The Navy accepted the next Ship-to-Shore Connector (SSC), Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC)-104 on June 9.

Acceptance came after the vessel finished Acceptance Trials with the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) to test the craft’s readiness and capability and also validate its requirements.

“These next generation craft provide our Navy and Marine Corps team with essential agility and speed to complete their missions. The reliability and flexibility of the LCAC make them an essential asset to the fleet – protecting the maritime domain now and in the future,” Capt. Jason Grabelle, program manager for Amphibious Assault and Connectors Programs at Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships, said in a statement.

Textron Systems [TXT] is currently in serial production on LCACs 105 – 116 at its New Orleans shipyard.

The SSCs are designed for a service life of 30 years and replace legacy LCAC-01 class, transporting up to 70 tons of personnel, weapons, equipment and cargo at over-the-horizon distances from amphibious ships. They have similar dimensions as the LCAC-01s, but are billed as having better engines, higher payloads, smaller crews, fly-by-wire controls and simple maintenance.

The Navy plans to procure up to 72 of these craft. 

In February, The Navy said it tested two SSCs interfacing with the USS Carter Hall (LSD-50) dock landing ship, the first time they used a real ship rather than a mock well deck at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Panama City, Fla. (Defense Daily, Feb. 10).

At the time, the Navy said it expected to have four more SSCs delivered in 2022 and that the Navy first received LCAC-104 last December, whereupon it was tested at SWC Panama City.

According to the Navy’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 budget request documents, the service expects to have LCAC-105 delivered by October, LCAC-106 by September, and LCAC-107 by March 2023. The documents foresee four or more craft deliveries per year lasting through 2030 with LCAC-138.

The House Armed Services Committee’s Seapower and Projection Force subcommittee markup for the Fiscal Year 2023 defense authorization bill included a provision authorizing the Navy to enter into a block contract for up to 25 more SSCs (Defense Daily, June 7).

The Navy’s FY ‘23 budget request seeks $190 million to buy two more SSCs and submitted a legislative proposal seeking authority to enter into block buy contracts akin to what the bill allows.