U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps officials are considering merging their services individual efforts, to buy high-speed cargo and transport ships, into a single program. The Army would tuck its current Theater Support Vessel (TSV) program into the navys efforts to create a family of high-speed ships supporting troops ashore from a seabase and also for general resupply purposes. Officials realized that both the army and navy had similar transportation requirements. Ultimately, the army may get out of the watercraft business entirely and leave the boat driving to the navy and marines.
Navy officials are examining the idea that the high-speed cargo ship could share a hull design with the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program, a move that could potentially drive down the procurement costs for both ships. Both the LCS and TSV requirements are similar in the key areas of cargo capacity, range, draft, length, and reduced crew staffing. Any of the hull designs proposed for LCS would also be suitable for a TSV. The LCS would differ in terms of weapons, sensors, and the ability to support multiple helicopters during operations. While TSV also supports helicopter operations, it is more focused on transporting large numbers of troops along with their vehicles, and equipment. A final decision on merging the programs is expected as the 2006 budget is created. Doug Mohney