The military, with its budget, scale, and motivation, has long been an innovator in the field of logistics. Feeding and tooling an army, as well as the multitude of other challenges it is presented with, are some of the most pronounced faced by any supply chain, and negotiating them can be a matter of life and death.
Seabasing is the latest development in sea-based logistics, and it is set to become a permanent fixture of American strategy. As the US cuts back on its overseas military bases, and certain areas become increasingly mired in instability, it is vital that there are offshore bases in place to reduce the dependency on ports or airfields. Particularly as some of the same countries currently embroiled in domestic turmoil are often those with the worst ports and are the hardest to access.
Seabasing appears to be the solution to this issue. It bypasses the need to carry large pieces of infrastructure, such as ports and piers, that are normally required to transfer things from ship to land. In the army’s case, this often involves large numbers of men and heavy military vehicles. It uses a Mobile Landing Platform, which is basically a tanker-sized semi-submersible highway interchange artery on the sea that is used to facilitate the transport of large cargo from a cargo ship to the shore.
The US Navy's first giant Mobile Landing Platform was tested for the first time last October, as part of a mock natural disaster response under relatively benign conditions. How such a platform would fair in a real combat situation is as yet unclear, but the ability to shift an incredible amount of equipment and men across huge distances by sea is potentially game changing for the ability to provide humanitarian aid to parts of the world that were previously difficult, if not impossible, to reach.
The US Marine Corps Forces Pacific (MARFORPAC) will this week host the inaugural Pacific Command Amphibious Leaders Symposium (PALS), bringing together senior leaders from 23 nation’s naval forces to examine the viability of working together to address issues such as crisis response, and if a consensus is reached, it could benefit millions.