The latest episode of Impossible Engineering goes behind the scenes to showcase the U.S. Navy’s Ship to Shore Connector (SSC) and the hovercraft history that led to this next generation landing craft.
Filmed on location at Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) and Textron Systems, Slidell, Louisiana the episode highlights how the government led design of SSC increases capability, performance, reliability and operational availability to the Navy and Marine Corps team.
“As a Marine Expeditionary Unit Commander, the Ship to Shore Connector is vital to our Marines’ ability to complete our mission essential tasks. Without this platform, the capacity to complete our mission sets as an expeditionary quick reaction force, deployed and ready for immediate response to crisis are more challenging,” said Commanding Officer Col. Paul Merida, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.
“SSC offers a surface insertion and extraction platform with unparalleled access to the littoral coast and it does it at the pace of a fast speed boat,” said Capt. Cedric McNeal, program manager, Amphibious Warfare Programs, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. “Marines aboard amphibious warfare ships are beyond the horizon when they receive a mission and the SSC enables the force to execute complex missions with agility and speed.”
The craft are built with similar configurations, dimensions, and clearances to legacy Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) hovercraft, ensuring the compatibility of this next-generation air cushion vehicle with existing well deck equipped amphibious ships, as well as the Expeditionary Transfer Dock.
SSC training craft, LCAC 100, and the first fleet assets, LCAC 101 and 102, are in the initial operator training pipeline and are in post-delivery test and trials at NSWC PCD.
“SSC brings capabilities to the U.S. Navy’s amphibious warfare mission that have been previously unrealized,” said Master Chief Operations Specialist Joshua Pearsall, craft master with the Assault Craft Unit Four detachment at NSWC PCD. “Greater lift capacity, coupled with advanced craft control technology will keep the U.S. Navy at the forefront of amphibious warfare well into the future.”
The Navy accepted delivery of SSC LCAC 102 in June and LCACs 103-115 are in production at Textron Systems.
As one of the Defense Department's largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, boats and craft.
Note: The Ship to Shore Connector episode of Impossible Engineering first aired Aug. 18, 2021 on Discovery’s Science Channel and online on Discovery Plus.