventing..” but the truth is this: The Army mismanaged and neglected a tremendous asset for decades, and now is eliminating Watercraft to simply save some money. I was assigned to the 949th unit for over a decade, and know the capabilities and value of the Soldiers who man this unit. I will not attend this closing ceremony as it is too painful, sad and completely wrong. Transportation Company Inactivation Ceremony: Host: Captain Adam Davis, Commander 949th TC
    When: Saturday, July 27 at 2:00 PM
    Where: 949th Transportation Company (Floating Craft) 700 East Ordnance Road, Baltimore, Maryland 2122

  6. I retired with 38 years, enlisted and officer (E-1 through O-5) and active and reserve. I twice commanded the 481st Trans Co (Heavy Boat). We operated the old 1466 class LCUs (we had LCU 1466!). Over my years I worked with the 2000 class LCU and both types of LSVs. I was Deputy Chief of Transportation in Baghdad in 2006 and 2007. I believe this is a very big mistake. The Army and the Reserve need more, not less watercraft. This is especially true in the Pacific. The transfer of the JHSV to the Navy was a mistake. I do not believe that when, heaven forbid, the big one happens, especially against China in the Pacific, that the Army can depend on the Navy to provide the necessary support that is required. The Navy does not have enough ships or funds to maintain them or train personnel properly to expand they operations and support to the needs of the Army in critical combat.

  7. Well that was fast… GSA is already auctioning off one of the LSVs with word that an additional one is close behind. Unfortunately I’m not surprised by what appears to be a rudderless DoD, trying to do much at once with half-thought out planning at best.


    Interestingly they appear to be auctioning off the newest ships, which are uniquely equipped with the false-bow to improve seakeeping. What I find a particularly disturbing waste of money is that the Army is getting rid of 18 LCU-200’s, while the Navy in the middle of an LCU-1600 recapitalization. At a minimum these should have been set aside for the Navy and Marines to test in a landing exercise to see how effective they would be. With all the continuing talk of MSC and MPRon not having enough assets the GAO is about to sell some off for pennies on the dollar. Hopefully the Australians, Nowegians, or British will get in on this and at least they will be available as friendly force assets.

  8. As a retired marine machinery technician from the Army (across from the U.S.C.G. Yard) it is right troubling to me to see the place I worked go away. The 949th Tans Co. (Watercraft) had evened earned a joint service award from the U.S. Coast Guard, for all the years assisting them with Buoy Missions – as an example. The 949th was an Army Reserve Component, and after my time in the Coast Guard, they became my new home. The Public Affairs office just posted a few hours ago, the “949th Detachment page” on Facebook, which should not be confused with the 949th Trans Co. in Curtis bay, MD. Thanks for this post!

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