Logistics: November 21, 1999

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Three companies are almost finished with their designs for a huge floating logistic base, but there is no money in sight to actually build one. The original $34 million to design the base is all but gone, and no more money has been allocated. McDermott has proposed the largest base (assembled from five identical sections); Bechtel and the Norwegian firm Kvaerner have proposed bases built from three sections connected by two bridges. In theory, such a base would remain dissembled at anchor at some location (perhaps Guam or Diego Garcia) until needed; it would then be towed to a point near a regional conflict but outside of the war zone and assembled. The result would be a huge floating airbase able to land C-17 transports and provide the US forces in theater with a base that did not require a host nation (or the attendant political restrictions). The floating sections would be loaded ahead of time with the equipment and supplies for ground combat and air combat units. McDermott's monster design could provide equipment and supplies for two tank brigades, two reinforced marine battalions, and an Air Force Expeditionary Wing. The Air Force reportedly likes the idea (and wants the Navy to pay for it since it is, after all, something that floats). The Navy is opposed to the idea, fearing that Congress will think it is an aircraft carrier (which it is not) and stop them from building new carriers. The Army has expressed concern that the floating base would be a huge target for anything from ballistic missiles to Shkval underwater rockets, and that since it could be sunk (unlike a land base) it would be too vulnerable. --Stephen V Cole

 


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