Army Watercraft Article

War on the rocks published an excellent article yesterday on the need to rethink how the Army Watercraft and Navy communities rethink logistics:

That said there are some obvious and gapping holes in the ideas presented here and in presenting my criticisms I forgot to be diplomatic.

To the website’s credit they are listening despite me being a PITA and have asked me to present my objections in a more diplomatic way.

So I thought it would be best to open the discussion up to ya’ll. What did the authors get right, wrong, or overlook entirely.

P.S. my #1 objection is that none of the authors are actual Merchant Mariners but that point has already been made.

Can you post you “undiplomatic” reply here?

This will require some thought, and right now I’m at sea, hopefully I’ll get a chance for a deep dive later on, but a few quick takeaways would be; The authors don’t mention merchant mariners, and seem to believe all of thesearmy watercraft will be manned by military personnel, this is of course farcical, does the U.S. Army even still have an MOS for watercraft operators?

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I guess I can publish the part that’s already public:

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Turns out yes, the U.S. Army still does have an MOS for watercraft operators (88Kilo).

Be that as it may, the authors again seem to believe that military cargo will be transported by military ships manned by military personnel, and as I stated above, that is absurd, U.S. Navy amphibious ships are used for USMC personnel.

So of course merchant ships will be required to transport almost all war material across the Pacific, which leads to the basic question, does the USN/USCG have sufficient assets to; turn the Straights of Taiwan into a major killing ground, secure the airspace over Taiwan, land and support large numbers of USMC personnel, protect U.S. and allied ports, protect Army amphibious assets, and protect merchant ship convoys across the pacific?

Then are there enough merchant mariners available to man the ships needed, especially when it needs to be noted that a large number of military ships are manned with merchant mariners (civmars)

If the answer to nay of my questions are no, then it won’t matter how many, or what type of military amphibious vessels are built, the U.S. cannot defend Taiwan.

While we’re on the subject, would anyone in the Military be so kind as to tell me, why myself, or any other merchant mariner should be willing to risk our lives for a country that treats us like shit?

Not sure if anything I’ve written here helps at all, but here it is


It’s worse than that. They will treat your family like shit too.

If there is war tomorrow and I sign up the Navy has already said they don’t have the assets to protect our ships.

So when I die does my kid get a flag? Nope. GI Bill for College? Nope. USG Life Insurance? Nope. VA Medical? Nope. A service ribbon to remember his dad? Maybe if he writes to MARAD and pays a $35 fee.


Add to that, the private insurance we pay for to take care of our families, likey won’t pay for an act of war.

I work hard, I take care of my family, and my nation needs in both peace and in war, but if I die serving my nation, my spouse and child could likey wind up on the street.

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Candidly I would like to read your entire undiplomatic reply, but I understand why you’ll only publish the already public part.

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I think they glossed over fact that all of the gear is getting in-region via merchant sealift, but also they are clearly talking about the “last-mile” as it were, about military vessels crewed by military personnel.

Certainly a conversation on wartime logistics should include both parts, but for me any gripe with this article is akin to there being a conversation between FedEx home delivery drivers not having any trucks, and you are taking issue with them not discussing long-haul FedEx pilots. Both components are important to delivering the product, but this article is specifically concerned with the fact that (although they don’t mention us) even if we get the product to them, they have no current/ready fleet of the vessels required to actually deploy the assets.

The big red WTF flag for me is one they mentioned and is found in a CRS report … the $145million price tag to build the Light Amphibious Warships (LAW)…yet another grossly overpriced ship build program.

I agree that the article is missing some very important discussion on the greater issues that definitely include the merchant marine, but I also don’t fault them too much since that’s not really the issue they are discussing. That they should be discussing it is worth bringing to their attention though, so you’re not wrong to do so.

On second thought @john maybe you should be more blunt like “Hey, if you think you have a logistic problem now, just wait until you hear about the organization that is supposed to deliver all your s#!t in the first place!


Typical content for War on the Rocks.

I tuned out when they used the term “cheap and inexpensive vessels”. That made me laugh.

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“These large craft, previously used to build ‘iron mountains’ of materiel, will be unsuitable for operating effectively in the Indo-Pacific. Their size makes them relatively easy targets at sea or in port, and they are required to operate at functioning ports for onload or offload — a risky bet in a highly contested theater.”

Obviously these authors never heard of MPS. The original 13 ships (3 Waterman, 5 Maersk, 5 AMSEA) did not require a “functioning port” to offload. They were self-unloading ships, equipped with powered lighterage to move the vehicles and containers ashore from any anchorage to any beach. The AMSEA class could also carry 35k bbls of jet fuel and pump it ashore. They could also make 40k gal of water per day and pump it ashore.

Each 4 or 5 ship “squadron” could stand-up a 16,000 man Marine Expeditionary Brigade with everything they needed to go to war with - vehicles, ammo, bombs, rockets, food & fuel. Everything except the air-wing - but they carried the airfield and all required ancillary equipment.

Granted each 30,000 GRT ship is a big fat target for today’s over-the-horizon weaponry, but maybe try to figure out better ways to protect them rather than reinventing the wheel. Especially given that the new wheel (LAW) is sounding pretty pathetic.

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