The US Marine Corps has selected Port Macquarie maritime engineer Birdon Group‘s advanced Heavy Landing Craft – H260 design to be part of a test and evaluation exercise focused on the missions it envisions Marines executing in the future.
The H-260, a long-range, shallow draft, independent vessel, shares a common lineage to Birdon’s proposed Heavy Landing Craft for the Australian Army LMV-H. Austal is building this Birdon design for Australia at its Henderson shipyard in Perth.
The H260 embodies Birdon’s extensive knowledge of the Indo-Pacific’s demanding area of operations, and understanding of the US Marine Corps and Australian Defence Force littoral warfare concepts, according to the company.
CEO Jamie Bruce said “We’re honoured that our Heavy Landing Craft H-260 design was chosen for the US Marine Corps Warfighting Lab’s mission testing.”
Birdon is already a major supplier in the US, and has contracts to deliver bridge erection boats to the US Army as well as Coast Guard contracts.
The most recent contract worth $281 million will see the company upgrade the coast guard fleet of 47-foot motor lifeboat vessels.
Looking outwardly similar to many oil and gas offshore support vessels, but with integrated signature reduction features, the 260-foot-long craft features a payload of 440 short tons, deck space of 8,000 sq ft, the ability to accommodate 72 Marines and 26 crew, a range of over 5,000nm, and a draft of only 6.5 feet.
This allows the vessel to access a far larger proportion of beach and riverine offload locations than similar sized vessels.
“Its inherent robustness and resilience enable the H-260 to adapt to a wide range of mission profiles and sustain multiple deployments.
“The aft loading and forward enclosed ramps enable rapid load transfer while adding flexibility to cope with a wider range of landing sites.
“Its forward wheelhouse and accommodation are distanced from the noise and vibration of the propulsion systems, and combined with the proprietary bow reduces pitching moment and accelerations on embarked personnel, all of whom have bunks, delivering an enhanced habitability.”
Picture: Birdon Group