Too heavy for a C-130? Try a catamaran!

Isles to see Army’s Spearhead

In Friday’s Linkzookery, I noted another appearance of the Army’s high-speed catamaran transport TSV-1X. What I didn’t realize was that the ship’s appearance at Pearl Harbor was tied to the new Stryker brigade being formed. Major thanks to Mike at New Wars for pointing this out.

A 700-ton TSV-1X-class ship can carry 23 Strykers and their full complement of soldiers. It’s not stated whether the Strykers would be traveling with a full combat load or with the add-on slat armor, but suffice it to say that this is a major step in the right direction.

The Army said that to move the 25th Division’s Stryker Brigade 400 miles by a high-speed vessel, like the Spearhead, would take 14 trips, each voyage taking 10 hours. Soldiers assigned to the Stryker unit could accompany each vessel.

That would be compared with 26 trips using the landing ships now used by the Army, but each vessel would take 40 hours of transit time and the soldiers would have to be moved separately.

Using the Air Force’s C-17 transport cargo jets would be faster (one hour) but would mean 254 sorties.

And this is a big part of why the Pentagon isn’t as up-in-arms about the Stryker’s weight problem as the vehicle’s critics are. While not trying to dismiss the fact that the Stryker is heavier than it’s supposed to be, it’s always been clear that Stryker brigade deployments would be by sea in all but the most extreme circumstances. The goal was, for times of the gravest desperation, to deploy the brigade anywhere in the world within 96 hours. That could be done, but even if the Stryker had met its weight requirements it still would have meant commandeering nearly every available air transport for the mission.

So, while concerns about air deployability remain, it’s good to see the Army addressing the issue. And, of course, these high-speed transports can do an awful lot more than carry Strykers. It would be nice to see both the Army and the Navy go ahead with their respective programs. I’m not sure you can ever reach the point where you have too much fast sea transport capability.

Oh, and keep an eye on New Wars.


  1. I like the idea. Using high speed ships to rapidly deliver units to the area of operations. A logical extension would be to create a rapid deployment force. {Ah la Strikers)Though I would favor throwing in some M1A2’s. Hawii would not be my first choice as to basing the unit. Guam is much closer to the fray and would shave days off of the transport time. In addition, its cheaper but I bet the troops love Hawii much more.