The US Army’s landing craft provide transportation of personnel and materiel, delivering cargo from advanced bases and deep-draft strategic sealift ships to harbours, inland waterways, remote and unimproved beaches and coastlines and denied or degraded ports. The service’s venerable Landing Craft Utility (LCU) 2000 vessels are expected to provide a portion of this capability well beyond this decade.
To that end, Swiftships (Morgan City, Louisiana) is under contract to complete service life extension programme (SLEP) activities on three out of four LCU 2000s for the US Army under Phase 1 of the work. Shehraze Shah, the company’s CEO, explained: “LCU 2026 (2nd LCU) is being finalised for delivery to the army this May. In October 2018, the US Army decided to store LCU 2006 until the funds were appropriated for this craft, for either a full or partial SLEP. Finally, LCU 2017 (4th LCU) is in the middle of the SLEP effort, with expected completion in the fall of 2019.”
Mr Shah conveyed the business case for completing SLEP activities for a legacy-era vessel. The SLEP scope of work on this contract includes on-cycle conditional maintenance (including engine, generator, bow thruster engine, emergency generator, and switch board replacement) as well as many other system replacement and repair activities. The task also incorporates condition-found defects, and replenishment of the areas where defects exist.
The corporate leader added: “This includes the hull bottom, piping, and other portions of the craft. Engineering changes and improvements on the vessels are also performed as required by the client,” and emphasised: “In all, the SLEP will extend the service life by a minimum of 20 years.”
Further, “Caterpillar Defense, LeBlanc, Oil States, Advanced AC and Trident Marine Systems are some of the key industry players supporting Swiftships’ LCU 2000 SLEP programme,” according to Mr Shah.
Swiftships expanded its capabilities for this LCU contract by acquiring a dry dock for the berthing of the vessel under SLEP, and hiring specific support personnel, including a dock master and two dedicated US Army (retired) programme managers. Mr Shah concluded: “Swiftships is looking forward to ‘slepping’ the Army’s additional LCU 2000 during Phase 2 with an additional 20 vessels, both within the continental US (CONUS) and outside of CONUS.”