Marines: June 7, 2002


Commando Carrier- The U.S. Navy has a long tradition of using its ships to support commando operations. It goes back to the founding of the navy, when it was understood that the marines carried on each ship were available for commando type operations ashore. For larger operations, sailors would be armed and sent ashore under the leadership and supervision of the marines. During World War II, submarines and destroyers were used to move marine commandos to shore targets, and retrieve the marines after the land combat was complete. After World War II, special small boats were developed for moving SEALs to shore objectives. In 1992, a SSBN (ballistic missile nuclear submarine) was converted to carry as many as 200 SEALs or marines to a hostile shores for land missions. Four more older SSBNs may get the same treatment. During the Afghanistan war, the carrier Kitty Hawk was provided to the army as a floating base for it's Special Operations helicopters. The success of that operation led, in early 2002, to the navy investigating the possibility of converting the 42 year old carrier Constellation to a commando support ship, and giving the army's special operations helicopters a permanent seagoing home. This is an attractive proposition for the army, as most of their commando operations take place within a few hundred miles of an ocean. The commando carrier would provide a well equipped and secure base for commando operations. This was proven in Afghanistan, and if the army and navy can work out a deal, the commando carrier could become a reality. The carrier would probably belong to the Special Operations Command, which controls special operations forces from the army, navy and air force.


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