These Unusual Ships Could Carry Marines Around Australia, Africa

A new class of amphibious assault ships will support Marine Corps operations for the two continents.

As Marines buckle down for another decade with limited amphibious ships and high operational demand, planners are taking a look at re-purposing some ship classes and reconfiguring others in order to bridge the demand gap.

The Marines' rotational deployment to Darwin, Australia continues to grow, with plans to build up to 2,500 Marines per six-month rotation. And the Marines' Europe-based crisis response task force for Africa -- created because of the dearth of amphibious ships to respond in that part of the world -- is increasingly participating in joint exercises and theater security cooperation efforts on both continents.

At both locations, the lack of available ships to carry Marines is felt, said Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command.

In the long-term, Marines plan to task a future amphibious group led by the America-class amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli, still under construction, with supporting two 90-day patrols around Australia per rotational deployment, Walsh told That future ARG is expected to be based in San Diego and will support operations in the Pacific, including the Darwin troops.

sea basing goes beyond what was initially announced in 2011, and reduces even further the capacity for any local control and agency over the growing foreign military presence