After repeated delays, an industry team led by Textron Inc. has won a $212.7 million contract for the next-generation hovercraft transport to carry Marine forces from ship to shore, the Navy announced at 5:01 today.
The blandly named “Ship to Shore Connector” (SSC) will replace the aging Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC), also built by Textron, which entered service in 1982. Textron beat out a rival team led by Lockheed Martin and Marinette Marine, who first joined forces to build the Littoral Combat Ship.
Interesting. The most interesting part is the Navy did most of the design work in-house.
For years, we’ve seen a trend of the services giving only the most general characteristics and contract specifications, and letting the contractors design a response. That’s generally how the aviation side has always worked.
But on the ship side, for most of history, the Navy did most of the design work, and the shipyards only had to design the final drawings and build the things. If the Navy wasn’t happy with a ship, it was its own fault.
It is a little odd to see this shift in emphasis on who designs what in this program, however. LCACs (and SSCs) are a lot more akin to aircraft design than most naval craft. Further, the Navy has rarely used its own in house design teams for small craft. Normally, they’ve let contractors design them. Further, with the shift a generation or so ago in allowing contractors to design ships, a lot of the Navy’s institutional knowledge either retired or went into different industries. I’m curious how much naval architecture capability remains.