U.S. Army Begins Auctioning Off Maritime Assets
The U.S. Army is downsizing its little-known fleet of landing craft by liquidating all the maritime units in the Army Reserve and the National Guard. About 10 units and 700 positions will be cut from the program, along with a yet-to-be-determined number of vessels and facilities. Active duty units - which account for about half of today's Army Watercraft Systems program - will still remain in service.
The decision to liquidate so much of the service's maritime capability came at the orders of Secretary of the Army Mark Esper, and it is being implemented outside of the normal Army protocol, which usually entails 2-5 years of prior notification. The move was announced in January but is now picking up speed with the first of many planned General Services Administration (GSA) auctions for Army maritime assets. The heavy landing craft SSGT Robert T. Kuroda, the most advanced ship in her class and the largest in the Army, can now be bid on at the GSA auction site. As of July 12, the highest bid was $1 million.
The 13-year-old Kuroda has a range of more than 6,000 nm, loading ramps at the bow and the stern, watermakers, a 10,000 square foot main deck and enough deadweight for 15 M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks. As she was built by American shipbuilder VT Halter Marine, she is suitable for U.S. domestic voyages. The Kuroda is presently moored in Tacoma, Washington and may be inspected by prior appointment.
In addition to the Kuroda, the Army is believed to have plans to liquidate two of her sister ships and as many as 18 of its LCU-2000 landing craft utility vessels.
The service is in the middle of a renewal cycle for its smaller landing craft. In 2017, the Army entered into a 36-unit, $1 billion contract with Vigor Industrial to build a successor for the 70-foot "Mike Boat," an iconic Vietnam-era landing craft that is still in use by many governments and commercial operators worldwide. Vigor's new MSV(L) landing craft will have twice as much capacity and significantly more speed than its predecessor.